Jo Becker, Advocacy Director of the Children’s Rights division of Human Rights Watch reported on a highly successful Red Hand Day. On February 12 at the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “accepted a book of ‘ created by youth from around the world” in an effort to raise awareness against the use of child soldiers. HRW reported:
Yesterday’s ceremony took place on the 7th anniversary of the entry into force of the UN treaty banning the use of children in hostilities, the Optional Protocol to theon the involvement of children in armed conflict.
Four young people, including two former child soldiers, presented the red hands to the Secretary-General on behalf of the campaign. Madeleine, 18, a former child soldier from the Democratic Republic of Congo, said, “I am asking everyone here to help punish the leaders who recruit children, to help local communities say “no” to the use of child soldiers, and to give child soldiers the support they need to change their lives.”
In a statement, the Secretary-General promised to continue to make ending the use of child soldiers a “priority for the United Nations.”
Our collective work on child soldiers has brought progress in changing laws, protecting children and helping those who have been affected by war. But we must do more. Too many children are being taken from their homes and families and sent into battle. We must not rest until all children who have been recruited or used in violation of international law have been released, and until all children feel safe in their homes, schools and communities, without fear that they will be forced into war.
For the full text of the Secretary-General’s statement.
For photos of the Red Hand Day Event in New York and for the full statements of the youth delegates presenting “Red Hands” to the Secretary-General.