The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child was established in 1990 and went into effect in 1999. This treaty, the only one of its kind, was designed to protect children from a range of human rights violations, including forced recruitment as soldiers in regional conflicts. Although much has been accomplished to help shield children from the horrors of civil war, the recruitment of children into militant organizations remains a serious problem in several African nations. For this reason, the United Nations and the African Union have reaffirmed their commitment to protecting children from being used as soldiers.
Representatives of the two organizations signed the agreement Sept. 17. This treaty formalizes several ongoing initiatives designed to protect children's rights in countries where recruitment of youths as soldiers is still prevalent. Aside from the goal of protecting children, a second goal is to promote security and peace across countries where political conflict is still a danger to regional stability.
"As the African Union is taking a larger role in the continent's mediation and peacekeeping operations, it had become essential to make our partnership stronger," said Leila Zerrougui, special representative of the U.N.'s secretary general for children and armed conflict. "A significant number of children affected by armed conflict live on the African continent. With this agreement, my office will work even more closely with the African Union and UNICEF to respond to their plight."
Several of the countries in which ChildFund operates have been affected by civil war and political unrest, including Liberia and Sierra Leone. Young people who are forced to take up arms or be human shields are robbed of the chance to be children. They witness bloodshed and violence that can leave deep psychological scars, and upon returning home, they sometimes are ostracized by their communities. Without ongoing psychosocial support like ChildFund provides, these children can develop a range of emotional problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
You can help ChildFund support children affected by war by becoming a child sponsor. For just $28 per month, you can ensure that children have everything they need to move past armed conflicts and live stable, fulfilling lives. Please consider sponsoring a child today. Your generosity will make a difference that lasts a lifetime.