Children of War – Position Statement

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Cause the immediate cessation of all forms of violence against children, including the recruitment by non-State Armed Groups and abduction of children in Human Trafficking.

The Dhanji Foundation (Paramos Fondas) and the Institute of International Relations (hereinafter referred to as “InF”) have jointly undertaken an information, awareness and advocacy campaign on critical HUMAN Interest issues that are of Global Concerns with Local Impact.

The campaign includes Forums that identify the Human Interest under critical and imminent adverse impact and suggest actionable measures to prevent and end violations committed, to service needs of the victims and to assist where possible the accountability of persons responsible.

All countries today are bearing the burden of causation or relief of a growing displaced population.  By the end of 2014 the UN reported approximately 52 million persons displaced, 50% of which are children. Estimated 1.5 million have been added to this number based exclusively on the Ukraine situation. Countries not sharing borders with regions in conflict are nonetheless impacted by refugee resettlement, and human trafficking criminality and interdiction (including localized and effective impact on Lithuania). The target issue has far reaching implications to local communities in aspects of social welfare and security.

Specific to this Interest are children victims of Non-State Armed Groups (NSAG)

NSAG represent a large variety of different groups and structures, that react differently to each incentive or sanction.     Our FORUM is supported by verified and credible sourced information from on the ground dedicated intelligence sources, United Nations, Eurostat, and other such similar agencies.  Forums disseminate information, awareness and advocacy through documentary films, and qualified, credible speakers on the target topic.

On April 17th, 2015, the InF in Vilnius Lithuania with joint collaboration with local sponsors organized an information and advocacy forum on the topic ”Children of War”. This was the inaugural launch of the InF FORUM.  InF intends to deploy 6 FORUMs annually.  Each FORUM topic will launch in Vilnius, Lithuania and be replicated in other countries as InF representation in other countries materializes.  (InF is targeting representation in 2015 for Latvia, India, Kosovo, Egypt and Ukraine)   InF will seek to create representation in these countries predicated on existing expressions of interest by persons of standing within their respective communities.  InF will accordingly appoint such person as our Ambassador for the development of local efforts through FORUMs that will lend to our overall support system.


Protect children from recruitment & service as soldiers, or displaced by Armed Conflict.

  • To influence policy and political decision making to include grassroots campaigns
  • To engage with NSAGs in dialog to secure the objectives of our mission

Despite the existence of protective standards under internationally promulgated conventions and laws, violations of a heinous nature against children continue to be committed, in particular by NSAGs which are often difficult to approach because of political or security and therefore in certain instances may not always be aware of violations of International Law and Humanitarian Laws.

Although there is a role for serval identifiable stakeholders (Government, Quasi-Government and NGOs) to engage in the overall mission to protect children from recruitment as soldiers, InF will with particular specificity engage actively within the following scopes of services and operations:

 

Outreach and Advocacy

  • Information and Awareness campaign to include NSAGs
  • Develop campaigns at schools and media tools, and to reach out to all children, in particular in less developed, rural and isolated areas, who might be affected by or get involved in NSAGs.
  • Interact with local community, civil society and religious leaders to advocate against child recruitment.
  • Enhance, support and implement disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes for children formerly associated with armed forces and groups, with dedicated attention and resources to the special needs of girls.
  • Establish Dialog with NSAGs with non-contentious party(ies) in order to remove or mitigate the threat to children within the NSAGs scope and geography of operation and in doing so to commit to international standards and principles with regard to the protection of the child (including the Paris Principle)
  • Work with government to strengthen national legal systems through appropriate capacity and resources, including the development of legislation criminalizing violations against children, and building transparent institutional investigative and prosecutorial capabilities to fight impunity of suspected perpetrators of violations against children such as the recruitment or use of children by NSAGs;
  • Promote alternatives to detention if/when a child is found criminally responsible in accordance with the law;
  • Identify and address the root causes (social, economic, ethnic, religious) that facilitate the recruitment or use of children by NSAGs through broad and diversified forms of actions;

 

Rehabilitation and Re-Integration

  • Rehabilitate and reintegrate children economically, socially and culturally in the society and provide durable socio-economic alternatives in order to avoid their re-recruitment by the same or other groups;
  • Sensitize  all actors, in particular communities, on the phenomenon of stigmatization that child soldiers are often exposed to, in order to facilitate more successful reintegration of children who have actively participated in armed conflict.
  • Provide ongoing psychological care and counselling in reintegration processing.
  • Cooperate with religious leaders to avoid and counter radicalization, manipulation and recruitment of children by extremist NSAGs.
  • Develop effective counter strategies to address the use of social media and online child recruitment by extremist groups and NSAGs.
  • Avoid the detention of children associated with extremist or terrorist NSAGs in the fight against extremism,  and consider children primarily as victims.
  • Establish standard operating procedures for the treatment, transfer and reintegration of  children suspected or found to be associated with extremist, terrorist or NSAGs;

 

Education and Health

  • Provide the adequate medical, psycho-social and reintegration programmes and services to children survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
  • Provide full and detail attentive care to the suffering of children who have been victims of violations, particularly girls, so as to provide adequate support to help them overcome the trauma and experience.
  • Dialog, Mediation & Peace Agreements
  • Provide Conflict Prevention and Resolution services with a clear mandate that the process is set to protect children from adverse effect.
  • Recommend draft language in Mediation Agreements that systematically are included  for child protection, including those relating to the release and reintegration of children, in all peace negotiations and agreements;
  • To campaign for the unconditional release of children as soldiers or in support of combatant roles by NSAGs
  • To work in cooperation with government when encouraging NSAGs to engage in protecting children in armed conflicts;
  • Training of government and  military personnel in the engagement of and with children under the accepted provisions of the Laws of Armed Conflict., Rules of Engagement and operating procedures;
  • To build relationships with local, religious and community leaders, to enhance confidence; facilitate access to NSAGs; and preventing child recruitment, indoctrination and facilitate reintegration;
  • Publically list NSAGs that attempt to justify the use of child soldiers in the pursuit of ideological goals are condemned;
  • Engage with governments and official authorities to end hostilities and release all children from their ranks;
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