Children and Armed Conflict: A Child Rights-based Approach to Prevention and Mitigation
Armed conflict increasingly impacts children affecting their physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral health. The trauma and toxic stress of war impact all organ systems and have pervasive effects throughout the life course. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) delineates a list of 40 substantive and inalienable rights that are due every child. A child rights-based approach (CRBA) uses the principles of rights as outlined by the CRC, along with norms of social justice, to work toward health equity for each child. Using a CRBA to address the effects of armed conflict on children requires the establishment of relationships between duty-bearers—those who have a duty to fulfill the protection, provision, and participation rights of children—and rights-holders, the children to whom those rights belong. Children then become not only the objects of protection but the subjects of rights. A CRBA also creates a context for systems and policy development to realize the rights of children. Though the CRC has not yet been ratified in the United States, advocacy is ongoing toward this end, and lack of ratification does not preclude its use as a powerful tool for the attainment of health equity for children.
KeywordsUN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Child rights Child rights-based approach (CRBA) Social justice Health equity Armed conflict Children and youth
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