The UN program to help child soldiers

The United Nations was founded in 1945 following World War II and today has 193 members. Its original aim was to prevent another World War but over the years it has expanded to include peace keeping missions and human rights issues as well as providing economic assistance to countries following conflicts or natural disasters.

In August of 1999 the United Nations passed the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1261. This resolution condemned “the targeting of children in armed conflict” this included both the recruitment and use of child soldiers. Some of the key aims of the resolution were to ensure the provision of humanitarian assistance to the population, support the resettlement and protection of children displaced as a result of conflict and consider the appropriate course of action to carry out on building and sites which children use during times of armed conflict.

Another key way that the UN aims to help child soldiers is through their peacekeeping missions. One of the main roles of the United Nations Peacekeepers is to protect children. In 2001 the United Nations added the protection of children to their peacekeeping mandate. The tasks that they have carried out include: raising awareness, advocacy for children, negotiating with armed forces and assisting in legal reforms. In order to achieve all of these – all those who serve in peace keeping missions are trained beforehand.

Children, Not Soldiers is another initiative launched by the UN two years ago which aim of preventing the “recruitment and use of children by national security forces in conflict”. It focuses on eight countries–Afghanistan, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Yemen–that were listed in the UN’s annual report on child soldiers. Since its launch, the Afghanistan government criminalised the recruitment of children, Myanmar released over 700 children from the country’s army and Sudan signed an Action Plan with the UN to end and prevent the use of children in armed conflict. The UN have also relied on social media with the hash tag #ChildrenNotSoldiers has been used to promote their initiative.

All of their efforts will of course take time but the United Nations are working had to ensure that children that are involved in conflict are helped and taken care of.

-Michelle O’Brien
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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