n African Security Review - The youth factor in Africa's armed conflicts : rights, root causes and recruitment : essay

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Children are defined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child as people under the age of 18. Youth, although commonly used to describe the age group between 15-25, is not a term recognized in legislation designed to protect children. It has, however, become a concept employed by regimes and rebels alike to mobilize Africa's young population for political and military ends. African youth are caught in the chasm between childhood and the unattainable social, political and economic status that would define them as adults. Deprived of educational opportunities and livelihoods, youth are actively mobilized by politicians and armed groups alike, who recognize that their alliance is valuable and their enmity dangerous. The militarization of disaffected young people, of which the problem of child soldiers is only a small part, originates with the idea that youth constitute "potential" : a commodity that can and has been plundered alongside natural resources and public funds to serve the agendas of warfare.


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