Assessing the Relevance of International Standards for the Protection of Children from Recruitment and Use as Child Soldiers, with a focus on Non-State Actors Armed Groups in Africa

University essay from Lunds universitet/Juridiska institutionen

Abstract: It is frustrating for every reasonable human being to observe scenes of exploitation around the world in respect of children, because of their either naivety or vulnerability. It is unacceptable that still in the 21st century, children do not benefit from the protection, attention and love they deserve. An estimated 300 million children worldwide are subject to violence, exploitation and abuse including the worst forms of child labour in communities, schools and institutions. Harmful practices such as female genital mutilation/cutting and child-forced marriage still have a good place in news headlines nowadays, as millions of children still remains without adequate protection. The frequency of armed conflicts has put in jeopardy the lives of millions of children around the world, thereby preventing them form enjoying a normal life with adequate family love, education and peaceful environment. To say more about armed conflicts, figures and facts offer a nasty image, especially when dealing with children. Once more Africa seems to be at the centre of global preoccupations. Although international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL) provide for an acceptable scope for the protection of children in times of wars or peace there is still a lot to achieve for the protection of children's rights. A feeling of impunity vis-à-vis violators of children's rights during armed conflict always comes to mind when assessing the situation. One is left with an impression that what is done so far is not enough The recruitment and use of child soldiers are some of the causes of this. Undoubtedly, this constitutes a serious obstacle to the respect of children's rights in the world and mainly in Africa where the practice is even increasing. This thesis assesses international standards for the prevention of use and recruitment of child soldiers in Africa. It focuses on the impact and effect of these standards on parties to conflicts, especially on non-state actors (NSAs) armed groups. A critical assessment of the relevance of IHL, international human rights law (IHRL), international criminal Law (ICL), international labour standards and the African regional standard in respect of prevention and protection of recruitment of child soldiers is proposed in our study. Furthermore, the thesis elaborate on international mechanisms often assimilated to international standards put in place by the international community through the United Nations (UN), third states actors and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to aid for the prevention and protection of recruitment of children by NSAs armed groups. On the other hand, the thesis proceeds on an inclusive way, which give the reader a general understanding of the nature of the problem in the world with a focus on Africa. Therefore, issues like negotiations with armed groups, implementation and funding of Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programmes are covered. Finally, the thesis makes recommendations, some of which have previously been raised by legal writers or international agencies working for the protection of the rights of the child.

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