The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has made a distinction between ‘recruitment’ and ‘choice’ by many children ending up as armed combatants, especially in regions like the eastern DRC. Of course, as this article points out, ‘choice’ has to be severely qualified when it comes to children being aware of ‘informed consent’. 

But the Red Cross, in making a distinction, points to the great number of children that see an allure and attraction to becoming involved in armed groups – often to counter a life of poverty or domestic violence.

Our own experience in the National Platform Project in Uganda, and our research and direct work with former-combatants, would confirm the ICRC’s own findings and the importance of psycho-social training for the former child soldiers or potential child soldiers to “reinforce their mental defences against the temptation of recruitment.”

Like our work with partner organizations in Uganda, the ICRC has targeted these ‘sub-groups’ of child combatants specifically to reintegrate through sponsorship of skills and job training programs. Read the full story and account of one former combatant being impacted positively by learning new skills in such a program here.

To learn more about how the Goldin Institute is sponsoring and creating on the ground initiatives to stem the recruitment and reintegrate former child soldiers, please visit this page


Co-founders of the Institute, Diane Goldin and Travis Rejman meet with students in Uganda learning new skills that will enable them to become productive within their communities. Many of these students are former child soldier combatants or at risk to being drawn to join the ranks of armed militias. Photo Credit: Goldin Insitute