The Convention on the Rights of the Child – 25 years on

The Convention on the Rights of the Child – 25 years on

Different perspectives on the need to underline the promises made to children everywhere – and take action!

The Convention on the Rights of the Child represents a remarkable milestone in the journey to build a more just world: it is the first international instrument to articulate the entire complement of rights relevant to children – economic, social, cultural, civil and political. It is also the first international instrument to explicitly recognize children as active holders of their own rights.

The importance of the Convention was recognized from the outset and it quickly became the most rapidly and widely ratified human rights treaty in history. The Convention has now been ratified by 194 States.Its almost universal ratification shows an unparalleled level of agreement among the world’s nations: That children must receive the treatment and respect to which they have an innate and immutable right.

The Convention offers a vision of a world in which children have a healthy start in life and are educated and protected, a world in which their views are respected and they can develop their full physical and mental potential. its guiding principles – non-discrimination; the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child – have had a profound influence on how children are treated and regarded the world over.


The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most rapidly and widely ratified international human rights treaty in history.

The Convention changed the way children are viewed and treated – i.e., as human beings with a distinct set of rights instead of as passive objects of care and charity.

The unprecedented acceptance of the Convention clearly shows a wide global commitment to advancing children’s rights.

There is much to celebrate as we mark the 25th anniversary of the Convention, from declining infant mortality to rising school enrolment, but this historic milestone must also serve as an urgent reminder that much remains to be done. Too many children still do not enjoy their full rights on par with their peers.

Business as usual is not enough to make the vision of the Convention a reality for all children. The world needs new ideas and approaches, and the Convention must become a guiding document for every human being in every nation.

Twenty-five years ago, world leaders were united behind a common vision: to promote and protect the rights of all children.

The adoption of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child was a landmark moment: For the first time, children were recognized as the holders of a unique set of rights — education, leisure, participate in society, health and protection.

We’ve come a long way in those 25 years. For example, the number of children under the age of 5 that die each year from preventable causes has almost halved globally, and almost 50 million more children are in school. Yet the fact remains that we are a long way from realizing the vision set out in the CDC. Children’s rights are still violated daily, in the European Union and globally. Today, 57 million children are still unable to go to school and 250 million children are either out of school or not learning. Up to 1.5 billion children experience violence annually. Almost 27 million European children are at risk of poverty or social exclusion.

While the EU has played its part in the progress made, it must also accept responsibility for the gaps which remain. Too often, despite promises on paper, Brussels has failed to live up to its commitments to children. The current Human Rights Strategic Framework and accompanying Action Plan, for example, is a case in point. While this had the potential to make a positive and lasting difference to the lives of children around the world, many of the proposed actions — such as the campaign aimed at eliminating violence against children — were never implemented.

On the 25th anniversary of the CRC, we want more EU action on these three topics to fulfil the bloc’s commitments to children:

1. Develop a strategic and comprehensive human rights framework. The protection of children’s rights is an explicit objective in the EU’s internal and external action thanks to theLisbon Treaty, and the new EU leadership has a golden opportunity to address previous shortcomings and realize the bloc’s objectives in this area. The newly appointed European Commission must actively develop a comprehensive vision for the future of the EU’s policies and legislation that will impact on children within and outside of Europe. It must do this through tools such as Policy Coherence for Development, as well as through specific policies on children’s rights. The European Commission and European External Action Service must therefore strive to deliver a much more strategic and comprehensive human rights framework when it is renewed in 2015. Crucially, there must be concerted action by EU delegations to implement the framework.

2. Ensure adequate and sustained investment in children’s rights. This must be backed up by adequate, sustained investment in programs which take a holistic approach to promoting children’s rights. Through the “child well-being” budget line in the 2014-2020 Development Cooperation Instrument, the EU has the ability to do precisely this. Working in concert with other budget lines affecting children, such as those covering health, education and gender equality, the EU has the means necessary to ensure the rights enshrined in the CRC are fulfilled.

3. Emphasize participation, equality, inclusion and accountability post-2015. Globally, the EU must push for a post-2015 framework that places the rights and the well-being of children at its center, with a strong emphasis on participation, equality, inclusion and accountability. Given the universality of the future framework and its wide scope in covering social, economic, environmental and governance issues — all of which are critical for children — the EU must ensure that the goals and targets are both ambitious enough and relevant for implementation internally in the EU as well as externally. Sustained and long-term action is required for all children to claim their rights. Investing in the survival, development, protection and participation of all girls and boys is essential for the promotion of sustainable development, the fulfilment of human rights, and addressing structural inequalities and intergenerational poverty.

As the EU’s new leaders take over the reins, they must push for children’s rights to be mainstreamed throughout all the bloc’s development work. Change requires action, and action requires political will and real investment. Good intentions are not enough. The EU should play its part in making the promises of the CRC a reality for all children.

By Alexandra Makaroff, Ester Asin Martinez, Deirdre de Burca 20 November 2014.

In addition to the authors and their organizations, this article is also co-signed by the Alliance for Childhood European Network Group, Eurochild, Missing Children Europe, PICUM and SOS Children’s Villages.

And how the CRC is progressing:

Three optional protocols to the Convention have been adopted by the General Assembly. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography was adopted on 25 May 2000 and came into force on 18 January 2002. It requires States parties to prohibit the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the involvement of children in armed conflict was also adopted on 25 May 2000 and came into force on 12 February 2002. It requires States parties to take all feasible measures to ensure that children do not take a direct part in hostilities. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on a communications procedure was adopted on 19 December 2011 and provides a mechanism for the submission of communications by or on behalf of an individual or group claiming to be victims of a violation of the Convention. Communications submitted under this Optional Protocol are received and considered by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, which was established under the Convention. This Optional Protocol has not yet entered into force.


CRIN reminds us of the many conflicts in which children’s rights are certainly not protected or promoted.

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). To mark that event, this special issue of the Children and Armed Conflict CRINmail draws attention to conflicts and issues affecting children in conflict that have slipped out of our consciousness or never made it there in the first place.

In times of armed conflict, children’s rights are violated in horrific ways: they are killed and maimed, abducted, recruited to fight, and experience sexual violence and attacks on their daily lives.

According to the 1996 UN report on the ‘Impact of Armed Conflict on Children’, prepared by Graça Machel, “in recent decades, the proportion of war victims who are civilians has leaped dramatically from five per cent to over 90 per cent.“

Hundreds of children are dying, with many more injured and displaced, while those responsible escape with impunity. Perpetrators of violations of children’s rights in times of armed conflict must be prosecuted to ensure victims obtain justice and reparation.

Information is a powerful – and necessary – tool for conveying the horrors of warfare, understanding the impact of conflict on different population groups, gathering evidence on possible rights violations and eventually securing accountability.

World Toilet Day 2014 – Equality and Dignity

World Toilet Day 2014 – Equality and Dignity


Every year on Nov. 19, the international community celebrates World Toilet Day to create awareness about the lack of access to basic sanitation currently affecting 2.5 billion people.

This year’s theme is “Equality and Dignity.” Different stakeholders will convene at the United Nations headquarters in New York to explore, among other issues, the linkages between gender-based violence and sanitation, highlighting the incidence of increased vulnerability to all forms of violence for women and girls when there is a short supply of safe, private and easily accessible sanitation.

U.N. Women leads the global effort to end all forms of violence against women. This month, the organization places emphasis on ending violence against women by featuring facts, stories, audiovisual and social media content, and calling for action against this grave human rights violation, as part of a yearlong campaign leading up to the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action called “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity — Picture It!

toilet day



World Toilet Day is a day to take action. It is a day to raise awareness about all people who do not have access to a toilet – despite the human right to water and sanitation.

It is a day to do something about it.


Of the world’s seven billion people, 2.5 billion people do not have improved sanitation. 1 billion people still defecate in the open. Women and girls risk rape and abuse because they have no toilet that offers privacy.

We cannot accept this situation. Sanitation is a global development priority. This is why the United Nations General Assembly in 2013 designated 19 November as World Toilet Day. This day had previously been marked by international and civil society organizations all over the world but was was not formally recognized as an official UN day until 2013. World Toilet Day is coordinated by UN-Water in collaboration with Governments and relevant stakeholders.

As we accelerate efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and draft a solid post-2015 development agenda, we have a historic opportunity to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment. Addressing the needs of women and girls with regard to proper sanitation needs to be a vital component. Why? Because women and girls are disproportionately affected by inadequate access to sanitation due to a number of physiological, social and cultural factors. These challenges cannot be overcome without addressing the correlation between sanitation and women’s vulnerability to gender-based violence.

Overall, inadequate access to sanitation unequally affects women and girls in many of the following ways: Unhygienic public toilets and latrines threaten the health of women and girls who are prone to reproductive tract infections caused by poor sanitation; during menstruation, pregnancy and postnatal stages, the need for adequate sanitation becomes even more critical; and, when sanitation facilities are available, it tends to be women who bear cleaning responsibilities and disposal of human waste such as “manual scavengers,” making them susceptible to disease.

When women and girls do not have access to private sanitation facilities, they resort to open areas, find a remote (often unprotected and hidden) place or travel a distance to where facilities exist.

Not only does this cause women and girls to suffer indignity, severe health risks, fear, shame and ostracism, but it increases their risk of multiple abuses including harassment, bullying,  physical and sexual assault, inappropriate touching and other nonconsensual sexual acts, including rape. This causes individual harm, curtailing their freedom of mobility, limiting their productive activities, and denying them full participation in community matters and decision-making that have a bearing on their lives — while the lack of adequate sanitary facilities in schools inhibits access to education.




Equality and dignity is the theme of World Toilet Day 2014. The campaign will inspire action to end open defecation and put spotlight on how access to improved sanitation leads to a reduction in assault and violence on women and girls. More about this here. 

Having to defecate openly infringes on human safety and dignity. Women and girls risk rape and abuse as they wait until night falls because they lack of access to a toilet that offers privacy.

Where toilets do exist, additional inequalities present in usability. Toilets generally remain inadequate for populations with special needs, such as the disabled and elderly, and women and girls requiring facilities to manage menstrual hygiene.

Without accessible toilets for these populations, they remain excluded from opportunities to attend school and gain employment.



Know your toilets…..


Important policy actions include analyzing and responding to vulnerabilities to violence in sanitation-related policies, strategies, plans, budgets and systems; building the capacity of staff and partners; consulting with gender-based violence specialists to support an appropriate response in the sector; designing, constructing and managing infrastructure to account for and reduce vulnerabilities; ensuring that community members have adequate information on safety linked to water and sanitation and hygiene and have access to reporting and recourse mechanisms; and most importantly, ensuring that women and girls, especially those who may be marginalized are consulted and part of the planning processes.

Social movements, like the “No Toilet, No Bride” initiative in India, are helping to alter behavior, social and cultural norms.

Also critical is the acknowledgement that violence occurs fundamentally because women and girls have less power in society and because of the gender discrimination they face. It is not enough to only address the immediate needs within water and sanitation. These key measures must be accompanied by the broader and more comprehensive work that is required to address violence against women and girls. This requires governments to proactively and concretely invest in structural and institutional change and social transformation that can undo the systemic gender inequality and discrimination that tolerate and allow abuse.


Much violence against girls occur at or near schools – there is a big job to be done to challenge inequalities, discrimination and violence in schools – and then to take action.

small_Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 16.27.11


Gender equality and access to clean, safe and private sanitation, must be prioritized in the post-2015 development agenda, taking into account the particular needs of women and girls to secure economic progress, and ensure a life of dignity and safety for all.

(ref:Begoña Lasagabaster)

Day of the Girl 2014 – breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence

Day of the Girl 2014 – breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence


While working in Eastern and Southern Africa, there is not a day goes by without hearing about girls being discriminated against and being abused just for trying to get an education. Verbal, physical and sexual violence against girls is particularly prevalent. We need to end these cycles of violence…..

Empowerment of and investment in girls are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights”

-United Nations Resolution 66/170

Day of the Girl 2014 – Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence (Podcast)


Changing the World for Girls is a collaboration between the Beyond School Books podcast series and United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI). In this series you will find discussions on the lasting impact education has on girls, communities and nations around the world.

This latest episode features Kuoth Wiel, a young actress who appears in the new Hollywood release, The Good Lie; and Professor Fiona Leach, an expert on international education.

To listen the Podcast, click here.

Check this infographic on the reasons to invest in girls’ education


Malala -no stranger to violence….

Nobel Peace Prize Win for Malala Is a Message to All Students Living in Conflict- Yes You Can

The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) congratulates Pakistani education activist, Malala Yousafzai, and Indian child rights activist, Kailash Satyarthi, for winning the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. “Around the world, girls and boys growing up in conflict face similar threats as Malala Yousafzai braved in Pakistan—her courage gives hope to all students fighting for their right to education,” said GCPEA Director Diya Nijhowne. “  “By honoring Yousafzai and Satyarthi, the Nobel Committee has recognized the critical link between addressing the dire protection needs of so many of the world’s children and achieving peace and security,” said Nijhowne.”

To read more, click here


Breaking Cycles of Gender-based Violence in Schools Starts at Home


This summer the world was captivated by the news of the schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria. Nigerian mothers became activists and international figures, including Malala Yousafzai, descended on the country in protest. Presidents around the world lent their voices to the outcry. Over a million tweets about the #BringBackOurGirls campaign spread throughout social media. Violence against adolescent girls in school-related settings takes center stage again this week as the world marks the International Day of the Girl Child on 11 October.

Too often schools are a place where children face violence—including bullying, sexual and physical harassment and abuse, verbal violence, rape and assault. Though boys and girls are affected by SRGBV, girls are the most vulnerable.

To read the full post, click here.

Moving Images of climate change – Action4Climate.

Ten young film crews from ten different countries were chosen as winners in the Action4Climate documentary competition.


In the 18-35 age category, the $15,000 top prize went to the Portuguese filmmaker Gonçalo Tocha with this provocative film : Trail of a tale




An American film maker, Nathan Dappen, won third prize with his  Snows of the Nile, a documentary following Nathan’s adventures uncovering indisputable evidence of the fast disappearing glaciers of Uganda’s mountains of the moon.



I have to say, my particular favourite is from the younger 14-17 age group, an animated film by Francina Ramos, a young Argentinian filmmaker and her co-producer Benjamin Braceras.The Violin Player took top spot in this age range.



Get creative and educate – the future is ours if we act now!


EBOLA : don’t panic – educate!

There is a dichotomy at present in the reaction to the EBOLA virus –are we doing enough in West Africa or are we developing a panic syndrome, so much so that inaction takes over…

From the latest INEE newsletter

Launch of the Ebola Communication Network

Ebola Communication Network

On October 8th, the Ebola Communication Network (ECN), was launched. The ECN is an online collection of Ebola resources, materials and tools from and for the global health community. The ECN  is populated with more than 120 resources, including not only SBCC materials like posters, brochures and infographics, but also Demographic and Health Surveys of affected regions, customized maps and peer-reviewed journal articles. The site is responsive to mobile devices and optimized for low bandwidth situations. It includes an RSS feed of Ebola-related news that is updated in real time.

ECN’s faceted search allows users to find materials based on language, type (e.g., public service announcements, posters, and fact sheets), topic (e.g., prevention, treatment, safe burial practices), audience (e.g., community health workers, governments, health care providers) and any other facets deemed necessary. Those working in the fight against Ebola can use ECN to search and share resources, and help build the collection by uploading quality communication materials they have developed for use in the field.

To use the Ebola Communication Network, click here.

Ebola’s Impact on Children and Education
Child Protection Working Group

With inputs from education, the Child Protection Working Group has developedtwo short documents on how children are affected by Ebola.

In Liberia and Sierra Leone it was decided not to open schools for the new school year in August 2014, and the Ministries of Education have not yet made any recommendations as to when schools might reopen. In Guinea and Nigeria it has been proposed to open schools in October, though, the probability of this happening everywhere is uncertain. For example, in Nigeria many school administrators decided to postpone reopening due to attacks on schools, teachers strikes and because many schools have not been equipped with post Ebola kits. As a consequence of the epidemic millions of children of school going age are not able to attend school in these four countries.

Click below to access the Child Protection Working Group’s two short documents:

Conflict Sensitive Strategies in Education

Conflict sensitive education refers to the design and delivery of education programs and policies in a way that considers the conflict context and aims to minimize the negative impact (contribution to conflict) and maximize positive impact (contribution to peace).

Update from INEE

Incorporating Conflict Sensitive Strategies into the INEE-Education Cluster EiE Training Package

This document has been added to Module 0-Guidance and Time Tabling in order to incorporate a conflict sensitive component to the INEE-Education Cluster EiE Training Package. The purpose of this document is to help workshop facilitators highlight conflict sensitive education (CSE) strategies relevant to the topics of the modules in the training package. Only the modules most relevant to CSE strategies are included. The text is drawn from the INEE Guidance Note on Conflict Sensitive Education, specifically the Quick Reference Tool.

More information regarding the CSE Pack can be found on the INEE Toolkit and the INEE Website. CSE Training Materials are also available here. The complete INEE-Education Cluster EiE Training Package and supporting resources can be found on the INEE Toolkit or the INEE Website
It is worth exploring the difference between conflict sensitivity and peacebuilding-
Peacebuilding and Conflict Sensitivity: Is there a difference?
Collaborative Learning Projects

We use these words a lot and they mean different things to different people. Does the difference matter? How does the difference shape the way we deliver social programs in conflict affected contexts? Researchers Peter Woodrow and Diana Chigas answer these questions and more in their paper, “A Distinction With a Difference: Conflict Sensitivity and Peacebuilding.”

Quality and Inequality – Blog Action Day 2014

Yes it is Blog Action Day 2014.




Lets start with a vid:


Why quality? I am thinking about the quality of education -how it is denied to so many children and how good quality education could improve the chances of many and thus reduce inequalities.


Gender inequality


Food and inequality..

Only now are we considering taking malnutrition seriously :

some facts:

More than three million children under the age of five die annually of malnutrition, the UN food agency and World Health Organisation said on Thursday, urging governments to tackle the problem.

“Malnutrition is responsible for about half of all child deaths under five years of age, causing over three million deaths every year,” the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said.

Some 162 million children are left stunted by chronic malnutrition and 99 million children are underweight across the world, it added.

Since the first international conference on nutrition in 1992, “important advances in the fight against hunger and malnutrition have been made, but this progress has been insufficient and uneven,” FAO head Jose Graziano da Silva said.

There has only been a 17 percent reduction in undernourishment since the early 1990s, leaving over 840 million people still chronically undernourished.

The FAO and WHO urged governments to “make stronger commitments… to ensure healthier diets for all” at an international conference on nutrition to be held in Rome in November.

They warned that various forms of malnutrition often overlap and can coexist within the same country and even within the same household.

“Around 160 million children under five are stunted or chronically malnourished, while over two billion people suffer one or more micronutrient deficiencies,” they said in a statement.

“At the same time, another half billion are obese.”

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said the aim of the upcoming conference was to get governments to ask themselves “why is it that severe undernutrition and obesity can exist side by side in the same country and in the same community?”

She also called for more research into the health and environmental implications of “the rapid rise in the demand for meat and other animal products that coincides with rising income levels.”

Efforts to improve food and nutrition security continue to be hampered by low political commitment and weak institutional arrangements, the agencies said.


Inequalities abound – who gets water, shelter, access to nutritious food, quality education and health services seem to be dependent on where you were born -or is it more to do with power relationships?

Although I enjoy studying history, the rationale for studying history is spelt out as ‘so that we can learn from the past’ If this is correct , why do we continue to make the same mistakes whether it is to do with conflicts (Wars etc) or distribution of resources ? The strong (politics or wealth related) seem to always have the upper hand and inequalities seem to have to exist, otherwise the powerful lose their strength.

Quality and Inequality

UNICEF has provided food for thought when considering quality dimensions of education:

Children have a right to an education, a quality education.
Quality education includes:
Learners who are healthy, well-nourished and ready to participate and learn, and
supported in learning by their families and communities;

Environments that are healthy, safe, protective and gender-sensitive, and provide
adequate resources and facilities;

Content that is reflected in relevant curricula and materials for the acquisition ofbasic skills, especially in the areas of literacy, numeracy and skills for life, and knowledge in such areas as gender, health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS prevention and peace.

Processes through which trained teachers use child-centred teaching approaches in
well-managed classrooms and schools and skilful assessment to facilitate learning
and reduce disparities.
Outcomes that encompass knowledge, skills and attitudes, and are linked to
national goals for education and positive participation in society.
This definition allows for an understanding of education as a complex system embedded in a political, cultural and economic context.

In all aspects of the school and its surrounding education community, the
rights of the whole child, and all children, to survival, protection,
development and participation are at the centre. This means that the focus is
on learning which strengthens the capacities of children to act progressively
on their own behalf through the acquisition of relevant knowledge, useful
skills and appropriate attitudes; and which creates for children, and helps
them create for themselves and others, places of safety, security and healthy
interaction. (Bernard, 1999)

I wonder how far this definition can be applied to areas of conflict where children are often either used in conflicts (e.g. child soldiers) or their schools become targets of aggression or they become ‘collateral damage’ in civil wars.

CRIN has reported on recent documentation of some of the recent misuse and abuse of children:

Attacks on education

Targeting schools and schoolchildren is a grave violation of children’s rights. Even in times of war, schools and hospitals must remain safe places for children to learn and develop.

But in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, children have been forced to study outside school buildings since 21 September when rebels took control of the city and occupied a number of schools, after a few days of brief but bloody fighting.

The Houthis, Shiite rebels, now control almost all state buildings, from the airport and the central bank to the Ministry of Defence.

The Houthis have fought the Yemeni government forces and pro-government tribal fighters through six rounds of fighting since 2004 from their stronghold in Saada, north of Sanaa. In 2011, they took complete control of Saada province.

Their takeover of the capital threatens to provoke a violent backlash from Sunni militants belonging to al-Qaeda. Last week, an al-Qaeda suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden car into a hospital used by the Houthis, killing one person. The group, known as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, vowed to fight the rebels and called on other Sunnis for support.

A suicide bomber struck again on Thursday, killing at least 42 people,including several children, apparently targeting a Houthi checkpoint. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks. The death toll was expected to climb further, with many of those wounded in serious or critical condition.

The Houthis have signed an agreement to end the fighting, mediated by UN envoy Jamal Benomar. The accord stipulates the withdrawal of their forces from Sanaa once a new prime minister is named. But president Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi has so far failed to name the new premier.

In Syria, at least 39 people, 30 of whom were children between six and nine-years-old, were killed in twin bombings outside a primary school in the government-controlled city of Homs last week, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The blasts happened as the children were leaving the school, said an official from Homs.

The UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, condemned the bombings and called on all parties to the conflict to end such attacks and for perpetrators to be brought to justice.

According to Ms. Zerrougui’s office, attacks on schools and hospitals have become a feature of the Syrian conflict and deprive millions of children of their right to education and health.

Since 2011, over three million children have dropped out of school and thousands of schools inside Syria have closed their doors because they have been destroyed, damaged, or are now used for military purposes or as shelter for families forced to abandon their homes.

Also on Syria, an American-led intervention targeting the Islamic State was launched last month. Human Rights Watch reported a US missile strike that killed at least two men, two women, and five children, urging the US government to investigate the attack for possible violations of the laws of war.

Legal battle over the recruitment of children in the UK

The UK is one of just 19 countries in the world – and the only country in the European Union – that still recruits 16-year-olds into its armed forces. The others include Bangladesh, El Salvador, Iran, and North Korea.

Child Soldiers International (CSI) will call  for a judicial review into the terms of enlistment for minors joining the British Army.

Although minors have a right to be discharged before their 18th birthday, after this point the so-called “Catch-22” clause commits them to serve until they are at least 22 years old, regardless of their age when they joined. This means the youngest recruits have to serve for longest. Lawyers acting for CSI claim this constitutes unlawful age discrimination in employment conditions.

Call for perpetrators of grave crimes to be brought to justice

A group of human rights organisations* urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to send investigators to the Central African Republic (CAR), and called on the UN peacekeeping mission to help set up a special court in the country.

CAR’s President, Catherine Samba-Panza, officially asked the ICC in June to launch an investigation into crimes committed in her country since 2012.

In August, the UN and the CAR government signed a memorandum of understanding to create a Special Criminal Court (CCS) with both international and Central African judges. But the court can only be set up after CAR’s transitional parliament (CNT) passes a specific law.

CAR has been in a state of crisis since Seleka rebels seized power in 2013 in a campaign marked by widespread killing, looting and destruction. In mid-2013, groups of so-called ‘anti-balaka’ (anti-machete) organised to fight the Seleka, committing grave atrocities, with accounts of ethnic cleansing reported earlier this year.

The violence in CAR has forced about one million people to flee their homes. Most Muslims now live in Seleka-controlled areas in the north and east of the country, creating a de facto partition.

Elections meant to complete a return to democracy are due to be held in February. But amid continuing violence, officials in the country believe the polls will be delayed.

*The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Central African Human Rights League (LCDH) and Central African Human Rights Monitor (OCDH).

Unexploded ordnance kills two children in Ukraine

Two children were killed and five were injured in rebel-controlled eastern Ukraine last week when they tried to move an unexploded shell. The incident late Friday occurred in Zugres, a town about 30 kilometres east of Donetsk, the largest city controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

Children are particularly vulnerable to landmines, cluster munitions and unexploded ordnance in a number of ways. These devices sometimes look like toys and children are likely to pick them up out of curiosity. The Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor reports that since 2004 explosive munitions left behind during armed conflicts have been shown to consistently cause the greatest percentage of child casualties in 31 countries (64%) (See footnote no.5 for the list of countries).

Children attacked on all fronts in Afghanistan

The victims of the current Afghan conflict are primarily children. According to the UN Secretary General’s Report on Children and Armed Conflict, in 2013, more than 1,700 children were among the 3,000 civilian casualties- a 34 percent increase from 2012.

As reported by a spokesman for UNICEF in Afghanistan, the UN has documented 97 cases in which combatants recruited children, some as young as eight.

A report by Al Jazeera tells the story of Moheb, 12, who was forced to become a suicide bomber by his uncle, a Taliban commander. His uncle forced him to wear a suicide vest last year and instructed him on how to blow himself up next to a convoy of foreign troops. He was thrown out of his home when he failed to ‘accomplish’ his mission. He now lives in a government-run orphanage.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said that although officially there are no children in the Afghan army and police, they continue to be recruited by local authorities because of inappropriate recruitment mechanisms. Read the full story.

US military aid to governments using children as soldiers

The US passed a groundbreaking law in 2008 that prohibits the country from giving several forms of military assistance to governments using child soldiers. Its intention was to use a powerful incentive – withholding US military training, funding, and weapons – to influence governments to stop using children in their military forces.

The Obama administration identified nine countries this year where children are still recruited, but announced that only three would be barred from US military assistance. For the other six, Obama used his presidential authority to give partial or complete waivers.

Yemen, for instance, may receive $25 million in US military financing in 2015, with no strings attached. The country signed a UN agreement in May to end its use of child soldiers, but is a long way from eliminating the problem.

For Somalia, where the UN documented nearly 1,300 cases of child recruitment in 2013, including hundreds by the Somali National Army and its allied militias, the administration gave Somalia a full waiver as well, allowing it to receive  $115 million.

In an analysis of this year’s waiver of the law, Jo Becker, Children’s Rights Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch, notes that the administration’s actions should match the words of its ambassador to the UN pronounced in a meeting of the UN Security Council on children and armed conflict two weeks ago: “perpetrators have to be held accountable. Groups that fail to change their behavior must be hit where it hurts.”

Not a single child untouched by the recent Gaza conflict

According to Makarim Wibisono, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, there is not a single child who has not been adversely affected by the recent conflict in Gaza, where children suffer from bedwetting, difficulties sleeping, nightmares, a loss of appetite, and display more aggressive behaviour at school.

At the end of his first mission to the region, Wibisono expressed alarm at the terrible cost paid by Palestinian civilians, especially children in Gaza, as a result of Israel’s military operation that lasted 50 days in the summer of this year.

According to a press release on his findings, the latest round of violence from 7 July to 26 August 2014 has left 1,479 civilians dead, including 506 children. He added that 11,231 Palestinian civilians, including 3,436 children were injured, many of whom are now struggling with life-long disabilities. Tens of thousands of children live with the trauma of having witnessed the horrific killings of family members, friends, and neighbours before their own eyes.

“In the 50 days of relentless bombing and shelling, 228 schools in Gaza were damaged, including 26 destroyed or damaged beyond repair,”according to the press release.

Thousands killed in South Sudan

Thousands have been killed and nearly two million have fled their homes since the war broke out last December in South Sudan. Oxfam and other agencies have warned that an expected upsurge in violence could wipe out recent gains in food security and push the number of hungry people up by a million in the first three months of 2015.

Nearly 100,000 people are crammed into UN compounds across the country for their own protection, often in inhumane and unsanitary conditions.

At present, 5,660 children have been registered as missing in South Sudan and only 393 reunited with their families.

What began as a political power struggle last December quickly assumed an ethnic dimension, pitting President Salva Kiir’s Dinka tribe against militia forces from the former vice-president Riek Machar’s Nuer people.

Economic self-interest is also fuelling the conflict. A report last month by the Enough Project noted: “The country’s competing privileged elites are sacrificing their own people’s lives to secure the political and economic benefits – including massive state-corroding corruption – derived from control of the state.”

So  inequality between groups, tribes, political and religious affiliations, means that children, who are once again the ‘powerless’ have to suffer.

For Blog Action Day:

  • Follow the live coverage on October 16 and 17Visit our website or our Facebook page  and take a look at the  posts that grab your attention.
  • Search for #BAD2014,  #Inequality #BlogAction14 on social media and “Blog Action Day” on google to connect with other Blog Action Day participants.