Child Soldiers

Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002 01:12:12 -0500 (EST)

Dear All,

The information copied below asks you to call members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (or you could communicate with your Senators, asking them to relay the message to their colleagues on the Committee) to urge them to recommend to the Senate that it ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. The week of February 5-12 is national call-in week on child soldiers, but your call can be effective after this period. The dates appear to have been chosen because the Optional Protocol comes into effect today, February 12. (See So there is still time to call if you cannot do so today.
"I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children." This tragic image, from Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," captures the lives of some 300,000 children in the world today. Many of these child soldiers are forced into combat. Some are raped or made into sexual slaves. Children who are only beginning to learn how to live learn how to kill. In some conflicts, children have been forced to commit the most horrendous of acts. Children as young as 10 years old, already forced to join the rebel army in Sierra Leone, were further forced to torture, kill, and amputate people's limbs. (See H. Con. Res. 346, 106th Congress, 2nd session.) In Northern Uganda, children captured by a rebel group are forced to beat to death other children who try to escape. (See
The Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibits parties to the treaty from recruiting children less than 15-years-old for their armed forces. The Optional Protocol, which any country can ratify, raises the age limit to 18. Importantly, it also requires parties to cooperate "in the prevention of any activity contrary to the Protocol and in the rehabilitation and social reintegration of persons who are victims of acts contrary to this Protocol, including through technical cooperation and financial assistance." (
President Clinton signed the Optional Protocol in July 2000, the Bush Administration supports it, both houses of Congress have adopted resolutions supporting the Protocol, and the U.S. military has agreed to support the policy. (See, Now it is time for the Senate to turn this widespread agreement into action.
Besides spurring the U.S. military to change its own recruitment practices (but see, by ratifying the Protocol the United States will be able to credibly encourage other countries to ratify it. And as more countries ratify, the global norm against using child soldiers will strengthen. This will make it more difficult for countries, and possibly even rebel or other armed groups, to use child soldiers.
Also, the Protocol and the attention that comes with it may lead the United States and other countries to cooperate in trying to solve the problem of child soldiering even beyond their borders -- indeed, the Protocol requires this. If you communicate with your Senators or those on the Committee, encourage them to back increased U.S. support for programs that seek to prevent child recruitment and to rehabilitate and reintegrate into society child soldiers. (The House and Senate resolutions called for a law to establish a fund to rehabilitate and reintegrate child soldiers. See H. Con. Res. 348, 106th Congress, 2nd session.) You might also encourage your Senators to push for an end to military aid that supports governments or armed groups that use children as soldiers. (See
For more on child soldiers, see Also, please see below for members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and other information. Help take the guns and sharp swords out of the hands of young children, and replace them with books in children's hands, sharp minds, and peace and love in their hearts. Thank you for your time.



"I have only dreams: to build a better world, a world of harmony and understanding, a world in which it is a joy to live. This is not asking for too much." -- Yitzhak Rabin

"Don't say the day will come. Bring the day! Because it's not a dream." -- Shir LaShalom, Song for Peace

---------- Forwarded message ----------

National Call-In Week on Child Soldiers
February 5-12, 2002

Your messages are needed now! From February 5-12, please phone, fax or e-mail members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Help support the U.S. Campaign to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers! We ask advocates nationwide to contact members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urging them to support U.S. ratification of the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

This international treaty prohibits the forced recruitment or conscription of children under the age of 18, or their participation in armed conflict. The protocol has been signed by over 90 countries and ratified by 12. The United States has signed the protocol, and both the Bush Administration and nearly all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee support it. However, the U.S. has not yet ratified it.

Please contact members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on National Call-In Week on Child Soldiers. This is the committee that will recommend or not recommend ratification of the treaty.

Sample message: I'm calling to urge the Senator to support ratification of the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict. The protocol will help stop the use of child soldiers around the world. Please make U.S. ratification a top priority for this session of Congress.


Joseph Biden, Del., chairman
Paul Sarbanes, Maryland
Chris Dodd, Connecticut
John Kerry, Massachusetts
Russell Feingold, Wisconsin
Paul Wellstone, Minnesota
Barbara Boxer, California
Robert Torricelli, New Jersey
Bill Nelson, Florida
Jay Rockefeller, West Virginia
Jesse Helms, North Carolina, Ranking Minority Member
Richard G. Lugar, Indiana
Chuck Hagel, Nebraska
Gordon Smith, Oregon
Bill Frist, Tennessee
Lincoln D. Chafee, R.I.
George Allen, Virginia
Sam Brownback, Kansas
Mike Enzi, Wyoming
And your own senators! Capitol Switchboard, 202/224-3121.

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