Geneva Presbytery says “No” to child soldiers

Folks on UN TourFrom the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, they journeyed to New York City. Thirty-six in number, of many different ages, the group from the Presbytery of Geneva included a visit to the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations as part of their trip. On Saturday, October 8, we met outside the United Nations.

As I came up First Avenue, I saw a group gathered at the entrance. I guessed they were Presbyterians from Geneva, but I was not sure until I saw one of them carrying a stack of Red Hands – addressing the use of children as soldiers was the topic they had chosen for their seminar.

Because of the number of participants, we were divided into two groups for the tour of the UN.

After the tour we went to the Church of the Covenant (a shout out of thanks to our partners!). There we talked about the work of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations.

Group members made Red Hands and we talked about how they are used. UNICEF estimates that 300,000 children are involved in armed conflicts around the world. There are a number of ways to address that situation. 

The Red Hands Campaign works to create international will to end the use of children as soldiers. Presbyterian Red Hands (along with Red Hands from around the world) are delivered to Permanent Missions of United Nations member states that have not ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. This international treaty helps establish the consensus that children should not be used as soldiers. It also makes it possible for those who use children as soldiers to be prosecuted in the International Criminal Court.

Father and son on tourWe talked about other aspects of the effort to end the exploitation as children. These include disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration programs. They also include measures that strengthen communities and provide alternatives such as education and employment.

Thanks to the group members and the organizers and our partners at Church of the Covenant! It was a great day.

Your gifts to the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations help make possible the seminar program. Contact us to schedule a seminar for your group.

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