Child Soldiers Prevention Act Subverted by The White House

Earlier this week the President of the United States unilaterally determined that the standards for protecting children from coerced soldering must be waived for the Congo, Sudan, Yemen and Chad to maintain political relationships with each nation by continuing to send them financial aid, reported the New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/29/world/africa/29soldiers.html?_r=1&hp.
The text of the White House memo can be read here:

Conscription of any sort is forced labor at best, but conscription of child soldiers is particularly heinous. This is exactly why the United States has the Child Soldiers Prevention Act in place. Yet American will not only not denounce it, but will fund it with this latest Presidential decision to bend the rules for these four nations that force children in harms way routinely.

These children have most likely been kidnapped from their parents, or orphaned and conscripted by the very national armies the U.S. continues to fund. (I have published extensively on this area of law as it is forbidden by the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child, yet routinely violated by that august body, to the great detriment of children. (See my article Suffer the Children: How the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Has Not Supported Children, 22 N.Y. I. L. REV. 1 (Summer 2009).) And now the U.S. follows the U.N. it bending its own separate and distinct rules toward incredible harm to children. This scenario cannot ever be in the best interests of any child anywhere in the world, and indeed accomplishes devastating and often irreparable damage to families.

This decison is the furtherest thing from family restoration for four nations in desparate need of such a remedy.


  1. This is very discouraging. If we as a nation cannot uphold our own laws, then why should we expect others to follow suit. It seems that this flows from a breakdown in family values within our own nation and around the world. It also has direct impact on our adherence to the rule of law as well if we support nations that are clearly violating the law. The only major dilemma in some of these situations is how do we still support those in need around the world while distancing ourselves from the regimes who commit such atrocities. It is a hard balance.

  2. Unfortunately I think this reflects the degradation of the value placed on the family in America. We cannot transport ideals which we do not hold onto ourselves. Please don't misunderstand, I think we should most definitely withhold funding from these nations. However, this action is simply a symptom of the values of much of our leadership as a nation. This is extremely concerning. Unfortunately, in this situation, children are paying the price.