12/03/2012 - In its response to the Kony 2012 campaign by Invisible Children, UNICEF has called on child soldier advocates to continue to fight for the rights of all children in every country.
Despite the fact that the viral Invisible Children campaign has informed millions of the situation that child soldiers in Uganda face, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has also released a video explaining how the situation goes far beyond the situation in Uganda.
The video by UNICEF explains that more than 250,000 children are forced into conflict in more than 20 different countries. However, CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF claimed that the figure does not account for the thousands of girls who are kidnapped by armed groups and held in sexual slavery.
UNICEF claimed that although the crimes of Kony are horrific, the global network of those who support it and enable child soldiers must be stopped as well.
Child rights advocates also want to emphasize the need for rehabilitation, prevention and that those who continue to fight for the rights of child soldiers should make sure that they learn all of the facts about the issue of child soldiers in order to make a meaningful difference.
According to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict , the protocol sets 18 as the minimum age for direct participation in hostilities, for recruitment into armed groups, and for compulsory recruitment by governments.
The Optional Protocol claims that states may accept volunteers from the age of 16 but must deposit a binding declaration at the time of ratification or accession, setting out their minimum voluntary recruitment age and outlining certain safeguards for such recruitment.
There are also claims that military recruitment is harmful not only for the children themselves, but also for society as a whole. Children who are recruited into armed groups lose years of schooling, and with proper rehabilitation children are at risk of growing up to become alienated adults and who are more prone to violence.