Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Human Rights activists and journalists have called for the adoption of preventive strategies and the promotion of good practices regarding the protection and reintegration of child soldiers.
At the 50th session of the Human Rights Council meeting and debate in Geneva on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child in Conflict Zones: Situation of Child Soldiers, the participants called for the adoption of a preventive strategy through monitoring, education, as well as the protection of schools during armed conflict.
They equally called for the popularization, through an awareness-raising campaign, of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the effective implementation of the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, and the sale of children, child prostitution and pornography involving children.
Additionally, the participants requested the strengthening of monitoring mechanisms and encouraged the development of networks of civil society organizations in the area of advocacy for the cause of children.
A statement issued after the meeting further noted that written communication should be submitted at the 51st session of the Human Rights Council, in view of sensitizing the Member States of the Council to integrate the issue of the protection of children in the Council’s debates.
The statement added that “in view of the shortcomings of public policies in the area of protection, the meeting decided to organize a coalition group of civil society organizations in view of supporting an initiative concerning the adoption, by the UN General Assembly, an international decade to fight against abuses and use of children in armed conflicts.”
The meeting was jointly organized at the initiative of the Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO), and the Commission Indépendante du Réseau pour les droits de l’homme en Afrique du Nord (CIDHN).
The meeting convened around 40 participants in-person and online, including civil society organizations, journalists, experts, human rights activists, researchers, and diplomats. Panellists and participants analyzed the weakness of the promotion and protection of the rights of the child in conflict zones.
On the one hand, the root causes of recruitment and forced conscription of children in conflicts in Africa and in Asia; principally in the Sahel region, in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Mali, Somalia, in Afghanistan (Baluchistan), in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Ukraine.
The participants drew particular attention to the negative consequences of madrasas in the indoctrination of children in violation of their right to education in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and as well as in the Tindouf camps.
The participants observed the persistence, since the adoption of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, of grave violations of the rights of the child regarding murder, recruitment, mutilation, or denial of humanitarian access.