CHILDREN'S RIGHTS IN POST-CONFLICT RECONSTRUCTION
Of the many faces of war that shape public political discourse, the face of the child is perhaps the most pervasive. Disconcertingly, it is also the least understood. Conflict-affected children make for powerful imagery – often featured in news headlines – and provide arguably the best case against war and conflict. Unfortunately, even though great strides have been made in children’s rights protection in international law, violations of these rights in real-world conflicts have been on the rise. Even more alarming is what comes after – whole generations lost as the processes of post-conflict reconstruction fail to ensure the rehabilitation of children, with dire consequences for both the individual and for post-conflict society as a whole.
Children represent both the biggest challenge and the greatest hope for successful post-conflict reconstruction. Their lives, fundamentally informed by conflict, are going to be the bedrock of their war-weary societies’ gradual recovery – or of their downfall. Overcoming discordant patterns created by individual and collective trauma requires a great amount of effort on all sides, and to effectively aid this process the international human rights regime must develop accordingly. Affording children a larger role in all stages of post-conflict reconstruction thus represents the next logical step not only in the better protection of their rights, but also in an unparalleled advancement of the international human rights regime – as a source of peace and stability where they are most needed.