The Recruitment and Use of Girls in Armed Forces and Groups in Angola: Implications for Ethical Research and Reintegration
One of the most significant violations of human rights is the recruitment of children, defined under international law as people under 18 years of age, into armed forces such as national armies or armed groups such as the opposition groups that fight government forces in more than 20 countries.
This violation of children’s rights takes an enormous toll on children and societies. Although the physical damage to children garners the most attention, extensive harm arises also from the interaction of physical, psychological, social, and spiritual factors. This damage to children weakens an important source of social capital, particularly because children in war-torn societies are half the population. Also, child recruitment produces damage at the societal level, enabling continuing war.
In some societies, children comprise a significant percentage of the fighting forces and commanders are able to continue fighting by recruiting children. Often, societies suffer damage through inter-generational fighting, as the socialization of children into fighting and systems of social division and hatred sets the stage for ongoing cycles of violence. In this respect, child recruitment is not only a human rights issue but also an issue of peace and human development.