Gordon Brown talks about how blogging and the internet are changing politics and international relations, by allowing communities to make their voices heard and coordinate action. Pretty cool given that that’s what we at The Advocacy Project are trying to do…
A very, very good article on child soldiers, which as some people will know is one of my main interests. I think this came from Chris Blattman’s blog but I’ve been waiting a while to post it and can’t really remember; apologies if I’m wrong. It explodes the myths that “child soldiering is a human rights issue”, “there are 300,000 child soldiers in the world”, “most child soldiers are African boys”, “globalisation created child soldiering”, “child soldiers are no match for western militaries”, and, most importantly of all, “our current approach to child soldiering is working”
Child soldiers are usually depicted as victims. That’s accurate: Exploited, torn from their families, deprived of their education, and forced into battle, child soldiers are truly casualties of war.
But they’re also assailants. Child soldiers are cheap and efficient weapons in asymmetric warfare. Accounts from the field tell of soldiers who are near free to recruit, cheap to feed, and quick to follow orders. They aptly learn how to employ brutal tactics. The Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel group operating in Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2002, for example, was notorious for raping and mutilating the civilian population. It was often coerced children, and often high or drunk ones, who perpetrated the acts. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, fighting for independence from Sri Lanka, relied on children for their suicide bombing missions during their decades-long campaign. At times, they found that children could much more easily penetrate targets than their adult counterparts.
Trained and educated in the ways of guerrilla war, many child combatants grow up in a world where brutality is the norm. The result is a violent gift that keeps on giving — today’s Taliban leaders reputedly cut their teeth in the field as child soldiers fighting the Soviets. In addition to inducing psychological trauma, a violent childhood reduces healthy educational opportunities, leaving militancy the only viable career path in later years. War becomes a way of life.
Broadband reaches Kenya and Tanzania! They hope this will quickly improve internet speeds all over East Africa – not sure if it’ll make it as far as Burundi, but it’s a good start and should bode well for The Advocacy Project’s partners in Kenya carrying on the work fellows are doing this summer!
Kenya does Spitting Image. For those of you not from the UK, Spitting Image was a programme on British TV in the 80s and 90s (Thatcher and Major Eras) that wickedly satired British politics. Given that Kenyan politics are not exactly clean, harmonious or transparent, more satire is more or less a Good Thing, and hopefully will highlight politicians’ traits apart from their ethnicity.
Solar Energy in Ethiopia. Proof that it can work, if people just pull their fingers out and get on with it.
Saturday is World Wide Gaffer Tape Appreciation Day. I love Gaffer Tape (fixed a car with it once, which is more or less my proudest moment. And this trip I have so far used Gaffer Tape to: hold together a falling-apart skirt, stick together a tube that exploded on the plane, and stick my lock to my door). I will therefore be celebrating by sticking something to something else.
And in other news, KP is out for the rest of the Ashes. This sucks. However, on the bright side we’re one draw and one win up with three to go, so it can’t possibly be as bad as last time.
Posted By Laura Gordon
Posted Jul 23rd, 2009