Red Hand Day

Around the world, girls and boys are still forced into combat, used as soldiers and in other roles such as porters, cooks, spies, and sexual slaves. International law recognizes children involved in armed conflict primarily as victims of serious violations who require support to reintegrate into society. Although at least 130,000 children have been released or demobilized from armed forces or armed groups over the past 20 years, significant hurdles remain to ensuring these children receive the support they need.

This virtual side event, organized by Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, Save the Children, War Child UK, and World Vision International (WVI), will focus on key challenges for the effective reintegration of children formerly associated with armed forces or armed groups. In particular, the side event will highlight: 1) the criminalization of association with armed groups and its impacts on affected children; 2) the need for long-term, sustainable funding for comprehensive reintegration programming; and 3) the importance of gender-sensitive reintegration programs to address individual needs.

The event will build upon the November 2019 Arria-Formula meeting, co-sponsored by Belgium, Peru, Poland, and the United Kingdom, which focused on improving support for children separated from armed forces and armed groups and how bridging the humanitarian-development-peace (HDP) nexus can lead to more sustainable and successful reintegration. The Arria meeting also highlighted the importance of considering children’s views to develop more effective strategies for reintegration and post-conflict recovery, and how states and the humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding communities can transform affected children into peacebuilders.