“The recruitment and use of children by armed forces and armed groups has been a focus of international attention and has been widely condemned, yet children continue to be involved in adult wars and to become disabled or die in such conflicts.”~ The Paris Principles
Following a comprehensive review of policies to prevent the recruitment of children into armed forces, there was wide recognition that a new set of guidelines needed for those implementing programmes to demobilize and reintegrate child soldiers into society.
These guidelines, known as the Paris Principles, were drafted at a conference in Paris in February 2007 that brought together brought together representatives of nearly 60 countries, many international organizations, including the United Nations, and representatives of civil society, in particular former child soldiers and NGO leaders active on the ground. However, it is important to note that these principles are not legally binding.
The Principles speak to the need for governments and agencies to include a multitude of stakeholders—beyond those directly involved in children’s welfare—when developing policies on child soldiers. By calling on the courts, military, economists, and children’s families and communities, the Principles reinforce the need to establish a more broad-based approach when addressing the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
Every society has a variety of stakeholders with different perspectives on an issue. These differing perspectives can result in a desire for different types of policies. You are now going to simulate—or act out—how governments develop a unified policy that addresses these different viewpoints.
Exploring a Perspective
Your teacher will assign you to different teams of policy makers: Children and Parents, Criminal Court Judges, Finance and Trade Advisors, Human Rights Activists, Mental Health Professionals, and Military Advisors. Each team will examine the issue of child soldiers from a different perspective and develop its own policy recommendations. The pages that follow provide background information and links to additional resources to help each team research the question from its unique perspective before developing its policy recommendations.
Presenting Your Conclusions
Once you have completed your research, write down your team's recommendations using the forms provided. Once your team has developed its recommendations, you will present it to the rest of the class in a Legislative Assembly. This means that you’ll have to decide as a team how you want to present your recommendations.
Following all the presentations, each team will have an opportunity to revise its recommendations before the class decides what the policy for the country you’re representing should be. At the end of this process you should have a better idea of what you think should be done about child soldiers.
Felicity O. Yost. Source:
Marie, In the Shadow of the Lion, by Jerry Piasecki. ©
United Nations, 2001