Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | April 12, 2012

U.N. “naming and shaming” is not –at all — a strong enough consequence for the use of child soldiers.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, said that the “naming and shaming,” which the U.N. uses against groups which recruit child soldiers, is effective.

In 2001, the then-Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, recommended the creation of a list of parties recruiting and using children in armed conflict in his annual report.

Recently, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) of South Sudan renewed its commitment  to release all children within its ranks and to ensure that all militias being incorporated into the national army of the world’s newest nation are child-free. The Republic of South Sudan officially seceded from Sudan on July 9.

It seems SPLA is agreeing to this only because it wishes to have a political footing in an international arena. It wishes to be seen as an official state.

The FARC and the ELN are already on the “name and shame” list, and it has done nothing for Colombia’s children. In fact, the FARC once made a pledge to Mr. Otunnu, in which the FARC agreed to end recruitment of children below the age of 15.

During the era of President Andres Pastrana, when there were peace negotiations and the FARC wished to be seen as a political force, FARC Commander Mono Jojoy appeared, dressed in fatigues and with his characterizing beret, and told the residents of San Vicente del Caguan that their children would soon be home. Families waited, and no child was released. Mono Jojoy made the speech for the media.

The Security Council is moving toward arms and travel restrictions and financial sanctions against countries where children are still used as soldiers. But in cases like Colombia, that won’t make a difference either. It’s not the Colombian State who is accused of recruiting and using child soldiers (though the Armed Forces use children as spies and messengers).

The recent sentencing by the International Criminal Court of Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga for recruiting and using child soldiers will send a stronger message than a U.N. “name and shame” list.

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