Thursday, March 8, 2007

Child Soldiers in Africa, International Law and War Crimes

Two related events on these topics are scheduled next week.

First, on Tuesday (13 March), the Indiana Council on World Affairs will discuss war crimes with an expert in international law, an activist working to prosecute a Congolese warlord before the International Criminal court, and a former child soldier from Congo.

The next evening (14 March), the same three presenters will appear at the Old Centrum for a film screening and further discussion.

This information comes from John Clark, who invites all interested to attend either or both programs.

Tuesday's event, part of the ICWA's Great Decisions Series, takes place from 7-9 p.m. in Room 103 of the Pharmacy Building on the campus of Butler University, Indianapolis.

Wednesday's film and discussion takes place from 7-9 p.m. in the Old Centrum, 520 East 12th Street, Indianapolis.

Here's what John Clark has to say:

"The systematic and widespread use of children—the most vulnerable members of the population—in armed conflict is not new. The plight of these children continues to shock the conscience and demands immediate and urgent action.

"The International Criminal Court is launching its first case, formally charging Thomas Lubanga Dyilo (the onetime leader of the country's Union des Patriotes Congolais) with 'war crimes of enlisting and conscripting of children under the age of fifteen years'. Although the US has opposed the ICC, fearing that American soldiers or policymakers could be subject to prosecution, it has cooperated in the case against Lubanga.

"On Tuesday, March 13, Golzar Kheiltash of Citizens for Global Solutions will explain what this means. Golzar combines a rigorous academic legal background with strong advocacy skills to promote international legal norms and mechanisms that can prevent and punish the most heinous crimes such as genocide. Golzar has researched, analyzed, and advocated for the ICC in a personal and professional capacity for the last seven years, and currently coordinates the Washington Working Group on the ICC (WICC).

"At her March 13 talk at Butler University, Golzar will be joined by two special visitors to Indianapolis. In a recent visit to the ICC, she met Bukeni Beck, an activist and filmmaker who seeks to revealing the plight of child soldiers and to give these children a second chance. They will be accompanied by 'Madelaine', a fifteen year old former girl soldier from Congo.

"Beck documents the stories of hundreds of child soldiers on film, revealing a stark and systematic cycle of recruitment and conscription, narrated by the children and their families in their own words. His films demonstrate the difficulties of many children who want to reintegrate into their communities after leaving the camps. This is especially true of girl soldiers who have suffered the added brutality of rape and sexual violence at the hands of their commanders.

"What a fantastic opportunity to hear how these terrible issues are being addressed at a global and multilateral level, and at a local level as well.
"The event Wednesday March 14 should be even more interesting. At the Old Centrum, Bukeni will show films of the plight of child soldiers, programs that are helping restore them to a life resembling normal, and with Golzar and Madelaine we will brainstorm about what we can do to help," Clark concludes.

No comments: