A forgotten humanitarian Issue – Child Militia

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Today we have been addressing a lot of humanitarian aspects and various humanitarian issues faced by world community such as torture , Rape and sexual assault.  However, the bigger question arises is are these the only humanitarian issues the world is facing ? No , there are many other humanitarian issues which the world community is facing but hasn’t been emphasized much on and it requires a lot of attention. One such issue is child militia . What is Child Militia ? Child militia in simple words is recruitment of children as soldiers. On understanding what child militia is a pertinent question arises which is What about the basic rights of the child ? Is it fair to recruit children as soldiers ? Where does this practice exists ? Is there any convention at an international level which aims at protecting and promoting child rights ?

Let us understand the crucial aspects of this issue. First let us understand there is an international convention known as convention on  the Rights of Child which was adopted by General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989. Let us analyze how Child Militia would be in violation of Convention on rights of child. Let us first understand to whom does this convention apply. This convention clearly states in Article 1  that it is applicable to children below the age of 18 years . Let’s understand Article 3(3) “. States Parties shall ensure that the institutions, services and facilities responsible for the care or protection of children shall conform with the standards established by competent authorities, particularly in the areas of safety, health, in the number and suitability of their staff, as well as competent supervision.” The question now arises is does recruitment of children in military or as soldiers is an adequate step towards protecting the health and ensuring the safety of children .  Article 6 (1) states that state parties recognise that every child has the inherit right to life’. Recruitment of children in military or as soldiers is an direct violation of Article 6 (1) of Convention of rights of child as recruitment of children does not protect child’s life but puts the child’s life at risk. If a child is let to work in the military the question which arises is how is the right to life of a child guaranteed ?

Further taking into consideration Article 19 (1) which states “States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.” The bigger question arises is through child militia in others words by recruiting child soldiers how does a state protect the child from violence. This could be described more of a direct violation of Article 19(1) of convention on rights of child. Article 20(1) is something which is very comprehensive and child militia in a literal sense destroys its essence of this article. Article 20(1) states that “A child temporarily or permanently deprived of his or her family environment, or in whose own best interests cannot be allowed to remain in that environment, shall be entitled to special protection and assistance provided by the State.” By recruiting child soldiers, a child is permanently deprived of her family environment. Is it fair to that child to have been deprived of his family environment?

Further let’s understand an crucial part of Article 24 (1) which states ” States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services.” The basic question which arises is by recruiting child soldiers how is the state ensuring to provide highest standard of health to children ?

A major aspect which is ignored is article 29 (1) . Article 29 (1) states that “ States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:

(a) The development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;

(b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;

(c) The development of respect for the child’s parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own;

(d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin;

(e) The development of respect for the natural environment “

How is the child’s education going to be focused on ? How is child’s personality going to be focused on when at a young age of 12 years. How is the child going to be guiding on respecting his cultural integrity when he has to do a duty of a soldier?

Child Militia has been indeed a gross human rights violation. It is in complete violation of the convention of rights of child. It is something which is not been looked into. It is high time all the countries must come together to find a solution for this humanitarian issue.

Vignesh N – Writer Bharat Bhagya Vidhata

Reference -:

  1. Convention on Rights of Child Document from OHRC

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