From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : CRC treaty
Mains level : Child rights abuse
The US has added Pakistan and 14 other countries to a Child Soldier Recruiter List that identifies foreign governments having government-supported armed groups that recruit or use child soldiers.
Who is a child soldier?
- The recruitment or use of children below the age of 15 as soldiers is prohibited by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
- Currently, 193 countries have ratified the CRC.
- The CRC requires state parties to “take all feasible measures” to ensure that children under 18 are not engaged in direct hostilities.
- It further prohibits the state parties from recruiting children under 15 into the armed forces.
- It is considered a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
- In addition, the Optional Protocol to the CRC further prohibits kids under the age 18 from being compulsorily recruited into state or non-state armed forces or directly engaging in hostilities.
- The United States is a party to the Optional Protocol.
What is US law?
- The US adopted the Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA) in 2008.
- The CSPA prohibits the US government from providing military assistance, including money, military education and training, or direct sales of military equipment, to alleged countries.
What is prohibited for countries on the list?
The following types of security assistance are prohibited for countries that are on the list:
- Licenses for direct commercial sales of military equipment
- Foreign military financing for the purchase of defence articles and services, as well as design and construction services
- International military education and training
- Excess defence articles
- Peacekeeping operations
Criticism of the treaty
- International treaties like CRS are valuable and necessary tools to establish international norms as they raise awareness regarding human rights abuses.
- However, these treaties are limited in scope and nature, and they tend to be idealistic rather than practicable.
- The UN’s mechanisms only bind state parties that ratify the treaties.
- It, therefore, has no authority over countries that are not parties to the convention or are non-state entities, such as rebel militias recruiting child soldiers.
- While the UN views its treaties and conventions as binding on state parties, it has no police power mechanism to enforce its decisions.
- Therefore, the CRC and its Optional Protocol are limited by the signatories’ willingness to comply. Somalia, for example, is a signatory but it hasn’t ratified the convention.