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Child Soldier: The Dark Truth of Defense System


Child Soldier: The Dark Truth of Defense System



Childhood is the best part of someone’s life which can be enjoyed by them in his minority even after the person becomes adult they can cherish  the memories of their childhood. It is the most beautiful session of our life where we can enjoy every moment of our life by playing and  learning something either from school or parents . But what will happen if they are not able to enjoy their childhood by suffered from the poverty and forcibly recruited in the armed conflict , they will loose their most beautiful part of their life and will always seek for revenge for rest of their life . Mainly the family who are always suffering from poverty , discrimination and cannot give their children a proper education ,they send their children to earn money for the family and various group related to this armed conflict recruited these children in their group and never let them go back in their family . According to the Paris principle on children associated with Armed Forces or Armed groups ( February 2007 ) child soldier defines any person less than 18 years of age recruited or has been used as fighters , cooks , porters messengers , spies or for sexual purpose . Currently there are almost 250,000 child soldiers are recruited in the world in at least 20 countries.  So to  protect these children from being recruited in the Armed conflict several international conventions have been enforced like human rights ( United nation convention on child rights ), International humanitarian law and some special convention only for protection of children recruited in Armed conflict like the Paris principles and optional protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict , basically all these has been made to prevent children from the recruitment in the armed conflict. Author wants to highlight the issues regarding  the recruitment  of child soldiers , and prevent them to recruit in the armed conflict by several international conventions . She will also discuss the condition and recruitment procedure of child soldiers of countries like India , Pakistan and Syria .



When all the enemies had been lost in the battle and routed in the battlefield that night only the victors had started to celebrate the successful blooding of a promising new recruit , who will prove himself as a born fighter . He is a soldier now , can sleep with one eye open and knows eleven tricks to attack a town , and he also has the skill of throwing a grenade , even to load and fire an AK-47.  But the ugly twist of this story was that the recruit was no one else but a ten years old boy Emmanuel Jal , who was fighting in Sudan in the early 1990s. And now the number of being recruited as a child soldier is increasing day by day . Though we can see that the emergence of child soldier is not new but it was exist in this world during first world war and second world war .MomcloGarvic was joined in the 6th Artillery Division of the Serbian Army at the age of 8 during first world war and unfortunately died in Austro Hungarian troops in august 1914 During second world warGerman recruited children for Hitler jugend force but was not a standard practice . Even during the war between Nazi and Jews various armed groups were established and according to the study among one thousand Jewish soldier of the Lithuanian division of partisan forces more than one third of soldiers were between the age group of fifteen to 20 years old .Presently there are estimated between 250,000 to 300,000 children are involved in the armed conflict from the age of 10 years. Among  40 % of them are girls. They are mainly recruited by state or non state groups as soldiers. They are not only victim but at the same time they are perpetrators they often have to kill their friends and family members in order to make themselves violent . Child soldiers has to lead a very dangerous life . They are trained to kill someone, basically they can be recruited easily because they are obedient , not so much mature to judge something right or wrong and that is the reason they can easily be manipulated than adult soldiers . After being recruited in the armed conflict group most of the children has been suffered from a great psychological impact . The horrible experience of [i]battlefield and mental , physical abuse by the members of armed conflict has been resulted a major psychological disorder like post traumatic stress disorder , anxiety disorder and depression . According to cape town principles of 1997 any person who is under the age of 18 years has been recruited of any kind of regular or irregular armed group as a cook , messengers , porters , including girl for sexual purposes . The main reason of recruiting them are poverty and due to having the simplicity in their mind , they can easily be manipulated to learn something.


After being recruited in the armed conflict group they raised in the severe environment of violence , and experienced a traumatic stress and this lead to severe mental illness and by this often commit cruelties of the worst kind . These are basically known as post traumatic stress disorder . It happens when a person has lived through a traumatic event .

CASE STUDY  1:  A 13 year old boy at the time of therapy told that he had spent 3 years abduction with the LRA  in northern Uganda . He was born in 1994 in the village of Uganda . His mother was used to cook for him and his father  . At the age of 6 he had lost his mother by his father . Then at the age of 7 when he was started to going school . But at the age of 11 he was abducted and they forced him to kill his 3 uncles . After that they used to train him of being a soldier and beat him 100 strokes . After that he was forced to cut of hands of a hunter . Then he was joined in the big battle of UPDF where his friend was killed and then when he started to crying the  commander forced him to lie in his blood . Then at the age of 13 years he reached there after escaping from that armed group and he started his treatment .

CASE STUDY 2 : A 16 years old boy during the diagnostic period had shared his experienced that he spent 3 years as an active recruit and joined the Mai Mai , in north Kibhu . When he was out in the forest , could not feel anything and was drugged all the time . He used to get terrible nightmare .


These are another common psychological impact of child soldiering and scientifically related with post traumatic stress disorder. In northern UGANDA  moreover 52 % abducted children are suffered with depression symptoms and  34%  of children are risk of suicidal attempts  .


This post traumatic stress disorder is also significantly co-related to negative behaviour against own family . These are mainly expression of anger and self harm. Most of the children are showing their aggressiveness within his family .


Children are mainly recruited in the armed conflict group from the states of Chattisgarh , Jharkhand , Andhra Pradesh , Jammu and Kashmir , Manipur , Nagaland and Assam. From the month of March 2013 India are facing insurgency to an extent . Armed forces special powers Act  , 1958 has officially designated as disturbed 197 districts among 640 districts . Government of India has banned 35 armed opposition group as terrorist organisation under the unlawful activities ( prevention ) Act , 1967. In India children are recruited in the armed conflict group in an excessive amount . Almost about hundred of children are actively participated in the battlefield. After being signed the optional protocol on the involvement of children in Armed conflict on 5th November 2004 Government and armed opposition group recruited children including even combat purposes . But India has also ratified this protocol on 30, November , 2005 .

RECRUITMENT OF CHILD SOLDIERS BY THE ARMED OPPOSITION GROUP : Presently there are almost about 5000 child soldiers are involved in the armed conflict group among them about 1000 are from the North East India and Jammu Kashmir and rest 4000 are from areas effected by left wing extremism. Almost about 1,695 members of armed opposition groups has been surrendered before India’s then Home minister P.Chidambaram and Assam minister TarunGagoi  in Assam on 24th Jan 2012 . These 1,695 children has been distributed among many groups like Birsa Commando Force ,Adivasi Cobra Military of Assam , Adivasi People’s Army , All Adivasi National Liberation Army and so on . They are either recruited below the age of 18 years or turned into 18 years after being recruited .


These boy were left their house on 7th April at morning and thereafter went missing. They were kidnapped by some suspected people who are the members of an underground group in Manipur . Their parents has lodged a missing diary but till now they police could not recovered them.

CASE 2 : RECRUITMENT OF ABRAHAM JOHNSON ( 16 YEARS ) : This boy was also from Manipur who handed over to an armed group for training . He was woken up by YumnamKanahi at early in the morning of 8th April and left in a few seconds , but in the meantime Abraham left that place and never returned . After that Kanahi was questioned by his parents then as a result he repeatedly force his parents to hand over the boy and also give a threat to not inform police and press . But eventually the boy was caught by them and took him to a far place . But one day police arrested three suspected members of the People’s revolutionary Party but was unable to tress the boy.


States like Andhra Pradesh , Bihar , Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand , Madhya Pradesh , Odisha ,West Bengal are identified for the Naxaleffected area and involved in recruitment of high number of children in their group . These Naxal includes maoist which recruit childrenforcibly  fromeach Adivasi family of that area in their Children’s wing and BalSangathan . If in the Adivasi family there is no male member they force to involve female their group and families which does not allow their children to go has to face a severe consequence . It has been reported that in their group children of different age group has different role like children having the age between six to twelve has trained and assigned initially for spies and couriers and then they are started to train them for basic drilling and armed with 303 rifles . And above 12 years are recruited as fighters .

CASE 1 : CAPTURE OF CHILD SOLDIERS IN CHHATISGARH : Children are forcibly recruited by Naxalites in the forests of Abujhmarh in Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra border . On 12th December 2012 police destroyed the Naxal camp of that forest and arrested nine of them . Most of the members of that group arrested are below 15 year old and send to juvenile detention . But a 16 year boy ChaituramNareti has manage to escape from the police who was under training with Naxals. He told that he was not in the camp when police raid happened . There were another to children in that group aged between eight years to ten years are part of the training group but failed to describe that for which purpose they are trained about .

CASE 2 :SURRENDER OF FIVE GIRLS : On 06th Jan , 2011 five girls had been surrendered themselves before top police officials . They are allegedly recruited and worked as an active member of Naxal group since the year 2008 and they all are aged between 14 years to 17 years . Ms Shanti Roy one of the member of that group who surrendered told that she was recruited at the age of 12 years in the year of 2012 . She was trained for active participation the battlefield therefore she knows to hold gun and attack places . She was participated in the attacks of Bansapal ,Pallaspal and Telkoi attack etc.

CHILD SOLDIER IN PAKISTHAN :Pakisthan is known for the highly effected country due to the political instability which resulted in armed conflict and thousands of children are being recruited in the armed conflict group. Pakisthan has faced several obstacles to work with the group of children affected in the armed conflict to address the children recruited in the armed conflict and protect them and give a normal livelihood like other children .Like :

  1. The workable definition of conflict is not an easy task ,because during the period of 1980s the outbreak of violence were more prevalent that in present era . But still now the range and variety of political instability and violence are highly existed which includes from the international dispute with India which are known to everyone to local level among religious or ethnic lines .
  2. It is very difficult to get report about the sensitive areas in Pakisthan ,members of human rights group and press face huge problem due to the political instability . So to solve this problem several NGOs are taking jeopardy to tackle an issue such as children affected in armed conflict . This is a free and open climate to discuss about the causes of armed conflict in Pakisthan and its impact on children which does not appear to exist .
  3. It is extremely difficult to get accesses over the conflict affected areas like the

federally administered tribal areas (FATA) and Azad Kashmir . It requires a long and careful negotiation to travel over these area which curtails the possibilities of investigation.


After having all these difficulties CAAC  is very strong regarding the issue of child protection in Pakisthan.


Being a signatory with the CRC  Pakisthan Government has accepted a mandate global accountability for welfare of not only those children who are affected in the conflict but also whosoever are the victims in other field having existed throughout the country.

Pakisthan is also one of the country in the world which having the longest running unresolved armed conflicts. Since the year of 1947 pakisthan have the border dispute with India not only that pakisthan have dispute with Israel and Northern Ireland at same time but children are the most sufferer of these battle many of them have seen their earth from the battlefield and have grown up in that place only which means they did know even the other scene of this earth , does not even lead a normal lifestyle like other children. For them this is the normal lifestyle anyone can have .

INTERNAL INSTABILITY IN PAKISTHAN : From the very beginning of its independence Pakisthan having the three colonial legacies which undermine political stability.The status of Kashmir was disturbed ,ill defined and also there are tension over its alignment at partition which led to the war between India and Pakisthan. The territorial arrangement are also very weak in Pakisthan . It has an area in its inheritance that included regions like federally administered tribal area which has a very weak relationship with the state . And last but not the least the constitution and the political scenario of the country is extremely weak . Though there was only one political institution called Pakisthan Muslim league in throughout the country till the year of 1956 which had disintegration and it also had set a tradition of executive dissolution of both provincial and national governments . These are the major reason which already put a question mark on Pakisthan democracy and its security and these are the also main reason for the increasing rate of armed conflict in Pakisthan and involvement of children in the armed conflict group in Pakisthan.


Political stability is one of the major reason for any countries overall development . It can give birth a new society and can even destroy it . It can destroy the whole democratic system of a country. Likewise we have seen already how much politically instable Pakisthan is which already destroy the societal condition the country .Almost every family had lost their life due to regular armed conflict and also suffered from economic consequences . They lost their properties which might be destroyed due to attack and has to replace it . Most of the cases if any member of any family is in detention by the security forces might also face a huge cost of legal charges . If any woman has lost her husband due to the violence and they has to suffer social isolation for that . Families and children has also being displaced and moved to other places in the time of rioting or violence . These situation has a greater impact in any child’s lifestyle . Its leads to forcibly  join them in the group of armed conflict which has a major impact on their physical as well mental health. From the year of 1997 until now many children has been killed , missing and presumed kidnapped due to the local disputes and most of them were under the age of 18 years and girls have suffered from sexual exploitation and rape . Studies showed that widows forcibly bring her daughter at her lower age and force to marry them .

It is very horrifying incident that children who is going ‘madrasa’ for study , these madrasa are privately funded educational establishment often with a strongly political and secretariat basis . They trained children jihadi violence , military training , use of weapons and insurgency tactics which seems like itself a military training camp. Now by the suggestion of the NGO Spark most the children are being arrested whosoever was joined under the age of 18 years . But according to me the person who is behind their recruitment or joining in that group also must be arrested .

CHILDREN AFFECTED BY ARMED CONFLICT IN SIRIYA :A high school boy was found to drove a car carrying with 280 kilograms of explosives into the 50 South Lebanon base and killed almost 20 Israeli and Lebanese forces on 27th November 1985, during Syria’s military occupation of Lebanon. Hramida al-Taher who carried out suicide attack was a Syrian from the city of Raqqa and a member of the Ba’ath vanguards , the youth wing of Syria’s ruling party.  According to the last report of 2018 , the number of attacks and recruitment of children by the armed conflict group has increased .

RECRUITEMENT  OF CHILD SOLDIER IN SIRIYA : Children whosoever staying in ISIS territory in Syria lives a very stressful life . They growing up by witnessing the air strikes , bombings or other forms of violence . Some of even are victim of that violence . Gradually they become accustomed of that and  have started to participating in violence . According to the United Nation Secretary general’s annual report 2017 almost 851 children has been recruited in the armed conflict group in Syria in 2016 which is more than double number of recruit in 2015 .


Mainly those children who are living in single family , having less adult supervision or neglected parents and also even victim of domestic abuse in home are the main target  of ISIS .This was the incident of the year of 2017 .

According to an interview with the mother of a12 years old boy who was recruited by ISIS by applying their strategic significance of mosque to select him :

The boy was a frequent visitor of a local mosque . There he used to listen speeches given by a preacher by the alias Abu Al Faruq and then gradually the boy become close to that person.

Basically the recruiter worked hard to gain the trust of children . They has the ability to build up a close relationship with a child who have the potential of work as a soldier  and the story behind creating the close relationship and potentiality of work are coming from their family who supporting the terrorist group, They even buy foods and gifts for the children to gain their trust and  attending school , mosque. Media also plays a good role here to recruit them and families who does not shows their willingness they are subjected to coercion .

According to the interview of 23rd May , 2017 Tamir’s father stated that Tamir has started to take mill from Abu Umar and often came back with toys thus gradually build a close relationship between Tamir and Abu Umar the recruiter .


The evolution of International law has addressed the issue of child soldier and trying its best to protect children from the violence of armed conflict , but as per our recent study it clearly says that international law is still very feeble in nature  to fulfil its dream .


There is a plethora of international legal instruments designed to prevent children’s involvement in armed conflict . The development of legal responses to the platform of child soldiering has been generated within two domains of international law : international humanitarian law and the international law on human rights .According to Art 3 of the Geneva Convention it has been accepted as lingua franca for international and non international armed conflict . Though the Article extends a certain minimum of humanitarian protection to non – combatants and to the sick and wounded in both international and non international armed conflict , it does not precisely address the issue of child soldiering . According the Art 77 (2) of protocol 1 children having the age of fifteen years shall not take direct part in hostilities and shall be refrain from recruiting in the armed conflict but who attained the age of fifteen years but not in eighteen years parties shall choose to them who are oldest .


The concept human rights is difficult to define but impossible to ignore . It has the origin in this beautiful earth from when the human being has came into existence .From that time only people has struggled for their freedom and existence which are the basic right of a person after his coming to this earth . After by passing of years the scope of human rights has widen enough  , which includes equality and dignity irrespective of their birth , sex , class , caste , race and creed . If we look into the nature of human rights , then it is :


2.Human rights are essential and necessary

3.Human rights are irrevocable

  1. These are universal
  2. These have the connection with human dignity .

Later on some major universal human rights enforcement mechanisms has been declared by the United Nation General Assembly by way of some conventions to enforce the human rights equally in everyone’s life . These conventions are precious for any state who are signatories to them if they follow it properly . State also have the obligations to follow these conventions . So likewise there are several conventions for children to protect their rights and also protect them from their involvement in the armed conflict which is the main point of discussions of this article . Those are :Convention on Child Rights( CRC), Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflicts ( OPAC), The Paris Principles ( principles and guidelines on children associated with armed forces or armed groups ).



This convention has been adopted by UN General Assembly in the year of 1989 and  into came force in on 1990 . It protects the rights of a children like , it is prevented a children from their marriage below 18 years old , from recruiting them in a armed conflict group below the age of 18 years and it also protects children from being recruited themselves as a child labour . there are many more like

  • Children has the right to life and maximum survival and development
  • Children has the right to registrar his birth with his name , nationality and also know and be care for and by his parents .
  • Children also has the right to get protection against violence and abuse .

That is how children are protected under this convention to prevent from recruiting under any armed conflict group .

OPTIONAL PROTOCOL TO THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD ON THE INVOLVEMENT OF CHILDREN IN ARMED CONFLICTS : (OPAC) : This convention has prevent to all its states parties from recruiting children below the age of 18 years into the armed conflict group . It also direct to all its state parties to increase the age limit for voluntary recruitment of children in the armed conflict group which shall abide by their legal guardian and must be genuinely voluntary .

PARIS PRINCIPLES ( THE PRINCIPLES AND GUIDELINES ON CHILDREN ASSOCIATED WITH ARMED FORCES OR ARMED GROUPS ) :  More than thousands of children are recruited in the armed conflict group around the world even after the enactment of the OPAC and CRC . In other words we can say that they failed to fulfilling their dream of prevention of recruitment of children in the armed conflict group .This convention is the aftermath of the global review of the cape town principles on practices of forcible  recruitment of the child soldier  in Africa which was initiated by UNICEF . This principle not only defines the age limit of the recruitment but also discuss about the justice of accused which means that person who are suspected of committing against children shall receive particular attention in post conflict or transitional justice mechanisms . And also speaks about the children who commits crime after being recruited in the armed conflict group . It says that children who commits crime after being recruited in the group should be treated as victim not only accused . They must be treated under the international law with a framework of restorative justice and social rehabilitation . They must not be punished with capital punishment and life imprisonment after being accused of a crime under any law unless they are under the age of 18 years . They also have right to release under due procedure of international law and prescribed under this principle if they have been recruited unlawfully .


People cannot enjoy their life if they does not have childhood . It is the mirror by which people can determine that how beautiful their future will be .So it is necessary to protect their childhood as well filled up that canvas with love , care and affection . Person who does not able to do that due to poverty , torture or any other reason that leads to severe injury towards their future . The incident of child soldering is one of them .Children are only recruited in the armed conflict group because of their poverty and for the lack of family attention .Other  reason is they can serve their life easily for that group due to their age and energy . Those innocent minds can easily be manipulated . Long experience of battlefield and excessive  physical torture adversely effects on their mind which leads to various psychological issues . As per present study we can say that India is in the better position to release children from the armed conflict due to legal and societal cause . But it has not stopped due to the failure of the of international laws and lack of proper regional laws .Pakisthan has the worst scenario due to internal instability and violence there is no proper report regarding the statistics of child solder having over there and about their lifestyle .Pakisthan must work on their political violence and try to stabilise their internal instability .Even in Syria due to internal instability and for some family who support the recruitment of children in the armed conflict and due to the lack of implementation of the international laws several armed group has been established in Syria like ZARQAWI CUBS  which recruit children between the age group of 5 to 15 years . In 2016 the culture of recruitment of the children as a soldier has spread in the areas which are controlled by armed groups .  So places like this which controlled by armed group  must not be there in any country . India , Syria , Pakisthan all of them has ratified the  Convention on child rights . On the other hand India and Pakisthan ratified the optional protocol to the convention on the rights of the child on the involvement of children in armed conflict while Syria has accessed it but they are not the member of the Paris Principle . Paris principle is much more effective than the OPAC and CRC  as it discussed before which also  expressly speaks about the justice of the accused . We must take care about the implementation of the laws rather to enact new laws . The culture of recruiting children in the armed group is the problem of our world which spreads gradually .There must be a pledge of‘ STOP CHILD SOLDIER’ which will unite us  to resolve this issue .

RECOMMANDATION : After analysing the condition of children in  armed conflict group  author would like to recommend some measure which will according to country wise as per their societal condition.


INDIA : In India to prevent the recruitment of children as a soldier there must be a legislation called Children Affected By Armed Conflict ( Prevention and Protection ) Act for criminalising the concept of Child Soldier . It will keep a surveillance by its children affected by armed conflict ( CAAC) committee in the armed conflict group that if there is any person below the age of eighteen years has been recruited or not . If there is any recruitment of   person below the eighteen years that group will be punishable by the demolition of that group . It means there will be no existence of that group and members of that group will be punishable with the rigorous  imprisonment of the 10 years with the fine of rupees 40000 .


PAKISTHAN :It is almost impossible to know about correct statistic of the recruited child in the armed conflict group due to their internal  instability and political violence . The birth of child soldier is routed in the madrassa where a child used to go for studies , but unfortunately they  get the training of violence by the members of armed conflict group to recruit them. So Pakisthan Government must ensure that they will stabilise the political and social condition of the country and they will also monitor the madrassa on a daily basis to uproot the cause of child soldiering . Every member  of madrasa  who are involved in recruiting must be penalise and those armed group who are recruiting and gives the training that must be demolish .


SYRIA :The condition of Syria is also worst for living . The ISIS  area always ready with their wicked trap to recruit child in their group. So that group must be demolish and members of that group must be penalise . The Government of Syria must ensure to bring the stability in the country and stop the political violence . Families who are in favour of this worst politics  exists behind the recruitment of a child must also be penalise but at first they must be given the opportunity of being heard followed by principle of natural justice  about the reason behind the recruitment of their child in the armed group.


No laws can prevent any offences unless and until those laws are properly implemented and every citizen of existing state parties has the responsibility of following those law . So we must keep in mind that  children are the blessings of God , they came to this earth for play and build their future but not for violence  and its our responsibility to protect them  from any sought of violence having in this earth .



[i] Prof.(DR.) A.B . Siddiqui , international journal of advanced  research in management and social science , IJARMSS, April 2015


Child recruitment and use United Nations Office of the special representative ,, last visited on 5/5/2020 at 8:08 AM


Child soldiers their world, last visited on 5/4/20 at 8:21 AM .


India’s child soldiers : Asian Centre for Human rights


Children Affected by armed conflict in Pakistan by Dr. Jo de Berry


ISIS Child soldiers in Syria : The structural and predatory recruitment , enlistment , pre-training indoctrination , training and deployment by ICCT .


Child Soldiers : Alternative report to the committee on the rights of the child : Syrian Arab Republic.


Prohibiting the use of child soldiers: contested norm in contemporary human rights discourse.


The psychological impact of child soldering


The psychological consequences of becoming a child soldiers : post traumatic stress disorder , major depression and other forms of impairment


The Paris principles : The principles and guidelines on children associated with armed forces or armed groups ( February 2007)


Optional Protocol to the convention on the rights of the child on the involvement of children in armed conflicts ( 12th February 2002)


The Cape Town Principles : 1997


Why use children in war : 2018 the state university of new York press , Albany


Boy soldiers : using children in warfare is not a modern phenomenon


History of children in the military : Wikipedia





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