The United Nations Calls on Yemen to Implement Action Plan Amongst Continued Child-Recruitment

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Another step has been taken by the United Nations in its attempt to halt the recruitment of children into the armed forces in Yemen.[1] In the first ever report focused specifically on Yemen, The Secretary General for Children and Armed-Conflict called on the Yemeni government to implement an action plan aimed at ending the repeated international law and child-rights violations against Yemeni children.[2]

Despite a long history of child-recruitment in Yemen, the UN did not focus on the issue until 2010.[3] The UN has recently ramped up efforts to more clearly identify the magnitude of the problem with the 2012 implementation of the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting charged with “systematic monitoring and reporting of grave child rights violations.”[4] This has included initiatives such as the assessment of schools and the training of local private organizations to effectively report and track child-rights violations.[5]

Between July 2011 and March 2013, the UN documented 84 cases of recruitment and use of children within armed forces in Yemen.[6] Children are driven into the military due in part to the dire circumstances many in Yemen face.[7] Children join for the prospect of a salary or are driven by their support for a given regime or cause.[8] The report asserts the need for the reintegration of previous child-recruits into society to prevent re-recruitment.[9]

The Yemeni government has long struggled to control the recruitment practices of its military and the tribal militias it relies on in times of conflict.[10] However, the current Yemeni government regime has expressed a desire to curb the pattern of child recruitment, believing that the country cannot have peace as long as the recruitment continues.[11] With tensions in the area remaining very high, this may prove to be a difficult goal to achieve.[12]

Given the splintered nature of loyalties within the state between the government and other tribal influences, asking the Yemeni government to solve this problem alone would likely prove too great a request.[13] While the UN has successfully cultivated a growing level of support within the Yemini government and Al-Houthi armed group,[14] efforts must continue to secure commitments from the First Armored Division and the various tribal groups throughout the nation. Most crucially, it is important for the UN to ramp up efforts to combat the underlying problem of severe child-poverty rates, which propels children into the ranks of the military. The recent progress cited by the UN is to be applauded, but only briefly so. This progress is a step toward solution but should not be confused for a solution in itself.

[1] Stephanie Tremblay, Challenges and Progress Highlighted in the First Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict in Yemen, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, July 26, 2013,

[2] U.N. Secretary General, Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict in Yemen, S/2013/383, 17, June 28, 2013, available at

[3] Id.

[4] Id. at 15.

[5] Id.

[6] Id. at 6.

[7] See id. at 1, 7.

[8] Id. at 8.

[9] See supra note 1.

[10] Child Soldiers International, Louder Than Words-Case Study: Yemen: A Deep-Rooted Problem Made Worse By Inaction, Louder Than Words 97, Sept. 12, 2012, available at

[11] Amal Al-Yarisi, Child Recruitment for Armed Conflicts A ‘Large-Scale’ Problem, Yemen Times, Nov. 29, 2012, available at‘large-scale’-problem.htm

[12] See id.

[13] See supra note 2 at 4, 5.

[14] Id. at 13.

Posted by Dillon A. Redding on Mon. October 7, 2013 8:00 AM
Categories: International Human Rights, Yemen

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