The Link Between Child Solidiers and the Small Arms Trade

Experts on the small arms trade gather at UN headquarters in New York to discuss the nexus between the phenomenon of child soldiers and the trade in small arms, like the AK-47.

“It is argued by many that it is the proliferation of small arms that has actually contributed to this rise — the ready availability of small arms in the period 1970 — 2000 led to the rise and the phenomenon of child soldiers as we know it today,” Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN envoy on children and armed conflict, said.

“For $5 one can find a serviceable weapon in most countries in the developing world,” she added, noting that it takes a child on average only 40 minutes to master an AK-47, one of the most common weapons used around the world today. The UN envoy also stressed that there were 600 companies in 95 countries around the world producing small arms, in addition to the growing reach of private arms dealers “who sell arms to anyone and who are accountable to no one.”

(Note to the NRA: The United Nations is not trying to take away American’s constitutional right to bear arms. Rather, UN efforts on the small arms trade are geared toward making sure that AK-47s do not end up in the hands of small children in the developing world.)

Emmanuel Jal, an emerging world music and hip-hop star and former child soldier in Sudan attended the meetings. He’s now an advocate for child soldiers around the world–and is the subject of the new documentary War Child. Below is his first official music video release, which is for his song War Child.