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Tensions in UNICEF on Education, Employment and Reintegration

By Bryson Koh, TIME

Published: 19 Mar 2019 - 11:34 PM

Delegates in serious discussion during an unmoderated caucus

Delegates in serious discussion during an unmoderated caucus

In past conferences, the members of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) have undergone massive debate sessions, discussing preventive measures to tackle the problem of Children Recruitment in Armed Forces, as well as how to reintegrate ex-child soldiers back into society.

In the first conference of the day, member states debated over the measures that needed to be taken to tackle the issue of child soldiers. The main concerns of education and employment surfaced. The delegates of USA, China and Mexico, had proposed the use of UNICEF’s humanitarian funds as well as funds from More Economically Developed Countries (MEDCs) to set up UN safe zones. These places are remote from conflict-stricken regions and serve to provide rehabilitation and education to ex-child soldiers. These allow children to escape from conflict and thus reduce their likelihood of re-joining the military forces. Another proposal raised by the delegate of Philippines is having joint military cooperation, which includes sharing intel, having joint exercises and the provision of training for military personnel. This was questioned by the delegate of Cambodia, who said “This is not UNICEF’s job scope, but UNSC’s. We should be focusing on other areas that encompass the duty of UNICEF.”

In the second conference, the member states had discussed measures to reintegrate ex-child soldiers back into society. Recognising the importance of having the measures restore the mental health of a child after he has served in the military, solutions such as rehabilitation and therapy were proposed. The delegate of Philippines highlighted the importance of having Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) be involved in the reintegration of child soldiers. The delegate of Somalia also proposed having foster families adopt these child soldiers. However, this measure was countered by the delegate of Germany, who proposed to have reunification of child soldiers with their original families instead. Another solution proposed by the delegate of USA was to have religious rehabilitation, in which previously radicalised ex-child soldiers would be counselled to prevent further radicalisation and to prevent them from re-joining the military. However, the delegate of Philippines countered this, saying that “We are doing what the enemies are doing, forcing a religion onto an innocent child.”

As the third overall session comes to a close, discussions have led member states of the Council to finally come to a consensus and merge their draft resolutions. This ended the two blocks that seemed to be forming previously, and the finalised resolution would be presented to end the first topic of the debate in the last session of the day.