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Stopping the War on Children

Children living in conflict zones are being targeted for violence on an unprecedented scale, despite their “protected” status under human-rights laws. As world leaders gather in New York this month for the UN General Assembly, they should call a halt to the violation of children's rights, for which many of them are partly to blame.

LONDON – Twenty years ago this month, the United Nations General Assembly received a report by former Mozambican Education Minister Graça Machel detailing the effects of armed conflict on children. Documenting a pattern of systematic and targeted attacks, including killing, rape, and forced recruitment into armed groups, Machel concluded: “This is a space devoid of the most basic human values….There are few further depths to which humanity can sink.”

Machel was wrong. A generation later, humanity is plumbing even greater depths of moral depravity. Children living in conflict zones are being targeted for violence on an unprecedented scale, and the elaborate system of UN human-rights provisions designed to protect them is violated with impunity.

On the twentieth anniversary of the Machel report, the international community must draw a line and stop the war against children.

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