Chad Signs Plan to End Recruitment and Use of Children in National Army and Security Forces

AFRICA, 4 Jul 2011

Cassandra Clifford – Foreign Policy Association

Last week on 16 June 2011 the government of the African nation Chad signed an action plan to end recruitment and use of children in its national army and security forces.  In a press release issued by the United Nations Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.  The Secretary-General, Radhika Coomaraswamy, traveled to Chad to witness the signing of the plan.  The new action plan is an agreement with between the Chadian Government and the United Nations to end recruitment and use of child soldiers. The action plan spells out concrete steps, which when taken, will result in Chad being removed from the Secretary-General’s list of parties who recruit and use children.

The much needed and long over due agreement comes only one month after Chad was cited in the 11 May 2011 release in the Annual Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict, for their violations against children and the use of child soldiers.  Each year the report is published to lists those parties involved in the recruitment of children in armed conflict, as well and use, kill and maim or commit rape and other forms of sexual violence against children in conflict.  The report gives an overview of the situation of those children who are directly impacted by armed conflict and report on the actions by listed parties over the course of the previous year regarding their protection.

While the action plan to end the use of child soldiers in Chad is an historic and vital step, it is not the first the country has taken to end the recruitment of children in combat.  The government of Chad and the UN children’s agency signed an agreement 10 May 2007 that aimed to end the practice of minors being recruited into the country’s army. That agreement also followed an international backlash for their use of children in the military, as a week prior to the agreement UNICEF and Chadian officials that found nearly 400 child soldiers stationed at a training center in central Mongo.  In 2008 Waging Peace, a British NGO, issued a report stating that between 7,000 and 10,000 Darfurian children abducted from refugee camps in Chad were serving as child soldiers.  That report also came following an earlier report on the countcomes right after the earlier report that month on the Release of Child Soldiers in Chad which came following the Secretary Generals visit to detention and training centers, leading to an agreement to release all former child combatants held in detention.

The number of child soldiers in Chad remains unclear, however the 2008 Child Soldiers Global Report listed Chad as a key violator to both international law and the government’s own age of conscription.  There is an estimated 300,000 child soldiers are actively fighting in at least 30 countries around the world, 200,000 of which are in Africa, according to both Amnesty International and UNICEF.

The solution for the use of child soldiers in Chad will not come quickly or easily, however the new agreement and plan show a clear investment of the government to continue to work with the international community to find a sustainable solution to the problem.  There is a great deal of work to be done and a clear and devoted investment in the demobilization and disarmament of children must also be put into place for the plan to be effective.

Please also see my other posts on Child Soldiers.

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