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A new report by Cymdeithas y Cymod, ForcesWatch and the Peace Pledge Union examines the issue of military recruitment in schools in Wales – an issue steeped in controversy and on which the Welsh government made a series of commitments in a report published in June 2015, following a public petition submitted in 2012. Since then, little tangible progress has been made against those commitments, yet military recruitment visits to Welsh schools have continued undiminished.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child recently reviewed the UK's position on implementing the articles and protocols of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. They made a number of recommendations relating to the armed forces recruitment of under-18s and the military's activities in schools.
Britain is the only EU country to enlist 16-year-olds into the armed services and, say objectors, it starts with access to the classroom.
This week the long-awaited consideration of the UK's implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child takes place. There are numerous issues being discussed, including many ways in which the rights of children are compromised or not adequately recognised by UK authorities. Also under scrutiny is the recruitment of 16 and 17 year olds, who are still legally children, into the UK armed forces, and UK's lack of education provision on peace and human rights. As an open letter to the MoD points out, the youngest recruits are 'actively sought' for frontline roles.
This report highlights that peace education is not being promoted in schools. This is counter to the recommendations made by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to the UK Government that peace education should be part of the curriculum. This raises concerns particularly with the increased promotion of the military within schools through the Department for Education's 'military ethos' programme and free military-related learning resources, and as the armed forces continue to conduct a substantial 'youth engagement' programme.
UK’s compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights
In advance of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child's consideration of how the UK complies with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (during autumn 2015), the UK Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights has published a short report outlining areas of concern. The report states: Again, we hope that our successor committee will have an opportunity to scrutinise the issue of children serving in the armed forces in the light of the UN Committee's concluding ovservations which will be delivered in 2016.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict
The UK remains the only EU country to recruit 16 year olds into the military and one of very few EU countries to recruit 17 year olds. The UK has signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict yet there is evidence that the UK continues to target children from vulnerable groups and that safeguards to protect under-18s are not effective.