US restricts military assistance to some states that recruit and use children
The US government is continuing to exercise pressure through the application of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA) by granting partial waivers to some states in order to end their unlawful recruitment and use of children in conflict. In its 2014 Trafficking in Persons report, the US Department of State listed nine states, namely the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Myanmar, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Chad, this year, does not figure in the list compiled by the US State Department.
Following the determination of President Obama on the CSPA announced today, CAR, the DRC and South Sudan will be entitled only to limited military assistance. This is the second year in a row that DRC is not granted full military assistance due to its failure to end the recruitment and use of children by its military. While last year CAR was denied any form of military assistance under the CSPA, this year it will be able to obtain limited military assistance. South Sudan last year was granted a blanket waiver but in light of the recrudescence of child recruitment and use during the recent conflict, the US will provide only restricted military support.
President Obama decided to waive the application of the CSPA for Rwanda, Somalia and Yemen, despite their record on child recruitment, on grounds of US national interest. Somalia and Yemen have been listed in the Trafficking in Persons report since the adoption of the CSPA in 2008, yet they have consistently benefitted from blanket waivers.
As a result of this year’s presidential determination, the only countries for which the restrictions imposed by the CSPA will fully apply are those whose governments do not have military relations with the US, namely Myanmar, Syria and Sudan.
Child Soldiers International welcomes the decision of President Obama to continue using partial waivers as a way of maintaining leverage in countries where children are still recruited and used in conflict; however consistently granting persistent perpetrators of child recruitment blanket waivers could undermine the credibility and impact of the CSPA. Blanket waivers send the wrong message that child recruitment and use can be sidelined by political considerations. This is in contrast with the position adopted by the US and a significant number of other UN member states in their firm support to the UN campaign ‘Children Not Soldiers’, which aims at ending state child recruitment by 2016.
Chad has also been de-listed from the Annex to the Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, issued in May 2014.
For general information on how countries, including the US, should refrain from transferring arms or military assistance to states where there is a risk of child recruitment or use, please see:
• Child Soldiers International, Louder than words: an agenda for action to end state use of child soldiers, September 2012, Part IV.
Text of the US Presidential determination on waivers to the CSPA.
For more information contact Child Soldiers International at +44 (0) 20 7367 4110