Target: The United Nations
Goal: Urge the UN to create a treaty to use education as a tool against terrorism
Currently there are an estimated 300,000 children intimately involved in warfare and violent conflict worldwide. While the United Nations drafted a treaty in 2002 that bans governments and rebel groups from recruiting or deploying anyone under the age of 18 in armed conflict, the truth is that in modern warfare children have become considered an economically efficient alternative to adult soldiers. Children are recruited because they are easier to indoctrinate and have limited understanding or conceptualization of death. Children of poor families in particular are targeted for indoctrination because they are easily influenced with promises of afterlife and a sense of purpose. All over the world in various conflicts, children are being deliberately targeted and used as soldiers, intelligence operatives, and suicide bombers. All over the world, children are routinely used and targeted by various armed forces to fight and commit violence, sometimes against their own families or villages.
In many cases children are forcibly recruited, abducted from their homes, and coerced or beaten into submission. But today there are many other factors that lead children into armed forces. Widespread poverty is a factor for some families; when joining armed groups may ensure children at least one meal a day, some parents may make the decision to send their children away. Discrimination and marginalization of ethnic groups can be an incentive for children to join armed groups, as children who witness their family’s or village’s destruction may feel the need for revenge.
In Pakistan studies estimate that 90% of suicide bombers are between the ages of 12 and 18. Pakistani Taliban commander Qari Hussain has boasted about using children as young as five years old as “tools to achieve God’s will.” It is relatively easy to indoctrinate children because of children’s attraction to the glamor of martyrdom and heroic deeds while unable to conceptualize death and militant leaders know it.
The only proven way to prevent indoctrination of children is through education. In various countries throughout the world, studies have shown that children who resisted the allure of warfare and military were children who had been provided basic comprehensive education. Pakistani Taliban, Palestinian militants, and rebel armies throughout Africa’s countries deliberately target uneducated children because they know those children will be more easily to brainwashed. Education needs to be a priority for all countries with extremist militant groups that target children. Sign the petition below to urge the United Nations, as an organization that speaks for the globe, to draft a pledge to educate at-risk children specifically to keep them from being active participants in a war zone.
Dear United Nations,
As the world’s speaker, the United Nations holds a responsibility to identify not only violations of human rights but also solutions to the problem. In modern warfare, children are being deliberately targeted and recruited for use in armed conflict. Often these children are identified by their poor economic status and low level of education. Recruiting children from marginalized families is an easy task for rebel groups and armed forces because such children are easily influenced by doctrines and enjoy the glamor of heroism and martyrdom. Throughout Pakistan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and others poor, uneducated children are falling sway to fictional tales created to woo young recruits. The only barrier against militant groups’ tales of heroic deeds is comprehensive education.
While the United Nations does advocate education as a basic human right, education needs to be understood as a tool against terror. The Taliban in Pakistan target children who have had no access to education because Taliban leaders know they will be easily brainwashed. When children have been learning math, science, reading and writing, their worldview will grow along with conceptualization and critical thinking. An uneducated child will only conceptualize what he or she sees and without lessons at critical thinking, stories of magic created by militant groups will be appealing to a child’s need to understand the world. Comprehensive education is truly the powerful tool against terrorism.
I urge you, as the organization that represents the world’s nations, to draft a pledge for all countries to sign to use education as a tool against terrorism and warfare.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Oxfam International via Fotopedia