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UNICEF: Exploring deeper into the problem “Children Recruitment in Armed Forces”

By Magdalene Tong, Agence France-Presse

Published: 19 Mar 2019 - 12:05 PM

Picture of a child soldier in Afghanistan

Picture of a child soldier in Afghanistan

The debate started today at the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), covering the topic of “Children Recruitment in Armed Forces”. The members of the UNICEF emphasises the fact that the recruitment of child soldiers infringes the basic human rights a child deserve and came to a consensus where all delegates are strongly against the thriving of such recruitment.

The members of UNICEF explored into the probabilities of other motives behind the reason for the thriving of the recruitment of child soldiers and gave deeper insights regarding this. Some delegates, such as the delegate of Germany, pointed out rightfully that the motives behind the issue of recruitment of child soldiers may be the key to come up with appropriate solutions, preventing this problem from exacerbating. The main reason for the thriving of child soldiers is poverty and it is affirmed by the members. However, there are many other possible reasons that are often harder to track. For instance, in the less economically developed countries (LEDs), homeless children lying along the streets is a common sight. Thus, such homeless children are often perceived as an easy target by the armed groups, resulting in these children getting forced into the army unknowingly.

Also, delegates like the delegate of Venezuela, mentioned that it is common in their country to have children lured to armed forces by the fact that food would be provided in there. As Venezuela often faces a shortage of food, the supply of basic necessities in the army can become a motivation for the children to enter the armed forces. The delegate of the United Kingdom (UK) stated that the promotion of military groups in certain schools of UK may be a potential reason for the increase in child soldiers recruited as free military resources may be used as a bait to attract children to join the military groups.

Besides exploring the motives of the children, the members of UNICEF also had a debate over the possible solutions that UNICEF and the countries can take to help better improve the current situation.

During the unmoderated caucus, the delegates discussed and came up with a few possible preventive measures, that could be implemented to deal with the problem. Firstly, financial assistance can be provided to people that are suffering from poverty. The delegate of Turkey mentioned that they encourage the council to channel funding to countries that need the funds, so that the problem of poverty can be reduced across the world, allowing the need of child soldiers to decrease. Delegates, such as the delegate of Somalia and Nigeria, urge the more economically developed countries (MEDs) to help the LEDs by sending them the support and resources the LEDs require, which is a way to prevent the problem from worsening.

Secondly, international databases can also be used to track down armed groups that persist on recruiting child soldiers. The delegate of Germany pointed out that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) can collaborate with UNICEF to track down military groups recruiting child soldiers and punish them severely, giving warnings to other military groups as well to deter them from recruiting more child soldiers.

Thirdly, the delegates suggested that full cooperation and collaboration among countries would curb the problem effectively. The delegate of United States of America (USA) mentioned that existing solutions for the problem are ineffective, largely because of the lack of cooperation among countries, making it harder to track the armed groups that are recruiting child soldiers.

Lastly, the delegates also proposed that humanitarian aid should be provided to more people, especially the less privileged. Several delegates, such as the delegate of the USA, supported the idea of venturing into the quality of life, allowing more less privileged to be able to access to basic necessities such as food, education and so on.

The different solutions proposed are definitely potentially helpful if implemented. However, there is a need to look into the hidden shortcomings or oversights of this solutions, to provide a more comprehensive one. As the session came to an end, the issue discussed today, together with the reasons, impacts and solutions, will be further developed tomorrow. The council will reconvene tomorrow, hoping to come to a consensus for all delegates of UNICEF and coming up with the resolution to sum up the debate over the recruitment of child soldiers.