U.S. Military Assistance and Children’s Rights Violations: Lessons from Afghanistan

Though Afghanistan has received tens of billions of dollars of assistance from the United States to develop local security forces, U.S.-supported military and police forces have often not lived up to standards of professionalism and accountability. Human rights and oversight organizations continue to document corrupt and abusive behavior, including toward children.

Despite the well-known use and exploitation of children by elements of Afghanistan’s security forces, the United States has repeatedly failed to include the country in its annual Trafficking in Persons list, which includes parties precluded from receiving security assistance under the Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA). Last September, the New York Times reported that the United States military was not only aware that it was partnering with Afghan security officials who practiced bacha bazi—sexual enslavement and rape of boys—but that U.S. military officials instructed their subordinates to ignore the issue.

The failure to protect children from abusive security forces raises important questions about U.S. military assistance generally. Does the U.S. military attach any conditions to the military aid it provides? How faithfully does it apply conditions that are a matter of U.S. law—including those contained in the CSPA and the “Leahy Law”? What more could the U.S. do to incentivize respect for rights by its local partners?

This expert panel will explore the record of conditionality on U.S. aid to Afghanistan and the practical steps that can be taken to improve implementation of U.S. laws relating to military assistance.


  • Charu Lata Hogg is the policy and advocacy director at Child Soldiers International.
  • Jessica Bousquette is the child protection advocacy advisor at World Vision.
  • Rachel Reid is the advocacy manager for the Middle East, North Africa, and Southwest Asia at the Open Society Foundations.

This event will be on the record. Please RSVP to attend.

Date: March 30, 2016
Time: 1:303:00 p.m.
Jessica Bousquette, Charu Lata Hogg, and Rachel Reid

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