A few links passed on by someone far better schooled in these matters.
Peter MacKay, then-minister of foreign affairs, Aug. 28, 2006. Speech entitled “Child Soldiers: Changing the Reality on the Ground.” A couple excerpts.
The situation in Sri Lanka is another example of children bearing the brunt in conflict and of the destabilizing consequences of not protecting children’s rights. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have been recruiting children as soldiers for over 20 years, of which 40% are young girls. Canada’s new government moved quickly to list the LTTE as a terrorist organization to help choke off funds they had been extorting from Canadians to fund their activities. There is much blame on both side of this conflict with (as is so often the case) children sadly caught cruelly in the cross fire.
A robust legal regime is in place, a series of Security Council resolutions has established a framework for implementation, and a broad array of international and non-governmental organizations are working ever more closely to provide protection for children caught up in armed conflicts. Yet the nature of the abuses faced by children in dozens of conflict zones remains unthinkable. Concerted action is required by actors at all levels to prevent and respond to violations of the rights of children. An investment early in conflicts will pay huge dividends in future abuses.
CIDA’s “Youth Zone” educational section for kids on child soldiers. A couple excerpts.
Child soldiers are being used in more than 30 countries around the world. The use of children as soldiers on such a large scale is a phenomenon that emerged during the conflicts of the 1990s. The problem is most critical in Africa and Asia, though governments and armed groups in the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East also use children as soldiers…
Increasingly, governments around the world are raising the age of military recruitment to 18. This is now the minimum age for UN peacekeepers. In February 2002, the UN recognized the need to increase the protection of children in its Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. This Protocol also endorses 18 as the minimum age for combatants.
John McNee, Canadian ambassador to the United Nations, Nov. 28, 2006. Statement to the UN Security Council, open debate on children and armed conflict.
Canada congratulates the Working Group on meeting an ambitious agenda. In addition to the DRC, conclusions on Sudan have also been adopted. The situations in Cote d’Ivoire and Burundi have been considered, soon to be followed by Sri Lanka, Nepal and Somalia. The Special Representative’s Special Advisor to Sri Lanka has reported that serious abuses against children are ongoing in Sri Lanka. We encourage the Council to stay apprised of the deteriorating human rights situation in Sri Lanka and to pursue recommended action on Sudan to combat impunity there.