When President Barack Obama leaves the White House next January, people around the world will debate his legacy for years to come. But for the children of South Sudan, his legacy is clear: He has failed them.
Last week, the White House announced which countries will receive waivers to the prohibition on U.S. security assistance under the Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA). And this year, as with every other year, South Sudan was included in that list. With this announcement, the Obama administration has squandered its last chance to hold the corrupt, malignant South Sudanese leadership accountable for its crimes, depriving the boys and girls who have suffered at its hands of any justice.
Since 2010, the United States has furnished more than $1 billion in security assistance to governments listed by the CSPA that should have been withheld. According to research from the Stimson Center, only 4 percent of military aid that should have been kept out of the hands of governments that recruit and exploit children has actually been withheld. Obama’s liberal use of the waiver has not only stripped the law of meaning, but has also relieved these militaries of an important incentive for professionalizing their armed forces by ending the use of child recruitment.
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