A Lost Generation: Young People and Conflict in Africa
are such opportunities so limited? And why, when the international community and national governments are so concerned with re-establishing governance and democratisation in post-conflict situations, are young people not given more encouragement to organise for themselves?
The policy framework
The international community places considerable emphasis on the vulnerability of youth and children in conflict and has created a number of initiatives to
In addition to
several key more detail
instruments of below), the UN
international human Secretary-General has
appointed a Special Representative a special UN Programme for Youth key issues (United Nations 2007).
for Children and Armed Conflict, addressing youth and conflict as
has set up
Children’s special vulnerabilities in violent conflict came to the
international of the 1949
Geneva Convention marked the first official protection of children, stating that ‘children
international statement on the legal shall be the object of special respect
and aid they require, whether because of their early document addressing the vulnerability of
age or young
people in conflict was supplemented by the Geneva Convention and its and II in 1977, which discouraged states’ use of under-18s to carry arms, established the legal concept of children as victims during times of war.
Protocols I and which
The 1990 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) established children’s protection from violence, abuse and exploitation as a right to be upheld even during times of armed conflict. Responsibility for upholding this right falls on parents and legal guardians, and also on states themselves, which are enjoined to implement legislative, administrative, social and educational safeguards against all forms of violence, neglect, injury or abuse, physical and mental. The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (drawn up in 1990) reinforces these rights in the African context, and requires states to protect children from (amongst other things) sexual exploitation, torture and enlistment in armed forces. It commits African states to protecting the civilian population, including children, from all forms of abuse and violence during the course of hostilities, including internal hostilities and tension.
The 1990s saw a change in the nature of armed conflict with the end of the Cold War and the rise in small-scale conflicts throughout the world. Reports of ‘child soldiers’ became frequent during this period, challenging the image of children