- The US has added Pakistan and 14 other countries to a Child Soldier Recruiter List that identifies foreign governments having government-supported armed groups that recruit or use child soldiers.
- Child Soldier refers to any person below 18 years of age who has been, recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity.
- It includes but is not limited to children, boys and girls who are used as fighters, cooks, porters, spies or for sexual purposes (Paris Principles on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict 2007).
- The US Child Soldiers Prevention Act -2008 (CSPA) requires the publication in the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report a list of foreign governments that have recruited or used child soldiers.
- Some of the countries which have been added to the list are Pakistan, Turkey, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Yemen etc.
- The United Nations (UN) verified that over 7,000 children had been recruited and used as soldiers in 2019 alone.
- The CSPA prohibits the US government from providing military assistance, including money, military education and training, or direct sales of military equipment, to countries that recruit and use child soldiers.
- International treaties and instruments, such as the CRC and its Optional Protocol are valuable and necessary tools to ensure betterment of children but these must be implemented by all parties in its true spirit.
- In 2014, UNICEF launched the campaign “Children, Not Soldiers” to bring about a global consensus that child soldiers should not be used in conflict.
- More such campaigns (Global as well as National) are needed to generate momentum, political will and international support.
- Also, the reintegration of former child soldiers must be a strong focus of our collective efforts.
SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES .MINT