Protecting children from armed conflictBMJ 1998; 316 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7144.1549 (Published 23 May 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:1549
The UN convention needs an enforcing arm
- David Southall, Consultant paediatrician,
- Abbasi Kamran, Editorial registrar
- North Staffordshire Hospital Centre, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 6QG (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Once wars and other conflicts begin, children suffer abuse—physical, sexual, and emotional. This is despite international laws to protect them.1 Recent studies on the psychological consequences of armed conflict have shown that the resultant unhappiness and mental disturbance is so great in children that it can rarely be repaired.2 4 The answer therefore has to be prevention, and, if that fails, the international community needs to act rapidly to protect vulnerable children.
In conflicts over the past 10 years 90% of casualties have been civilians. Two million children have been killed and 4–5 million seriously injured (usually without analgesia, anaesthesia, or surgical facilities to treat them). Twelve million children have been made homeless, over one million orphaned, and countless psychologically traumatised. Three quarters of deaths from antipersonnel mines are among children.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (International Law in 1990)
In accordance with their obligations under International Humanitarian laws in armed conflicts, States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure protection and care of children who are affected by an armed conflict.—Article 38, pt 4
Inequalities in health care, and the poverty in which a …