Children, Not Soldiers

Ricky Velez-Negron ChildrenNotSoldiersIn March, the United Nations and UNICEF launched an initiative to end the use of children as security forces by governments. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui launched the initiative. This campaign is known as Children, Not Soldiers.

This initiative is a call to action that highlights the importance of allowing all children of the world to have the chance to grow up without being recruited and used as soldiers. In his announcement of the initiative, the Secretary-General stated, “children should be armed with pens and textbooks, not guns”.

At the time of the launch eight government security forces were listed for the recruitment or use of children as soldiers. Currently, seven of the eight states have signed action plans with the UN and committed to end the recruitment of children. These seven states are Afghanistan, Chad, South Sudan, Myanmar, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the most recent addition as of May 2014 – Yemen. The eighth state, Sudan, is in talks with the UN and has expressed commitment to child-free security forces.

The goal of the campaign is to end the recruitment and use of children as soldiers by the year 2016. The UN and UNICEF are working with the states to create lasting solutions that will continue to prevent this problem.

The campaign is creating awareness of the issue by using social media and the hashtag #ChildrenNotSoldiers. Awareness is also raised by the posting of pictures of individuals showing their support to the initiative by holding a sign with the hashtag, as modeled in the pictures of our office’s support.

Add your voice and show your support for #ChildrenNotSoldiers. One more state to go!

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