The Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2007, sponsored by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Sam Brownback (R-KS), is designed to encourage governments to disarm, demobilize and rehabilitate child soldiers from government forces and government-supported militias.
Using the Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights as a barometer, this bill would place limits on the provision of U.S. International Military Education and Training, Foreign Military Financing and other defense-related assistance in our foreign operations programs for countries in violation of the bill’s standards.
Countries that are clearly identified in the Human Rights Report as recruiting or using child soldiers in government armed forces or government-supported paramilitaries or militias in violation of international standards would be eligible only for military assistance to address the issue of child soldiers and otherwise professionalize their armed forces until the problem is remedied.
Why was this bill introduced?
U.S. military assistance should not go to finance the use and exploitation of children in armed conflict. Such practices directly contravene U.S. policy, practice, and international agreements that the United States has ratified.
It is also in our own national security interest to reduce the incidence of child soldiers in the world: our commanders do not want U.S. troops to confront the specter of an armed child in a combat situation. The proposed bill is in alignment with U.S. policies and Department of Defense goals to help professionalize military bodies abroad.Children suffer higher mortality, disease and injury rates in combat situations than adults. The lasting effects of war and abuse may also remain with them long after the shooting stops. Both girls and boys may be stigmatized and traumatized by their experience and left with neither family connections nor skills to allow them to transition successfully into productive adult lives. This bill both underscores the importance of the issue within United States foreign policy and provides concrete means and incentives to help countries end their reliance on children as soldiers. Download the complete Child Soldier Bill Q&A document [pdf, 3 pgs] to learn more about the The Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2007.