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The international community has been seized with the problem of child labour which

manifests itself in so many ways and one of them is by way of conscripting children into

national army or rebel resistance groups. South Sudan is no stranger to this worst form

of child labour and this is the focus of this essay. It looks at what efforts the South

Sudanese government is putting up in abating the problem of recruiting children into its

national army. With the help of authorities, it will begin by defining who a child soldier is

and delve into the real problem facing the South Sudanese government, thereafter it will

draw a conclusion.

A working definition o who a “child soldier” is, will help ground this discussion. Although

the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (hereinafter Optional

Protocol) frowns upon the compulsory recruitment of child soldiers, however, it does not

define who a child soldier is.1 Under current international law, a “child” is generally

defined as anyone under the prescribed age of eighteen.2 On the other hand, a term

“child soldier” encompasses more than machine-gun toting boys. Therefore, the concept

“child soldier” has also been used to include “any person under the age of eighteen who

is or has been associated with any kind of regular or irregular armed group, including

those who serve as porters, spies, cooks or messengers, and including girls recruited

for sexual purposes and many others.”3 A child soldier refers to a man below the age of

eighteen years old who has been enrolled by an outfitted group in any way.4

The international law forbids the recruitment of child soldiers. The Additional Protocols

to the 1949 Geneva Conventions prohibited the military recruitment and use of children

1 Article 2.
2 Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 1, 1989.
3 The Cape Town Principles Convention, 1997.
4 Paris Principles on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict 2007.

7 <https://www. In this regard.child-soldiers. The state bears the primary responsibility of providing security to and ensuring the protection of all children within her jurisdiction. 8 Section 25(2)(i) of The Child Act. The continued recruitment and use 5 Article 8 2b (xxvi). despite the numerous commitments to stop. Therefore. 1 . This treaty did raise the standard by prohibiting the conscription of children under the age of 18 and their participation in hostilities7. including the OPAC. the South Sudanese government scored in that by 2008 the government did make efforts towards the goal of ending the recruitment and conscription of child soldiers by enacting a piece of legislation setting a minimum age of 18 for any conscription or voluntary recruitment into armed forces or rebel groups. 2008 of the Laws of Southern Sudan. provide them with protection and reintegration support.under the age of 15. Under the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The state should also facilitate the release of those children already recruited.org/international-laws-and-child-rights> accessed: March 6. the state should take all the necessary legislative. Such measures include the ratification and implementation of all relevant legal instruments. 6 Article 3. be it in the government controlled armed forces or non-state armed groups. it is a crime to enrol children under the age of 15 as soldiers 5. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (hereinafter OPAC)6 is the world’s first international treaty wholly devoted to ending the military exploitation of children. administrative and judicial measures to prevent the recruitment of children into armed forces or groups. ensuring that all relevant international norms are adhered to and reflected in national law in line with international law.8 The South Sudanese armed forces and armed opposition groups continue to recruit child soldiers and force them into the conflict. 2018.

Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission in particular to keep the protection of children. some as young as 13.sudantribune. 2010. William Deng made the following remarks during the launch of a new child protection unit: By the end of 2010 the SPLA (South Sudan People’s Liberation Army) has committed to have demobilised all children from its ranks. In August 30. into their ranks since the warring parties signed the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) in August 2015. 2018. Human Rights Watch10 found that commanders from both government forces and rebel groups had been abducting. Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (SSDDRC). the South Sudanese government has been hesitant in implementing all these. the Chairperson of the Southern Sudan Disarmament. 10https://www. 2018.org/news/2015/12/14/south-sudan-terrifying-lives-child-soldiers accessed March 06.36125 accessed March 06. The South Sudanese government has continued to disregard international legal instruments and customary laws that govern the treatment of 9http://www.hrw. Pledging to end the recruiting of children into its national army.com/SPLA-to-demobilize-all-child. 2 . the future and hope of the country. and we give our full support to establish strong mechanisms for successful reintegration to civilian life for these children9. the Southern Sudanese government promised that it would demobilise all child soldiers from its ranks by the end of the year. Despite enacting laws forbidding the recruitment of child soldiers and signing various legal instruments. The Chairman further ascertained that the launch was another concrete sign of the commitment of the government of Southern Sudan in general and the Disarmament. detaining and forcing children.of children by the military and opposing armed groups point to the utter impunity that reigns in South Sudan.

tension and strife. Article 22. 182 (1999).children11. Article 2 of the ILO Convention No. Protocol II of the Geneva Convention (1977). He is a Congolese warlord who was convicted of war crimes of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 years and using them to participate actively in hostilities. Under the laws of war.pdf Accessed March 8. 14 The Prosecutor v Thomas Lubanga Dyilo ICC-01/04-01/06.org/esaro/UNICEF_South Sudan_Report_Childhood_under_Attack_15Dec_FINAL.2 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1990). the recruitment or use of children under the age of 15 by parties to a conflict is a war crime for which commanders can be held criminally responsible 13. 13 Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Article 38 of the CRC (1989) and Art 2 and 3 of its Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflicts (2000).000 children have been recruited and associated with armed groups in South Sudan.000 to 16.unicef. 12 www. Article 77 Protocol I of the Geneva Convention (1977). International human rights standards provide that no child under 18 should be recruited as a soldier. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)12 estimates that 15.3. This took place even when the African Charter on the rights and welfare of the Child15 is very categorical regarding child protection with regards to internal armed conflicts. 2018.c. Regardless of the fact that child soldiers have been used for decades in what is now South Sudan. The South Sudan government is winking at such atrocities by not having the commanders who are alleged to have recruited or used child soldiers in both the government and opposition forces to account for their actions as was done in the case of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo14. The government of South Sudan should therefore rely heavily on the African Charter and the CRC in meting out punitive 11 In particular. 15 Article 22 (3) 3 . Article 4. UNICEF reports that about 19. Human Rights Watch observes that no commander has ever faced any serious punishment for using child soldiers.000 children may have been used by the armed forces and groups in the conflict.

Reports show that recruitment and use affecting at least 1. Conventions have been enacted and protocols have been signed and ratified in regard to the protection of children. notwithstanding the numerous commitments to stop it. the government of South Sudan is not as eager to implement what is contained in these documents as it is in recruiting and conscripting children into her army. There are many legal standards in place to protect children from mistreatment yet the children continue to suffer. However.org. This crime should carry with it a stiffer penalty in order to deter would be perpetrators of child soldiers.measure on those violating international laws on the protection against the use of children in armed conflict. 4 . Retrived March 8.022 children is still going on and all this is attributed to SPLA and other government security forces 16. 2018. The problem of recruiting child soldiers in Southern Sudan is far from seceding though.un. “Report of the Secretary-General: Children and armed conflict. The South Sudanese armed forces and armed opposition groups continue to recruit child soldiers and force them into the conflict. 2017”. 16United Nations Secretary-General 2017. www.

Article 3. Article 22. 2008 of the Laws of Southern Sudan.2 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1990). The Cape Town Principles Convention. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of children in armed conflict. National Law The Child Act. The Paris Principles Convention on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. 2002. 182 (1999). 1949. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. 1997. BIBLIOGRAPHY International Law Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In particular. Article 22 (3).3. section 25(2)(i). 2007. Article 38 of the CRC (1989) and Art 2 and 3 of its Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflicts (2000). Protocol II of the Geneva Convention (1977). 5 . Article 8 2b (xxvi). 1989. Article 77 Protocol I of the Geneva Convention (1977). Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 1. Article 2. Article 4. Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions.c. Article 2 of the ILO Convention No. Regional Law The African Charter on the rights and welfare of the Child.

2018.com/SPLA-to-demobilize-all-child. www.sudantribune. 6 .36125> accessed March 06.child-soldiers. Accessed March 8. “Report of the Secretary-General: Children and armed conflict. 2018.org/international-laws-and-child-rights> accessed: March 6. 2018.org. <http://www. <https://www.un.Case Law The Prosecutor v Thomas Lubanga Dyilo ICC-01/04-01/06. 2018.hrw. United Nations Secretary-General 2017. Web Resources <https://www.org/news/2015/12/14/south-sudan-terrifying-lives-child-soldiers> accessed March 06. 2017”.