Child Labor


There are countless problems with Child Labor in Liberia, Africa. They have Child solders and children being forced to take jobs. More than 300,000 children are being used as soldiers in more than thirty countries around the world. Human Rights Watch has interviewed child soldiers from countries including Angola, Colombia, Lebanon, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Uganda. In Liberia, thousands of children abducted by rebel forces witnessed and participated in horrible atrocities against civilians, including beheadings, amputations, rape, and burning people alive. Children forced to take part in atrocities were often given drugs to overcome their fear or reluctance to fight. Girls are also used as soldiers in many parts of the world. In addition to combat duties, girls may be taken as “wives” by rebel leaders in Liberia. (VI. Pg. 2)


In 1998, the recruitment of children under the age of fifteen and their use in hostilities was identified as a war crime in the statute of the International Criminal Court. Once established, the court will have jurisdiction to prosecute those responsible for the use of child soldiers. The use of children as soldiers has also been recognized as a child labor issue. A new international treaty banning the worst forms of child labor, adopted in June of 1999 by the International Labor Organization, prohibits the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflicts. Despite this growing momentum, efforts to stop the use of child soldiers have not yet reached its final result. (Child, pg. 1)


The recruitment of child soldiers continues around the world. Those responsible for their recruitment escape justice, and key governments continue to resist efforts to establish and enforce the prohibitions necessary to end the use of children as soldiers. Although most recruits were over fifteen years of age, significant recruitment started at age ten, and the use of even younger children was not uncommon. (Child, pg. 2)


There were many reasons that Liberia needed these child solders. A new wave of violence in Sierra Leone resulted in the forced recruitment of thousands of children by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). After losing political power in February, the AFRC/RUF launched a war of terror, using children and other abductors to engage in armed attacks against Sierra Leone civilians, Civilian Defense Forces, and soldiers from the Economic Community Cease-fire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), a peacekeeping force set up by the Economic Community of West African States. Children recruited as soldiers by the AFRC/RUF typically were provided with food, mind-altering drugs, and firearms and forced to fight and commit atrocities alongside the AFRC/RUF soldiers. (Promises, pg. 1)


Civilian Defense Forces fighting on behalf of the Sierra Leone government also recruited children at least as late as July, despite numerous public pledges by the government to desist from the use of child soldiers. Special Representative to the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Olara Otunnu completed the first full year of his three-year mandate. As part of his activities, the Special Representative made field visits to Kosovo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, and the Sudan, in order to assess the situation of children, obtain commitments for child protection, and heighten awareness of the problems facing children in armed conflict. In Sierra Leone, he received commitments from the government and the Civil Defense Forces (Kamajors) to refrain from recruiting under-eighteens, and helped initiate plans for new demobilization and reintegration programs for child combatants. International standards prohibiting the use of child soldiers remained woefully inadequate. A U.N. working group mandated to rise the minimum age for recruitment and participation in armed conflict from the existing fifteen to eighteen failed to reach agreement on a text during its February 1998 meeting. The United States, supported by a small number of other states, vigorously opposed an eighteen-year minimum for either military recruitment or participation in armed conflict, effectively blocking any progress in the four-year-old negotiations to raise existing standards through an optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. (Govt. pg. 3)


In the factories of Liberia, there are child workers working as hard as they can to help support their family. Most of their fathers are off fighting in the Civil War or aren’t able to support their families. Their mothers are the head of the house and