The report “Louder than words: An agenda for action to end state use of child soldiers” was published to mark the tenth anniversary year of the entry into force of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. It examines the record of states in protecting children from use in hostilities by their own forces and by state-allied armed groups. The “10-Point Checklist” is intended to assist states and other stakeholders in assessing risk and identifying the legal and practical measures needed to end child soldier use by government forces and state-allied armed groups.
We are Child Soldiers International
Child Soldiers International is an international human rights research and advocacy organisation. We seek to end the military recruitment and the use in hostilities, in any capacity, of any person under the age of 18 by state armed forces or non-state armed groups. We advocate for the release of unlawfully recruited children, promote their successful reintegration into civilian life, and call for accountability for those who unlawfully recruit or use them.
Read more about us.
Introducing our work
We work to end the military recruitment of under-18s globally and to prevent their use in armed conflict wherever it occurs. We do this through global monitoring, in-depth work on selected countries, and research and analysis on key thematic issues relating to child soldiers. Find out more about our work (and how we seek to influence and create change at the national and international level).
Work by Theme
State armed forces
We seek to end the involvement of girls and boys in hostilities in any capacity in state armed forces and in armed groups which are allied to states. We work both in situations where children are currently involved in armed conflicts and where they could be at risk of future use because of lack of legal or practical safeguards to protect them.
We campaign for the establishment in law of a minimum age of recruitment (conscription and enlistment) of 18 years by armed forces globally. We believe that a universal ban on recruitment of under-18s can and must be achieved in order to strengthen protection against child soldier use, and to safeguard other rights to which children are entitled.
Non-state armed groups
We work to end the recruitment and use of girls and boys under the age of 18 years by non-state armed groups. We seek both to strengthen the compliance of armed groups with international standards, and to ensure that states fulfil their responsibilities to protect children against recruitment and use by such groups.
We seek to ensure that individuals are held to account for the unlawful recruitment and use of children both by state armed forces and non-state armed groups. To achieve this we promote the adoption of laws by states to criminalise the practice and for timely, independent and effective investigations and prosecutions (national and international) into allegations of child recruitment and use.
We advocate for the release, recovery and social reintegration of all under-18s, girls and boys, from armed forces and armed groups whether they have been formally recruited by, or are informally associated with, them. In so doing, we seek to ensure that the full range of rights to which they are entitled are upheld.
The effective implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC) by states is a core element of all of our work. We advocate for states to take measures to implement their obligations under this treaty and we support the work of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child by submitting shadow reports on states which it examines and thematic briefings to inform its recommendations.
Work by Country
In Chad we are working to ensure that the government fulfils its commitment to protect children from involvement in armed conflict in state armed forces by establishing legal and practical mechanisms to safeguard children against recruitment and use.
Democratic Republic of Congo
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) our work is focused on ensuring that the government complies with its obligations under international law to end child recruitment and use by state armed forces and non-state armed groups, and on supporting local NGOs to advocate for the same.
In Myanmar our work is aimed at pressuring the national authorities and the UN to identify and release children currently in the ranks of state armed forces and putting in place measures needed to prevent on-going underage recruitment in state forces and armed opposition groups.
In Thailand we have undertaken research and advocacy to end recruitment and use of children by state civil defence forces. We are now working to ensure that broader obligations under international law to prevent children’s involvement in armed conflict are implemented by the state.
In the United Kingdom we are working to raise the minimum age of voluntary recruitment from 16 years to 18 years. Pending this, we seek improved protection of under-18s in the ranks and have already succeeded in obtaining discharge as a right for recruits aged under 18 years.