"The question of children and armed conflict is an integral part of the United Nations' core responsibilities for the maintenance of international peace and security, for the advancement of human rights and for sustainable human development."
Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a speech to the Security Council, 26 July 2000
In every part of the world, children more particularly from underdeveloped or developing countries are selected and recruited by various groups, for instance the armed forces, terrorist groups and opposition groups at war; these recruited children are then trained to become fighters and exploited enough to become commandoes. Children posses a vulnerable personality, hence they can be easily molded and manipulated into committing serious crimes for instance atrocious crimes like rape and murder of innocent civilians, they carry around rifles such as AK-47's and G4's as if they were born with it. To test their loyalty with their group they are sometimes even forced to injure or kill their own family members or friends. Those who are spared a less tragic fate are chosen to serve as sex slaves, cooks, porters, guards and spies (Baker.1999).
According to various human research reports, 250,000 children, most of them under the age of 18 are part of various major conflicts around the world, and more hundreds of thousands are soldiers of the armed forces, who are put "on the go" status, which means that they are fully trained and are ready to go into the battle ground whenever necessary (Baker.1999). Although most of the ripe child soldiers vary between the ages of 15 -- 18 their recruitment happens at the age of 10 and in the past, the recruitment age for training is recorded to be even lower. AI has been working diligently for this cause and has been successful enough to now have the attention of major international forums. It is now working for the abused rights of child soldiers, recruited both by the governments and the opposition groups, ratios of this activity is common in countries like, Sri Lanka, Republic of Congo, Angola, Rwanda, Uganda and Sierra Leone. In this paper we will attempt to analyze all the factors that force children to become soldiers at such a young age, we will do so with the help of strong evidence and statistical facts and strong discussion in relation to each findings (Al Arjani, Thabet, & Vostanis. 2008).
History of Child Slavery:
When we hear the word "child soldiers or "child slavery," the first thing or place that comes to mind is Africa, a place which people still associate with all kinds of evils and horrors. In the true sense of reality, the use of children as young soldiers as been in practice for over a thousand years, the territory of which spreading all over the world, and now with a refined method and colorful definition is still the norm in advanced countries like the United States and the United Kingdome. Hence we can easily that the use of children as soldiers has never been only restricted to Africa.
Ancient Greece: In ancient Greece, the Spartans were the first to approach the construction of their society in a militaristic way. The keen focus of their military recruitment was very young boys, sometimes even taken by force if a situation of that sort arose. The Spartans have always been known for their surviving skills, considering that they used to train and raise their warriors to make sure they met the challenges to defeat their Greek rivals, including their rivalry with Athens. Hence these young soldiers were the key to the protection of their small city like state. Thus the Spartans relied heavily on the augmentability of these young warriors (Eapen, Swadi, Sabri & Abou-Saleh. 2001). Even in recent days, small counties and kingdoms recruit small children for their military for the same purpose.
In the early Roman history, the violent nature of the regions warriors ensured the popularity and the attractiveness of the army. There were always seldom problems encountered while "recruiting" young children for training. Considering that the adult male warriors were always absent because of their own missions, young children were used for the protection of the homes and the city walls. The much smaller children were not even spared, since they were too small to handle weapons and machinery, they were used as spied or messengers (Singer. 2003).
The Middle East: In the 1300s the Ottoman Turks used to kidnap young Christian boys and used to torture them and brainwash them into serving and prove their loyalty to the sultan, who was the ruler of the Ottoman Empire. Once trained under immensely hard circumstances these young boys would become part of an elite army of the Middle East and at that time all of Europe. They used to be called the Janissaries. However, under the religious codes of Islam, it prohibits the recruitment of boys under the age of 15 in the army or in a war.
The Western World: In Europe and America, children usually performed the support roles. For instance, "the drummer boy" became a very important figure in the American military, in the British navy, young recruited troops were as helping boys or aides in their fleet missions. Until then, the treatment with young recruited children was very much humane; it was not until the 20th century that the true face of war fare was revealed all over the world and hence the immense responsibility of child protection was felt (Mamiro. 2005). Hence a movement aimed at the same purpose was initiated, which gained popularity very quickly under the efforts of Eglantyne Jebb and from then on the international community gradually took steps to eliminate the use of children as warriors.
How do children become soldiers?
1996 was the first time, this issue was thoroughly researched and analyzed and the conclusion was that, children who recruit themselves as soldiers or are forced to do by parents or care takes do so considering the hardships they go through, for instance the main and most common cause is extreme poverty, where hunger and no economic means often force parents to sell their children to various recruiting organizations, by providing the young children of basic incentives such as regular meals, medical help and cleans cloths. Sometimes another pattern is observed, children often run away from their homes because of an unstable environment which scares them for instance a violent father or a chaotic family often attracts them to the ideology of an "army" and "discipline." While some cases can be pure psychological or social, for example children might get attracted to recruit themselves because of religious oppression, freewill, patriotism, or the pursuit to political freedom as it is going on in South Africa and other occupied nations (Luthar, Sawyer, & Brown. 2006).
There are other recorded reasons as well, since children are vulnerable and impressionable, they can easily be tricked into becoming such dispensable accessory to war fronts. In Sierra Leone, the worst recorded behavior by young soldiers was recorded. With the manufacture of light metal weapons it has only become easier and encouraging for children to become part of such activities. Some countries like Sri Lanka, Uganda and Nepal, it was estimated that about 33% of child soldiers are girls, who are most of the times raped or offered to high ranking commanders as wives (Luthar, Sawyer, & Brown. 2006). Once they children have been recruited, they are not just given training for military purposes, because sometimes they are also hired to perform adult related tasks such as cooks, porters, guards, spies and messengers (Horning. 2002). Sometimes it gets so barbaric that children are sent into the minefields before the senior troops to erase all the possibility of them being exploded by bombs, more often they are used in suicide missions since they are considered completely dispensable. Also, they are forced to act ill against their own families to ensure their loyalty.
In some countries where this crime is slowly being recognized, rehabilitation programs are being setup so that these lost children can find their families, if not that then continue with their left over education and all help is provided to them to have a normal civilian life. However, in countries where these programs are not yet offered, children have to struggle through every hurdle in life, once the "ideology" to becoming a child soldier rubs off. In 2000, the United Nations adopted the protocol on the "Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict." This protocol has restricted the use of children in any form of military or hard labor purposes, especially children under the age of 18; to date it has been adopted by 110 countries. The ILO convention of forced child labor restricts the obligatory or forced hiring of children under the age of 18 for military purposes, this convention has been sanction by 150 countries (Eapen, Swadi, Sabri & Abou-Saleh. 2001).
However, children involved in armed wars are still…