Child troops still a problem

Published April 1, 2005

Speaking recently on conflict in Africa, the Archbishop of Canterbury called on the International Criminal Court to declare the use of child soldiers, like these two young Congolese Mai Mai, a war crime.

The international community must act with greater resolve in dealing with the problem of child soldiers, said Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

United Nations resolutions and pledges of responsibility by the International Criminal Court have been “sadly ineffectual,” said Archbishop Williams.

Speaking at a recent debate on conflict in Africa and on various UN reports, Archbishop Williams said that child soldiers, of whom there are about 300,000 in civil conflicts around the globe, “are frequently abducted, invariably brutalized, and abused in diverse ways.” They “present a uniquely serious challenge for the rehabilitative process within their societies,” yet are regarded as “dangerous and feral” because of their experiences.

But, reports the Church Times newspaper, Archbishop Williams said the international community had been unable to hold to account those who sign international agreements. Archbishop Williams argued that the availability of small or light arms was one of the factors that facilitated child soldiering.

He also called on the International Criminal Court to “envisage a clear and agreed declaration of the use of child soldiers as specifically a war crime.”


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