If ever children needed their right to protection fulfilled it is during armed conflict situations, when they may be forcibly recruited as soldiers or see their homes and communities destroyed. But the world also needs to protect the millions of future children from the damage to their childhood that conflict inflicts; the only sure way of doing so is for the international community to take more urgent and serious steps towards preventing war and resolving existing conflicts.
If we are to safeguard children from the brutality of armed conflicts, a number of actions must be pursued, provided the international community has the political and economic will to implement them:
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- Put children first, before and during conflicts
- End the recruitment of child soldiers
- Strengthen the protective environment for children at every level, from the family right through to the level of national and international legislation
- Eradicate the culture of impunity and strengthen accountability
- Prevent conflict by addressing the underlying causes of violence and investing more resources in mediation and conflict resolution
- Make monitoring and reporting on child-rights violations in conflict zones a priority, including gathering reliable data on children who are actively involved in armed conflict and other war-affected children
- Expand demobilization and mine awareness campaigns
- Restart education for children caught up in armed conflict as soon as possible
- Enhance humanitarian agencies’ capacity to respond to conflicts through the development of early warning systems and better preparedness.
- Combat poverty and HIV/AIDS, which interact with conflict to magnify the negative impact on childhood