A new report just released claims NATO armed forces in their treatment of teenage recruits “may violate international law”.
The report reveals:
- Physical, psychological and sexual abuse is endemic;
- Consent arrangements are legally inadequate;
- Recruitment and training practices “exploit young people”.
The report, Why 18 Matters, by the human rights group Child Soldiers International, examines recruitment and training practices of economically developed states, drawing on over 200 academic and official sources and the testimony of recruits. It shows how nations capitalise on the social, economic and psychological vulnerabilities of disadvantaged adolescents to meet recruiting targets. The authors claim these states may be violating their commitments under international law.
Young people considering a military career face misinformation, weak consent arrangements, routine ill-treatment during training, and an unacceptable risk of mental health problems as a result of joining too young, according to this new report into the enlistment of teenagers.
Examining the situation in Canada the report’s researchers highlighted “the deep-seated hierarchical nature of military culture, and the degree to which emphasis on the values of obedience, conformity and respect for superiors can lead to abuses of power, [and] the susceptibility of junior members to negative social influence”. In Canada, Germany, the UK and the US there is an increased risk of violent behaviour among young recruits.
Child Soldiers International is an international human rights organisation established in 1998 to end the recruitment, use and exploitation of children below the age of 18 by armed forces and military groups worldwide. It campaigns for a global minimum enlistment age of at least 18 years. Read more at http://www.child-soldiers.org.