The Loophole That Lets the U.S. Government Fund the Use of Child Soldiers

The Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 (CSPA) should be fairly straightforward: the law bans the United States from providing military assistance or arms sales to governments that use children in combat. Simply put, if a country’s government uses child soldiers, it cannot receive military support from the United States.

Except several countries that use child soldiers do.

This is because of a loophole in the child soldiers ban called a “national interest waiver,” which allows the president to bypass the law if it is deemed in the U.S. national interest to do so. For the past five years, the State Department has compiled an annual list of governments known to recruit and use children as soldiers called the Trafficking in Persons (TIPS) list. Yet countries on this list have been denied only a smattering of military support—in many cases, military arms and assistance were provided to countries identified by the United States as using child soldiers.

For instance, last year full waivers were granted to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, and Somalia. South Sudan received a partial waiver. And while Yemen did not receive a waiver, the president granted the secretary of state the authority to resume military support should he deem it necessary. All of these countries are guilty of putting children in combat.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan did not even make the TIPS list, even though that country uses child soldiers. The Afghan Local Police (ALP) and Afghan National Police (ANP) have both been listed in the UN’s annual report on children and armed conflict as recruiting and using children for more than five consecutive years.

This highlights a blind spot in the U.S. government’s policy. In complex conflicts like Afghanistan’s, children are often more likely to be recruited and used by the police than by the military, because in these countries recruitment is typically more localized. Yet the U.S. State Department maintains that the ALP and ANP do not legally fall under the rubric of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, since they are police and not armed forces.

At Child Soldiers International, we find this to be a tendentious argument. By the U.S. government’s own admission, the ANP and ALP are deployed as counterinsurgency forces. Moreover, excluding the recruitment and use of children by Afghan police forces from the CSPA listing mechanism is inconsistent with international humanitarian and human rights laws.

The U.S. government’s failure to apply the CSPA uniformly and consistently detracts from its commitment to protect the rights of children globally. Ultimately, no amount of “national interest” should stand in the way of pressuring abusive governments to end grave violations against children, including war crimes. By not listing all forces that egregiously violate children’s rights, the United States is sending a message that abuse can be justified under certain circumstances. Surely, this can’t be right.



Stop this loophole! The President, I don't care who it is, can stop this. Don't support the countries that use innocent (the future of USA) children as Child soldiers. Do we want to be known as an "abusive" where our children are concerned?

Toomuch $ and power is fueling this inconsistency. We should be ashamed.

The US government has militarized police across the country so it cannot call police in foreign countries it aids unconnected with the military.

For US to grant waivers to countries that use child soldiers is unforgivable- these kids are scarred for life. Adding to that list should also be Islamic State and their child soldiers (explosions by remote control- teaching decapitation on dolls-use of arms). Simultraneously there should be 'psychological treatment' for children ' used as soldiers to guarantee that they could lead normal,productive lives. (Hitler Jugend should have stopped nations to never use children as soldiers.

Bad game is USA playing! It is working for the Sustainability of Child Abuse!

iam add my voice to usa govrnment

USA, Govt. should uphold the rule of law since no-one is above the dictates of the law. respect for children's rights can be evidently seen promoted if USA Gvt. avoid trading weapons of war with countries that are using recruiting children for war. compliance with the child soldiers prevention Act of 2008 on the part of USA Gvt. is key to upholding universal human rights.

I am really shocked that the US has this dual standard.
Imagine how the abuse would escalate with somone like TRump in charge!!

Indeed I support the International Child Rights Law it has to be implemented in accordance..

an abomination !

Well. Children are not ready for to become soldiers . The age to become soldiers is 21 or older.

Abolish the national interest waiver and put Afghanistan on the list!

End the hypocrisy! Live our principles! Rigorously deny aid to offending nations.


Duel policy of USA is creating a lot of mis-understanding among the countries and the communities across the world. Child Soldering should be dealer an international crime and prosecuted under the international law. The problems start at the exemption level. If you allow any exemption in any case you can not enforced the law in other cases.

Am not surprised at hearing that. USA is always a double does not follow what it says. South Sudan Child is twice a victim of such acts.

very non-ethical actions

This article calls for too much speculation. There are not nearly enough facts. The article pieces together a picture based on limited information. Maybe intervirw someone?

We still believe in myths " god is on our side" garbage.

Surely, America remains God-s own country,it's usefui and most rewarding to always be guided by the sacred Words of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour-this time around , it concerns the sanctity of life of children.Just a reminder...He said' ..suffer little children to come unto me, forbid them not,..for theirs is the Kingdom of God. If we all remember that and respect its fuller meaning, we might, when we look at the BIG PICTURE of life.,be convinced that there might be no need to manufacture much guns or the need to recruit and train children to pull the triggers!

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