In 2000, UN Convention 182–the “Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention”–came into force. This statute declared that the “forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict” fell within the worst forms of child labor and included provisions to move toward its elimination. Today an estimated 250,000 children continue to be enslaved as soldiers.

Burma/Myanmar Releases 42 Child Soldiers, Vows to End Practice

September 05, 2012 [from Voice of America]

The Burmese military has released 42 child soldiers from its ranks, as part of efforts to end the recruitment of underage fighters in the Southeast Asian country.

The state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper says army officials handed the children over to their parents and guardians at a ceremony in Rangoon on Monday.

The newspaper says Burmese officials also have vowed to rid the armed forces of all child soldiers within 18 months, in accordance with a United Nations agreement signed in June.

The U.N. says at least eight other armed groups, apart from the government armed forces, recruit and use child soldiers in Burma, including several rebel and separatist groups.

Since taking power last year, Burma’s nominally civilian government has undertaken several reforms, including easing media restrictions, allowing more freedom to opposition groups, and releasing hundreds of political prisoners.

But rights groups and activists have said that, despite the political and economic reforms, there have been no significant changes in human rights abuses carried out by Burma’s military, particularly in rebel-dominated areas. … Read the rest

SEC Adopts Reporting Rule to Help with Human Rights Issues Concerning Conflict Minerals

The primary mission of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is to protect investors from unfair or unscrupulous practices. Last week, however, the SEC did something remarkable: It agreed to adopt a rule with the goal of diminishing the human rights consequences of business practices.

The SEC voted by a narrow 3-2 margin to require companies that use so-called “conflict minerals”—metals like gold, tantalum, tin, and tungsten which end up in a wide array of products like cell phones, computers and other electronic devices—to file reports about the use of minerals that have been fueling violent conflict and abetting widespread social abuses like the use of child soldiers. The rules were mandated under section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill and targeted towards minerals extracted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighboring countries.

Although two commissioners debated whether the SEC’s core mission of protecting investors should be expanded in this way, they agreed that conflict in the DRC and neighboring countries is a pressing problem and that warring groups are using profits from mineral extraction to engage in armed conflict and a wide variety of human rights abuses. Commissioners Troy Paredes and Daniel Gallagher voted against adopting the rule, arguing that there was no clear evidence that the reporting requirement would help solve civil rights abuses and that the SEC had no jurisdiction to tackle human rights problems. Gallagher complained that the SEC’s proposed rule had no exemptions for small businesses and said the reporting requirements might be overly burdensome.

SEC chair Mary Schapiro joined commissioners Luis Aguilar and Elise Walter in voting for adopting the reporting rule. The three commissioners were quick to point out that the SEC was under a congressional mandate to implement the provisions and that the humanitarian crisis in sub-Saharan Africa is severe and required action.

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Sudan’s Lost Boys: Our Hopes for a New Country

When South Sudan was created as an independent country in July, it offered a new hope and possibilities for a whole generation whose childhood was blighted by civil war.

Among the victims of Sudan’s conflict were 27,000 boys orphaned by the fighting. Known as the Lost Boys, some were forced to fight as child soldiers, while others fled and became refugees.

An estimated 1.5 million people were killed and another four million were displaced in what became Africa’s longest-running conflict.

The refugees fled to camps in Ethiopia and other neighbouring countries. It was a dangerous journey – many drowned or died from hunger. Others were killed by wild animals. Some of those who survived ended up far away, in countries such as the US. Read more

Darfurian Armed Group Commits to Not Using Child Soliders

Thursday, 6 October 2011, 1:23 pm
Source: UN News

Darfurian Armed Group Makes Commitment to UN to Stop Using Child Soldiers

New York, Oct 5 2011 – A faction of one of the armed groups in Darfur has agreed to prohibit the use of child soldiers in its ranks after discussions with the joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Sudanese region (UNAMID), the mission reported today.

The Sudan Liberation Army’s Historical Leadership, a breakaway group of the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdel Wahid (SLA/Abdel Wahid), submitted an action plan to the UN through Ibrahim Gambari, the AU-UN Joint Special Representative and head of UNAMID, on 25 September committing to end recruitment and use of child soldiers in compliance with Security Council resolutions on children and armed conflict.

The group’s leader, Usman Musa, had in August issued a command order to his faction’s members to stop “recruiting and using children in the ranks of the movement.” His order also prohibited attacks on schools and hospitals and “all behaviour that leads to abuse and violence against children, including sexual abuse and forced marriage.”

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