Special Protection for Children in Armed Conflict

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Special Protection for Children in Armed Conflict refers to the legal framework and measures aimed at safeguarding the rights and well-being of children who are affected by armed conflict. It is based on the recognition that children are particularly vulnerable during times of war and that they require specific protections and assistance.

The key international instrument addressing the special protection of children in armed conflict is the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989. The CRC establishes the fundamental rights of children and provides a comprehensive framework for their protection. Article 38 of the CRC specifically focuses on the protection of children during armed conflicts and states that parties to the convention must take all feasible measures to ensure the protection and care of children affected by armed conflict.

Additionally, there are two optional protocols to the CRC that directly address the issue of children in armed conflict:

  1. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC): This protocol sets the minimum age for recruitment into armed forces and prohibits the recruitment and use of children under the age of 18 in hostilities. It also establishes measures to support the demobilization, rehabilitation, and reintegration of child soldiers.
  2. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography: This protocol aims to prevent and combat the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography. It requires states to criminalize these activities and provides measures for victim support and rehabilitation.

Furthermore, the United Nations Security Council has played a crucial role in addressing the issue of children in armed conflict. It has adopted several resolutions, notably Resolution 1612 (2005) and Resolution 1882 (2009), which establish monitoring and reporting mechanisms on grave violations against children in conflict situations. These resolutions also call for the release and reintegration of child soldiers and emphasize the need to hold perpetrators accountable.

Various non-governmental organizations, such as UNICEF, Save the Children, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), work to protect and assist children affected by armed conflict. They provide humanitarian aid, advocate for children’s rights, support psychosocial recovery, and contribute to the prevention of child recruitment and the release and reintegration of child soldiers.

While progress has been made in protecting children in armed conflict, challenges remain. Ongoing conflicts in different parts of the world continue to expose children to grave violations, including recruitment, abduction, sexual violence, and attacks on schools and hospitals. Efforts to strengthen prevention, accountability, and support for affected children are crucial in ensuring their well-being and a safer future for them.

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