Children and armed violence

Although the majority of victims of small arms fire are adult males, the tremendous suffering of children has been acknowledged by UNICEF, major children's rights organisations such as Save the Children and the UN Secretary-General in his annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict.

Guns in the home can be accidentally fired by children, especially boys, playing with these deadly weapons. The presence of guns in the home can also traumatise children. Children are also affected by armed conflicts, which rarely distinguish between 'combatants' and 'non combatants'.

Guns have also created the phenomenon of the child soldier, "the most deadly combat system of the current epoch". The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict came into force in February 2002. It bans the direct use of all children under the age of 18 in hostilities and prohibits all military use of under-18s by non-governmental armed groups.

www.child-soldiers.org

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The Second Review Conference of the UN Programme of Action (PoA) to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, is due to run from 27th August to 7th September at UN Headquarters in New York.

More than a decade has passed since the adoption of the PoA in 2001, which has laid the foundation for action at the national, regional and global levels.

IANSA members in the DR Congo organised a wide range of activities. Association des Volontaires du Congo, ASVCO aired messages on the Global Week of Action on four radios stations, RTNC-Goma, RTCT, Radio Sauti ya INJILI and Radio RAU-FM. ASVCO and MONUSCO organised a march to help child survivors of the misuse of SALW talk about their cases and set up banners in school courtyards. AFIA-FEV, ADIFE Sud-Kivu and AVREO, the coalition of South-Kivu organisations, put banners on main streets and organised a workshop with political and military officials.

REPPACT (the Network for the Promotion of Peace and Citizenship), IANSA member in Chad, led awareness-raising activities with youth in schools. They highlighted the role of youth in peace-building and drew their attention to the need to regulate the trade and stop the illicit trafficking of small arms. Members have met local authorities and representatives of the Ministry of Security to emphasise the need for Chad to support a strong ATT in July, and to sign and ratify it once it has been negotiated.

Bethesaida, IANSA member in Rwanda, led a training workshop to discuss the means to reduce the misuse of SALW and organised debates with women in the area of Kigali. They are also working with pupils from the schools of the district to think about SALW and issues related to gun violence.

Rural Development and Youth Training Institute in India organised two rural youth rallies against gun violence. The rallies took place in the Mandar-Gar and Jaspura villages in the Kota District, Rajastha. About 175 rural youths, farmers, women, and girls and boys actively participated in the campaign. All the participants made a vow that they will not tolerate armed violence or the misuse of guns in their communities.

Latest resources

Instituto Sou da Paz, an IANSA member in Brazil, has launched a practical guide to children's disarmament.

The UN Secretary-General has released his annual report on ‘Children and Armed Conflict’ for 2010.

This document details children and adults killed in shcool shootings since 1996.