Topic Area:Strengthening actions to end the recruitment of child soldiers
Delegate Name:Theodora Daliska
The majority of wars today are intrastate conflicts fought with small arms. What is more disturbing is that many of those fighting are children, defined as individuals under the age of 18 according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Their role can vary from soldiers or fighters to spies, messengers or workers, even for sexual purposes. Girls are not excluded from this brutal phenomenon. They not only fight on the front lines but also provide domestic labor.
The Geneva Convention and the additional Protocol in 1977 prohibits the military recruitment use of children under the age of 15, which is now recognized as a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Court. Furthermore, OPAC (The Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict), the world’s first international Treaty focused on the military exploitation of children, which was adopted by the General Assembly in 2000, prohibits the conscription of children under 18, and their participation in every kind of hostilities. However, child soldiers are being used in at least 15 countries or territories, including some that have signed and ratified the Treaty. According to the “Child Soldiers Global Report 2008” (produced by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers), 21 countries or territories around the globe had children engaged in conflicts between 2004 and 2007. And the number is dramatically increasing. Today, there is an estimated 300.000 child soldiers in many countries around the world.
Romania is a country which has signed and ratified all UN treaties regarding the protection of the rights of the children, and has abolished conscription since 2007 during peacetime. That was based on law 395/2005 “regarding the suspension of conscription during peacetime and the transition to a voluntary military service”. However, conscription can be easily introduced in times of war or an emergency. According to Article 55 of the Romanian constitution, “citizens have the right and duty to defend Romania” and “may be conscripted from the age of 20 up to the age of 35”. According to the law, male citizen have the duty to report to the military services when they turn 18 in order to register in case of the reintroduction of conscription as outlined in Article 3 of the law. Male and female citizens can perform military service on a voluntary basis. The minimum age for voluntary military service is 18. However, young people between the ages of 15and 20 can, if they wish, volunteer for pre-military training, which aims to provide knowledge and orientation in the military and technical field. Military high schools are open to both male and female students.
Our laws prove that Romania’s policy on this stance is that there should be no children in armed conflict. The delegation of Romania stands against the recruitment of children as soldiers. To prevent children from being recruited, Romania suggests that the United Nations allocate money to create better educational programmes for the children in areas where child recruitment is occurring; there are not many educational opportunities in most of those areas. If the children who are possible recruits are educated, they have a better possibility for a stable future. If they do not have the possibility for a stable future they are more likely to willingly join military groups.
The delegation of Romania also recommends that the United Nations advocate for loosened refugee and immigration laws and regulations in developed countries so refugee children can find friendlier environments to live and grow up in. The easier it is for them to get into a safe country the more likely they are to live a normal life far away from conflicts and the danger of being recruited. This could lead to a less violent future for the youths who would otherwise be enlisted in a war.
For the children who join armed groups out of their will, however, a possible solution is to disarm them. The delegation of Romania’s solution is to send in UN military groups to help the children escape the war. If they escape war and violence then they can start the process of reintegration into society. Romania advises that the UN send medical personnel trained in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental disorders to help with the transition of the children from violence and war to normality. This is maybe the most crucial phase of helping those children.
Romania hopes that we can work jointly towards resolving the problem of child soldiers. We believe that all children should live and be educated in safe environments, and not be threatened with the risk of being sent into any armed forces. All children under the age of 18 should have the security to know that they can remain out of any war or armed conflict.