London, 12 April 2019

In what is an increasingly challenging funding and operating environment for small human rights NGOs, it is with regret we announce that Child Soldiers International is to cease operating on 7 June 2019.

Since our inception as the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers in 1998, and then as an independent organisation from 2011, we have fought tirelessly to end the devastating practice of child recruitment.

Individuals from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Save the Children, and other NGO actors formed the Coalition to press the UN to adopt a treaty outlawing the recruitment and use of children. We succeeded and in 2000, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC) was adopted.

The Coalition was central to OPAC’s creation and the drafting of its principles. We have advocated for its universal ratification and proper implementation ever since. As of 2019, 168 of 197 UN Member States have ratified the treaty.

While the adoption of OPAC is a key milestone in our history, our successes have been many over the years. During the past two decades much progress has been made. Attitudes have changed, laws have been passed, thousands of children are free from the clutches of armed actors, countless communities have become engaged in preventing recruitment, and support for returning children is being strengthened. 

Child Soldiers International is immensely proud to have played a significant part in achieving some of this and while our organisation will no longer be active, our work lives on through this legacy.

We express sincere gratitude to all partners, public supporters, donors and peers who believed in our work and supported us. Without your generous donations, time, expertise and advocacy for our cause over the years, our impact would not have been so significant. We would like to express humble gratitude to our beneficiaries, the children and young people we have worked with and the communities who support them.

If we are to eradicate the scourge of child recruitment, then everyone, from governments and UN bodies to NGOs, civil society and young people globally, must continue to take a stand.

We are in discussions with partner organisations - the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and the Child Rights International Network (CRIN) – to ensure our existing programmes can continue to provide critical resources to children affected by armed conflict and their communities and that our campaigning for a world where no child is exploited by military forces continues to be championed. More details will be shared in the coming weeks.