Problems with current U.S. policy.Key Problems
* The U.S. has failed to ratify major treaties protecting children's rights The opportunity for children to participate in political and legal decisions that affect them; in a broad sense, the rights of children to live free from hunger, abuse, neglect, and other inhumane conditions. .
* The U.S., based in part on its domestic recruitment practices, consistently opposes international efforts to raise the minimum age for all soldiering to 18.
* The U.S. provides arms transfers, military aid, and military training to countries using children in armed conflict, exacerbating these conflicts and facilitating the use of child soldiers.
Although critical of the use of child soldiers in many contexts, the U.S. government--particularly the Defense Department--has consistently opposed widely popular international efforts to raise the minimum age for soldiering to 18. The U.S. strenuously opposed the creation of a strong ICC ICC
See: International Chamber of Commerce , which has the potential to deter the recruitment of child soldiers. Opposition from the U.S. led to weaker language in ILO ILO
International Labor Organization
Noun 1. ILO - the United Nations agency concerned with the interests of labor
International Labor Organization, International Labour Organization Convention 182 (ratified by the U.S. in 1999). Furthermore, the U.S. has not ratified several international treaties (e.g., the CRC (Cyclical Redundancy Checking) An error checking technique used to ensure the accuracy of transmitting digital data. The transmitted messages are divided into predetermined lengths which, used as dividends, are divided by a fixed divisor. and the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions Geneva Conventions, series of treaties signed (1864–1949) in Geneva, Switzerland, providing for humane treatment of combatants and civilians in wartime. ) that specify a broad range of special protection for children.
Perhaps even more significantly for five years, the Years, The
the seven decades of Eleanor Pargiter’s life. [Br. Lit.: Benét, 1109]
See : Time U.S. led efforts to block the development of the Optional Protocol on Child Soldiers. Many countries were dissatisfied with the 15-year standard and wanted to create an instrument to protect all children under the age of 18 from participation, conscription conscription, compulsory enrollment of personnel for service in the armed forces. Obligatory service in the armed forces has existed since ancient times in many cultures, including the samurai in Japan, warriors in the Aztec Empire, citizen militiamen in ancient , and recruitment. However, consensus on prohibiting all forms of soldiering could not be reached, and a lower standard was adopted. The final agreement bowed to U.S. interests in several respects, including failing to establish 18 as the minimum age for all soldiering, and allowing states to become parties to the Protocol without ratifying the CRC (only the U.S. and Somalia have not ratified it).
Successive U.S. administrations have argued that a minimum age of 18 is unacceptable and unrealistic. U.S. law currently allows 17-year-olds to join the military voluntarily (with parental permission). It is likely that the U.S. will officially declare 17 as its minimum age for recruitment if it ratifies the Optional Protocol (signed by former President Clinton in July 2000). U.S. opposition to age 18 is fueled by Pentagon concerns about possible interference with its domestic recruitment practices, especially in the wake of current enlistment shortfalls (even though the Joint Chiefs of Staff signed off on U.S. approval of the Optional Protocol during January 2000 negotiations). The Pentagon has greatly expanded its outreach and advertising activities geared for young people, including high school Junior-ROTC and various other military programs for children as young as eight. Such programs actively sell militarism Militarism
See also Soldiering.
leader of the Seven against Thebes. [Gk. Myth.: Iliad]
killed many enemies; led many troops to victory. [Ger. Lit. Nibelungenlied] to children of all ages.
Individual countries and regions have taken steps to eliminate the use of child soldiers; an estimated 73 countries uphold the principle that children under 18 should not be used in armed forces. The refusal of the U.S. to participate in expanding international standards is just one further example of the U.S. unilateralism u·ni·lat·er·al·ism
A tendency of nations to conduct their foreign affairs individualistically, characterized by minimal consultation and involvement with other nations, even their allies. that plagues current U.S. foreign policy.
Not only is the U.S. resisting current international endeavors, it is also actively engaged in creating the conditions leading to the use of child soldiers elsewhere. Of the 42 armed conflicts ongoing in 1999, 39 involved armed forces that had received U.S.-supplied arms, military technology, or military training.
Currently, child soldiers under age 18 operate within 36 countries, either in state militaries, government-supported paramilitaries, or opposition groups, which access U.S. weapons through theft and diversion. In FY 1999, the U.S. authorized the sale of weapons or the delivery of military training to 23 of these countries, 17 of which were actively engaged in conflict in 2001. The 23 countries are Algeria, Angola, Cambodia, Chad, Colombia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Israel, Lebanon, Mexico, Nepal, Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea (păp`ə, –y , Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, the Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Uganda, and Uzbekistan.
In Colombia's case, where some child soldiers are as young as eight, in FY 1999, the U.S. authorized over $4.5 million in foreign military sales That portion of United States security assistance authorized by the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, and the Arms Export Control Act of 1976, as amended. This assistance differs from the Military Assistance Program and the International Military Education and Training Program (FMS FMS - Flexible Manufacturing System (factory automation). ), $66 million in direct commercial sales (DCS (1) See also DSC.
(2) Digital Cross-connect System) A network switching and grooming device used by telecom carriers. See digital cross-connect. ), and nearly $1 million in training. Authorizations to the Philippines in the same year, reported to have soldiers as young as 10, totaled nearly $10 million in FMS, $91 million in DCS, and over $1 million in training. In Indonesia, where children as young as seven likely serve in both government-allied militias and opposition forces, the U.S. authorized over $2 million in FMS and training.
Shannon McManimon <email@example.com> works with the AFSC National Youth and Militarism Program. Rachel Stohl <firstname.lastname@example.org> is a Senior Analyst at CDI.