The Child Soldier: Our Writing
Giving Voice to Youth Affected by War


THE DEBATE: Argue For or Against the Motion That Children Should Not Participate in Armed Conflicts.
by Wilfred Mohamed Kuteh; Student of I*EARN Sierra Leone.

My chairman, members of the panel of judges, members of the panel of
critics, distiinguished guest, ladies and gentlemen, and fellow debaters, I
greet you all in the name of peace.

I am here this day, upon this podium to support the motion that there should
be a complete international ban on the use of children in armed conflicts.

War is everyday life for millions of children. Some have never known any
other life, they have grown up in the midst of civil wars, gorrila
insurgency, on long term occupation by foreign army. Many children see the
world suddenly turned upside-down when invasion, or ethnic cleansing forces
them on to the roads as refugees or displaced persons, often separated from
their families.More horrible is when this children are forced to take up
arms by rebels or enrol in government service merely to defend
themselves.Some whom become child soldiers are deliberately killed by security
forces or some other opposite groups. some mainly girls are singled out for
sexual abuse. Many are tortured or killed because of where they live or
because of the politics, religion or ethnic origin of their family.

Mr chairman, at this point, it necessary for me to state that children have
a right to live and to benefit for the basic needs of existence, eg,
adequate standard of living, shelter, nutrition, medical treatment, primary
health care, livelihood, security, protection from life-threatening violence
such as the 10 years war in Sierra Leone. How can children acquire this
survival right when they themselves are conscripted as child soldiers and
made to perform acts of violence? In fact the convention on the rights of
the child sounds contradictory to accept recruitment age of children between
15-18. In actual fact, if we say that children should not partake in armed
conflicts no laws of international significance must allow these children to
partake in any forms of war.

Another important point to note ladies and gentlemen is the right required
for children to reach their fullest potentials (education, play and leisure,
cultural activities), access to information and freedom thoughts, conscience
and religion, eta. Let me pose a question again; ladies and gentlemen how
can children acquire this developmental rights when in fact they are not sure
of how long they will live in that atmosphere of violence in which they are
strong partaker.

In short, the right of the child must be protected and safeguarded against
all forms of abuse, violence, neglect and exploitation in especially against
involvement in armed conflict, child labour, torture and drug abuse.

Children should not participate in armed conflict; for instance, adults
should allow children to take a positive active role in their communities
eg; freedom to express opinions; to have a say in matters affecting their
own lives, to join associations.

Finally, the child soldiers in particular and children in general suffer
from psychological disturbances, feeling of fears, and anxiety mistrust,
sadness that has long lasting effects.



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