What happened to all those red hands?

IMG_2174 The first batch of red hands and letters has been delivered.

Over 800 red hands were created by participants in the Presbyterian Youth Triennium,

They had the simple message: children should be children, not soldiers.

Participants wrote some 200 letters with the same message.

Red hands and letters have been sent to the permanent representatives to
the United Nations of Ethiopia, Myanmar, Tonga, Ghana, Zimbabwe, the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Cote D'Ivoire, Congo, Haiti, and
Georgia. When the red hands and letters were delivered, those ten countries were among the 61 countries of the world that have not ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. Red hands will soon be sent to the other 51 countries.

The Protocol plays a key role in the effort to protect children from service as soldiers. UNICEF notes that:

The Protocol requires States who ratify it to “take all feasible measures” to ensure that members of their armed forces under the age of 18 do not take a direct part in hostilities.  States must also raise the minimum age for voluntary recruitment into the armed forces from 15 years but does not require a minimum age of 18. The Protocol does, however, remind States that children under 18 are entitled to special protection and so any voluntary recruitment under the age of 18 must include sufficient safeguards. It further bans compulsory recruitment below the age of 18. States parties must also take legal measures to prohibit independent armed groups from recruiting and using children under the age of 18 in conflicts.

Through red hands and letters, Presbyterians join with people around the world to call for an end to the use of children as soldiers.

Send an email to countries that have not ratified the Optional Protocol.

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