Advocates for Child Soldiers

Friday, July 6, 2007

International Labor Organization (ILO)

In 1999 the International Labor Organization (ILO) was called upon to boost efforts to end children’s participation in armed conflicts around the world. The convention defines the recruitment of children for use in armed conflict as the worst form of child labor. Now ratified by 156 International Labor Organization (ILO) member states, the convention calls for the urgent elimination of these practices.

Child soldiers share many challenges with both adult combatants and non-combatant children. But they also face unique difficulties. These stem from the evolution of weapons and warfare; the breakdown of law and order in conflicts; intolerable levels of poverty, unemployment, inequality, and social exclusion; weak educational and training structures; rampant violence and abuse; and social pressures to engage in armed conflicts, other dangerous labor, or harmful activities like drug use.

ILO seeks to overcome these difficulties and promote the long-term reintegration of child soldiers. Methods used to reintegrate former child soldiers include vocational training, apprenticeship programs, family support, stipends, psycho-social counseling, detoxification, capacity building of local institutions, and partnership development. ILO recognizes the need to consult child soldiers themselves in planning and implementing projects. With girls also commonly involved in conflicts, either as combatants or victims of exploitation, gender dimensions of socio-economic reintegration are crucial.

ILO - Reintegrating Child Soldiers

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