Let us sacrifice our today so that our children can have a better
said Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam but the world now is endeavouring to sacrifice
children to ensure that the present generation achieves its revolting goals.
Thousands of children are serving as soldiers in armed conflicts around the
world. These boys and girls, some as young as 8 years old, serve in government
forces and armed opposition groups. They may fight on the front lines,
participate in suicide missions, and act as spies, messengers, or lookouts.
Girls may be forced into sexual slavery. Many are abducted or recruited by
force, while others join out of desperation, believing that armed groups offer
their best chance for survival.
Combat and support roles
In many conflicts children take direct part in combat. However, their role is
not limited to fighting. Many girls and boys start out in support functions that
also entail great risk and hardship.
One of the common tasks assigned to children is to serve as porters, often
carrying heavy loads, including ammunition or injured soldiers. Some children
act as lookouts, messengers, cooks or other routine duties. Girls are
particularly vulnerable. They are often forced to serve as sexual slaves.
Moreover, the use of children for acts of terror, including as suicide bombers,
has emerged as a phenomenon of modern warfare.
The question that one asks at this juncture is how do we define a child solider?
Who is a child solider? In Paris Principles on the Involvement of Children in
Armed Conflict 2007 a child solider has been defined as A child associated
with an armed force or armed group refers to any person below 18 years of age
who is, or who has been, recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in
any capacity, including but not limited to children, boys and girls, used as
fighters, cooks, porters, spies or for sexual purposes.
What does International Law say?
Humanitarian access is crucial in situations of armed conflict where civilians
including children are in desperate need of assistance. Denial of humanitarian
access entails blocking the free passage or timely delivery of humanitarian
assistance to persons in need as well as the deliberate attacks against
Reasons of denied or hampered access
It is estimated that in today’s conflicts around the globe, 80 millions of
children are denied humanitarian assistance. Access can be denied or hampered by
parties to conflict for security or political reasons. In many parts of the
world, humanitarian assistance is sometimes interrupted because of ongoing
Justice and children
Until recently, violations against children during armed conflict have gone
largely unpunished and perpetrators of such crimes have not been held
accountable. Yet, over the past 20 years, the international community has set up
a number of new accountability mechanisms with the aim of ending impunity for
violations against children.
Protection of children in judicial proceedings
The difficulty for victims to come forward in judicial proceedings and face
their memories and their assailants is often underestimated. If they speak,
there could be reprisals on them or their families. If they testify, they will
have to be able to undergo a vigorous cross-examination that often results in
re-living horrific events. Balancing participation and the protection of
children during court proceedings is of great importance. Closed sessions, voice
and image distortion, screens between the witness and the accused, as well as
pre- and post-statement counselling are all useful methods to protect child
witnesses from possible consequences when they testify.
Syria and child Soliders:
Syria being the worst hit in the recent times has claimed the lives of several
children and their childhood in lieu of the on going war.
Children report being actively encouraged to join the war by parties to the
conflict offering gifts and 'salaries' of up to $400 a month."
Since 2014, warring sides have recruited younger children, it said, some as
young as seven. More than half of children recruited in cases UNICEF verified in
2015 were under 15.
Children have been filmed executing prisoners in grisly propaganda videos by the
Islamic State group.
Outside Syria, 306,000 Syrian children have been born as refugees, it said. U.N.
refugee agency UNHCR says nearly 70,000 Syrian refugee children have been born
in Lebanon alone.
UNICEF said 3.7 million children had been born since the conflict began, a third
of all Syrian children.
Some 2.8 million Syrian children in Syria or neighbouring countries are not
attending school. Dozens of schools and hospitals were attacked in 2015,
according to aid groups.
A childhood without books – that would be no childhood. That would be like
being shut out from the enchanted place where you can go and find the rarest
kind of joy said Astrid Lindgren; and here we are witnessing millions of
children holding, not books, but guns. It is the need of the hour to discuss and
find a solution to protect children from the clutches of a dark life and let
bring them towards knowledge and brightness.
Written by: Sayed Qudrat Hashimy - International Law Students
E-mail : [email protected] / Phone no. +91 9008813333