When it comes to international peace and security, children are often viewed as an afterthought.
We focus mostly on the geopolitical dimensions of conflicts and crises, the involvement of major powers like the United States, Russia, and China, and the potential of crisis to escalate into major international wars. We ignore how conflict and crisis impacts children and youth, and how they influence these events.
Whether it is the use of child soldiers by most parties to the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the children injured and killed by chemical weapons in Syria, the fifty percent of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh who are children, Venezuelan kids growing up hungry, or the fear experienced by their counterparts in Hawaii due to a missile attack false alarm, conflict and crisis has a profound effect on children and youth, harming them and the future of our societies.
All too often children and youth are considered an afterthought, unimportant actors on the global stage—except when viewed as a threat. Despite the Convention on the Rights of the Child being the most ratified human rights treaty in the world – the US alone has not ratified it – issues facing children and youth are seldom considered in peace negotiations, their voices often go unheard in politics and government, and their contributions to and role in the world are underappreciated by academia, governments, businesses, and the general public.
To understand, respond to, and help resolve crisis and conflict, we need a better understanding of all the actors involved, and this includes children and youth. The ways they experience, contribute to, and help to resolve these challenges require exploration and attention, while the voices of children and youth must be listened to and amplified.
Children and youth bring unique perspectives and fresh ideas, and tend not to be as jaded, cynical, or reactionary as their older peers. Even more importantly, they have a deep desire to feel empowered to address some of the world’s largest challenges. To bring the energy and expertise of youth to questions of children and armed conflict, we at the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative have been publishing an academic journal focused on contributions from authors under 30. Now in its third volume, we are seeking papers from young scholars and practitioners on how the most pressing conflicts and crises, as examined by International Crisis Group last month, impact and are impacted by children and youth.
When published, this volume will pair the work of young scholars with short commentaries by experts in the field, presenting a combination of fresh insights with expert knowledge. In previous volumes we have published papers examining such questions as whether and how we should view children involved in cyberwarfare as child soldiers, and how the traditional involvement of children in cattle raiding in South Sudan was leveraged into a key recruitment method in the current civil war there.
We invite you to contribute to Allons-y by February 26th.