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International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers – February 12, 2023

We observe International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers on February 12. It is a day dedicated to stopping the use of children in armed conflict. The day is also known as Red Hand Day. The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child enacted the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict in 2002 in Geneva. Various children’s and human rights organizations use this day to draw the world’s attention to the issue of using children in armed conflicts. They use the red hand symbol for the campaign. We can join this humanitarian campaign by raising our voices against such unjust acts.

History of International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers

Armed conflicts are an integral part of human history. These conflicts helped shape our world as we know it today. However, these conflicts are always bloody and result in massive human casualties. A modern-day kid would be sick if he saw a real battlefield from the old days. But children were used in armies in the past. Children in war-torn regions do not have much to go for. Without a job or a family to look after, they are easy potential recruits. They do not need as much investment as adult soldiers do. Also, they are easy to manage, and most armies consider them expendable.

In the modern age, the situation for children is much better compared to how it was in the past. Now, there are international laws that restrict armies from recruiting children. But that does not stop every army out there. Some African and Asian national armies still operate with children in their ranks.

In February 2002, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict to supplement the Convention. It was added to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Several children and human rights organizations applauded the move and observed the first International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, celebrating the protocol. These N.G.O.s used the symbol of the red hand to observe the day, hence the name Red Hand Day, which is also popular.

International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers timeline

2700 B.C.
The Beginning of Organized Warfare

Organized warfare appears in history in Mesopotamia, with the first recorded war occurring between Sumer and Elam.

1212
The Children’s Crusade

The Children's Crusade recruits thousands of children all over Europe for a crusade into the Middle East in the name of religion.

1998 — 2000
The Ethiopian Two-Year Border War

Thousands of children fight on both sides of the two-year border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

2002
Red Hand Day

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, also known as the O.P.A.C. or the child soldier treaty, is added to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Children.

International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers FAQs

Who was the youngest child soldier?

Sidney Lewis is generally recognized as the youngest recorded soldier in a modern army. He was only 12 when he fought in the battle of Somme. There may be younger soldiers, but their identities are unknown as they are undisclosed by their military.

Do child soldiers still exist?

Yes, child soldiers still exist and operate all over the world. More than 7,000 children are recruited from all over the world for this purpose.

Why do countries have child soldiers?

Children are easy to manipulate into joining an armed force. They are mostly recruited from war-torn locations where there is little supervision of children and they have very little to do.

How to Observe International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers

  1. Spread awareness about the day

    Most people are unaware that children are forced by people or poverty to join the military. Spread awareness about the day within your locality and friend circle.

  2. Share the statistics about the use of child soldiers

    Create a detailed summary of nations and the number of child soldiers in their ranks. Publish this list on social media and share it with your friends.

  3. Raise funds for N.G.O.s

    Several N.G.O.s are working for the welfare of children all over the world. Use this day to raise funds for them as much as you can.

5 Facts About Child Soldiers That You Should Know

  1. Child soldiers in the world

    Thousands of child soldiers serve illegally in armed conflicts around the globe.

  2. The age of child soldiers

    Some reports show that some soldiers are just children under the age of 10.

  3. African child soldiers

    The U.N. reports that there are around 8,500 children used as soldiers in Africa.

  4. Death rate

    More than 2,670 children are killed all over the world in armed conflicts.

  5. Girl soldiers

    Between 10% and 30% of child soldiers are girls, and they are vulnerable to sexual violence.

Why International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers is Important

  1. It raises awareness

    This day helps to raise awareness about the use of children in armed conflicts around the world. It can help save many children who would otherwise be forced to work in the military.

  2. It decreases violence against children

    This day can help increase the public outcry against child soldiers. Governments all over the world will be forced to decrease the number of child soldiers if they receive sufficient backlash.

  3. It creates opportunities

    If children are forbidden from joining the military, they will have to find other means to survive. This day can help raise valuable funds to create opportunities for those children saved from armed conflict.

International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers dates

YearDateDay
2023February 12Sunday
2024February 12Monday
2025February 12Wednesday
2026February 12Thursday
2027February 12Friday

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