The Right to Priority in Times of War: Would You Torture One Child to Bring World Peace?

As the most astute students of the human condition have rightly concluded, it never can, for the fruits of torture and violence are always more violence, more children suffering with wounds to their bodies and hearts and minds. Thus, as Zen Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh so aptly puts it, “There is no way to peace, peace is the way.” As Mahatma Gandhi recognized, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” And as Jesus taught, “Do not make use of force against an evil man; but to him who gives you a blow on the right side of your face let the left be turned.” (Mathew 5:39) and “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Mathew 26:52)

And then there are the provisions of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which speak directly to the special obligations adults have to children in times of war. Article 38 sets out the following standards for giving priority to children in times and places of war and political violence:

In accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population in armed conflicts … shall take all feasible measures to ensure the protection and care of children who are affected by an armed conflict.

It also includes a mandate to exclude as soldiers youth younger than 15 years of age (a provision that has been augmented by a special agreement signed by many countries- including the United States-to set the age limit at 18).


Terrorist Attack Armed Conflict Atomic Bomb Political Violence World Trade Center 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

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