The advocacy team at War Child works to ensure that policymakers, both in the UK and globally, protect the rights of children in conflict and that those responsible for violating children’s rights are held to account.
We work closely with our colleagues in-country and partners to ensure challenges faced by children are well understood and addressed.
Child rights in conflict
Every year tens of thousands of children caught up in conflict experience “grave violations” of their rights. Boys and girls may be recruited and used by armed groups, killed and maimed, experience sexual violence and abduction, their schools and hospitals may be attacked, and they may be denied access to humanitarian relief. The thousands of children detained because of their association with armed groups - real or alleged – often suffer torture and other forms degrading treatment while in detention.
The UK and other powerful governments have a critical role to play in ensuring that children in conflict are protected and those that violate their rights are held accountable. For children to be better protected in conflict the UK must:
- Develop of a cross-governmental strategy on CAAC in consultation with civil society and other child rights experts.
- Consistently hold perpetrators of violations to account including through more public condemnation of such acts and imposing sanctions on individual perpetrators.
- Condition military and other security assistance on effective action by recipient states to address child rights violations.
Reintegration of children associated with armed forces or groups
In armed conflict children are sometimes recruited and used by armed forces or armed groups. They can be forced to join or join voluntarily. They may be used for fighting, as a servant or be sexually abused. The recruitment and use of a child is a grave violation of their rights.
War Child supports former child soldiers to reintegrate into their communities and find a path back to normality. We advocate to ensure that reintegration programmes are supported and barriers to reintegration are removed.
- The reintegration sector is hugely underfunded. Often funding is only available for short term programming which may end before the full impact is felt by the child. There is a desperate need for multi-year, predictable, sustained funding for children’s reintegration.
- Families and communities are first responders in emergencies. They are best placed to take care of children returning from armed forces and armed groups, and to promote their recovery. International NGOs and child protection actors must support children and communities to take a lead in designing and implementing the programmes that serve them.
- Children associated any armed groups, are victims of a grave violation of their rights and are entitled to protection, rehabilitation, and reintegration. However, children associated with extremist groups are often criminalised, detained, and mistreated. Governments must de-politicise and de-stigmatise children’s association with these groups to enable them to reintegrate and access services that they need.