International Children’s Rights Day
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Meeting in Geneva on :
“The recruitment of child soldiers by armed militias”
Monday 21 November 2022

Please find the PPT slides  HERE. 

Intervention by Michel Veuthey


Child soldiers are a subject that deserves more attention, both in humanitarian and security terms.


The 300,000 child soldiers are part of the 50 million contemporary slaves, as documented by the ILO and IOM in a report in September of this year, ten million more than estimated five years ago.


Child soldiers are often victims of various forms of human trafficking – forced labor, sexual and pornographic exploitation, organ theft and trafficking, and forced crime, including arms and drug trafficking and terrorism.


As you can see, there is a plethora of law…Many international, regional and national legal instruments could be better used to prevent, protect and rehabilitate child soldiers:

– Human rights, especially the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and its Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict (2000)

– the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

– the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings

– the ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour

– the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their two Additional Protocols of 1977 on the protection of war victims

– the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which qualifies as a war crime the conscription or enlistment of children under the age of 15 into the armed forces, whether in times of international conflict or not.

refugee law, as former child soldiers, their families, and their former commanders will be able to apply for asylum and be granted – or not – refugee status.

– the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol, known as the Palermo Protocol, to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.


What to do?

  1. Mobilize public awareness through information, training and dialogue with the parties in conflict
  2. Share good practices from governments, international organizations and civil society, including NGOs such as Geneva Call and faith-based organizations
  3. Promote action for prevention, protection and rehabilitation. An example is this Action Plan proposed by the UN and UNICEF.


The key word is cooperation, at all levels, international, regional, national, governmental and civil society!

Mobilize all stakeholders, governments, other parties to the conflict, civil society, faith-based organizations and spiritual leaders, as well as the private economic sector, the media, universities, the educational and medical system


In conclusion, here are four proposals:


  1. Adapt international treaties and national legislation to combat violence against children and their exploitation, particularly online, on social networks and on the Internet in general
  2. Apply and implement existing treaties and national law and National Plans for the protection of children in armed conflict
  3. Mobilize public opinion and train state and non-state actors to identify, protect, and rehabilitate child soldiers
  4. Increase support for Government and civil society efforts to prevent, protect, and rehabilitate child soldiers. These efforts should combine a variety of approaches, including security, humanitarian, medical, psychological, educational, and spiritual; address victims and their families and communities; and adopt restorative justice, reparative justice, and reconciliation approaches.


Thank you for your support of this cause which deserves the attention of all of us!

MV DG 21 XI 22