Sat Dec 24th, 2005 at 04:53:48 AM EST
From the front page (with minor edit) ~ whataboutbob
The Sydney Peace Prize was awarded in November to Olara Otunnu, former UN Under-secretary-General and special representative for Children and Armed Conflict. The text of his acceptance speech can be found here. I would like to expand on one part of his remarkable address below.
From Mr Otunnu's address:
Children are the primary victims of armed conflict. They are both its targets and increasingly its instruments. Their suffering bears many faces, in the midst of armed conflict and its aftermath. Children are killed or maimed, made orphans, abducted, deprived of education and health care, and left with deep emotional scars and trauma. They are recruited and used as child soldiers, forced to give expression to the hatred of adults. Uprooted from their homes, displaced children become very vulnerable. Girls face additional risks, particularly sexual violence and exploitation.
Over 250,000 children continue to be exploited as child soldiers - - used variously as combatants, porters, spies and sex slaves. Tens of thousands of girls are being subjected to rape and other forms of sexual violence, including as a deliberate tool of warfare.
Most cynically, children have been compelled to become themselves the instruments of war - - indeed the weapon of choice - -recruited or kidnapped to become child soldiers. Another feature of these conflicts is the proliferation of light-weight weapons that are easily assembled and borne by children.
Second, all offending parties, governments as well as insurgents, will continue to be identified publicly, in what has been called the `naming and shaming' list submitted annually to the Security Council since 2003. The latest report lists 54 offending parties in 11 countries. These include: the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka; FARC in Colombia; the Janjaweed from Sudan; the Communist Party of Nepal; the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda; the Karen National Liberation Army in Myanmar; and government forces in DRC, Myanmar and Uganda.
He talks about the real successes, and concludes with a case study in failure, one with which he is all too familiar, the horror that is Uganda:
I wonder if we have learned any lessons from history. When millions of Jews were exterminated during the Holocaust in Europe, we said `never again,' - - but after the fact. When genocide was perpetrated in Rwanda, we said `never again,' - - but again after the fact. When children and women were massacred in Srebrenica, we said `never again,' - - but after it was all over. The genocide unfolding in northern Uganda is happening on our watch, and with our full knowledge. Why is there no action?
UNICEF has realeased its annual report on the state of the world's children, The State of the World's Children 2006: Excluded and Invisible. While the figures are frustratingly vague (keep that title in mind), UNICEF guesses that between 250,000 and 300,000 children are engaged in armed conflict globally.
NPR segment with Olara Otunnu and Peter W. Singer of the Brookings Institution. Singer's own writings discuss the subject from many angles, including the vexing subject of American soldiers face to face with 12-year old soldiers. This is difficult. It does no good to look the other way, much as we would like to. This is what war is now, and what it increasingly will be.
The first American to die in Afghanistan was killed by a child.
From Childsoldiers.org, a Canada/Sierra Leone effort to heal the wounds:
I Will Lay Down the Arms now!!
by Rashid Peters, a student of iEARN Sierra Leone
When I was drugged and injected with cocaine, Forced to join the war of stains Brainwashed often and again, I would have told you I have so much to gain With the heavy arms I lug at war. And to convinve me out of it, I will say don't bother!!
Conscritpted away from my mother and father to shoot and murder another I cannot go any further, with this shooting and killing that has no border.
Forgive me now if I injured your brother. I was forced to pull the trigger By elders who made my childhood wither.
iEARN Sierra Leone,
Age 15 years
Two nations have failed to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Do I have to tell you? Would you like to guess? Somalia and the United States
. Bolton, prior to his current job, spoke against every convention on behalf of children and control of small arms sales that came before the UN. But you already knew that.
Resources (Almost literally at random. There are so many.)
The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers
Human Rights Watch
BBC: Children of Conflict
UN Convention on the Rights of the CHild
NPR: The Forgotten War in Uganda
These Sudanese adolescents chose to walk away: