US Foreign Policy
Op-Ed

A Record Number of Countries Are Using Child Soldiers

And we’re still undermining a law that could encourage them to change their behavior.

Part of the Child Soldiers Project
By Shannon Dick Co-author ·  Rachel Stohl Co-author

This article was originally published in Inkstick.

Ten years ago, the US government took a notable step in working to secure the human rights of children around the world. On June 14, 2010, the State Department publicly listed, for the first time, countries that exploited children in armed conflict and, in so doing, blocked their access to coveted US military equipment and security assistance. Now, ten years later, on June 25, the State Department released the 10th edition of what has since come to be known as the “CSPA list” and named more countries than ever before as being complicit in the recruitment and/or use of child soldiers.

The CSPA list is a critical feature of US legislation aimed at ending the recruitment or use of child soldiers by foreign governments worldwide. The law, known as the Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA, for short), requires the Secretary of State to publish an annual list of countries whose armed forces, police, or other security forces, or government-backed armed groups recruit or use child soldiers.

Six governments were identified on the first CSPA list. Ten years later, the list has more than doubled, with 14 countries identified in 2020 – the highest number of countries ever identified in a single year. This year’s list includes repeat offenders that have appeared on every list since 2010, as well as one new addition and some renewed appearances by countries that were previously removed from the list.

Read the full article in Inkstick.

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