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Protection of the rights of children victims of armed conflicts in north -eastern Nigeria under international humanitarian law

Iyabode Ogunniran


The Boko Haram insurgency started in 2002 as an Islamic Organization in response to local grievances in Borno State. Today, it has metamorphosed into a resilient force identified internationally for its brutality and declared an armed conflict of non-international character. Their activities are visible across Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States (North-Eastern Nigeria). The 1949 Four Geneva Conventions and the 1977 two Additional Protocols (AP I and II) regulate international and non-international armed conflicts. Nigeria ratified both in 1961 and 1988 respectively but is yet to domesticate the latter. The country has several national laws and is equally a signatory to human rights instruments protecting children in situations of armed conflict. Of significance is the Convention on the Rights of the Child domesticated as the Child Rights Act (CRA) in 2003. The above-mentioned States which are hot zones for vicious
attacks are yet to adopt the CRA. This paper assesses Nigeria’s commitments to international and regional frameworks protecting children during armed conflict. It analyses children’s rights in the CRA and the need to urgently activate the enforcement mechanism in the North East. The writer recommends both preventive and protective measures. For the former, the root causes of conflict such as poverty, inequality and collapsed social structure must be tackled. The latter are ensuring family unification of unaccompanied or
separated children; providing psycho-social programs to displaced children and abused as well as support the release and reintegration of children affected by the conflict.

Keywords: Children, Armed Conflict, North-Eastern Nigeria, Humanitarian Law, Human Rights