No child soldiers!

IMG_0030 small During a retreat, staff members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Compassion, Peace and Justice ministry took time to create red hands to say that children should not be used as soldiers.

Human Rights Watch reports that children are fighting as soldiers in at least 14 countries around the world. Boys and girls alike are forced into combat, exploited for their labor, and subjected to violence and mistreatment.

This happens even though a treaty proposed by the United Nations bans the use of children under age 18 in hostilities or their forced recruitment into armed forces or groups. Today, two-thirds of the world’s countries have ratified this treaty, known as the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. However, 61 countries have not ratified the treaty and made clear their absolute commitment to ending the use of child soldiers.

IMG_0033 Human Rights Watch provides an opportunity to advocate for universal ratification of the child soldiers treaty by writing the ambassadors for these countries. Ask that their governments help end the use of child soldiers and act quickly to ratify the treaty.

Photos by Nancy Eng MacNeill

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