A Lost Generation: Young People and Conflict in Africa
This evidence is quite troubling. They show how close young girls are to death in situations of armed conflict. This evidence demonstrates that those who are lucky to survive from being killed immediately may not be fortunate enough to escape from slow deaths arising from diseases like HIV/AIDS.
3. Child Soldiers
“[We carried] munitions, rockets and food provisions, the dead & wounded. [The soldiers said] that we kadogo should stand in front in battles, as the bullets couldn’t touch us … .” (Gakobwa Marie, Burundi Case Study)
International human rights and humanitarian laws prohibit the use of child soldiers i.e.persons who have not attained the age of 18 years. Emphasis is placed on protecting, rather than using children as soldiers. In keeping with its general objective, the CRC requires States to undertake ‘feasible measures to ensure protection and care of children who are affected by an armed conflict’. Unlike the CRC, which focuses on States, the ambit of Protocol I is wider. It centers on State and non-State agencies. The Protocol requires parties to hostilities to protect children from ‘any form of indecent assault’. Rather, they should seek to provide them with ‘care’ and ‘aid’.
International law nominates two ages for instances where children engage in active hostilities. Article 38 of the CRC places an absolute prohibition on States from recruiting persons who are under the age of 15 years. This article requires them to ‘refrain from recruiting any person who has not attained the age of fifteen years into their armed forces’. They are also required to ‘take all feasible measures to ensure that persons who have not attained [this] age do not take a direct part in hostilities’. This article allows States to recruit into their forces children who are between 15 and 18 years. But they need to ‘give priority to those who are oldest’. These provisions reiterate earlier provisions of international humanitarian law, which were set out in article 77 of the 1977 Protocol I. But, unlike the CRC, the ambit of Protocol I is wider. Article 77(2) of Protocol I provides:
The Parties to the conflict shall take all feasible measures in order that children who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities and, in particular, they shall refrain from recruiting them into their armed forces. In recruiting among those persons who have attained the age of fifteen years but who have not attained the age of eighteen years the Parties to the conflict shall endeavour to give priority to those who are oldest.