International Red Hand Day
Red Hand Day is an international day of action against the use of child soldiers and other forms of child labour in armed conflicts. It was launched in Germany in 2004 to raise awareness about child recruitment and the plight of children in armed conflict. The event draws attention to the fates of children involved in war and is organized by various organizations.
The Red Hand campaign focuses on three issues: children’s rights, child abuse and the plight of child soldiers. Hundreds of events are held to raise awareness about the issue, including petition drives, marches and other activities. There are also opportunities to sign a petition or submit a red hand print with your personal message. In addition, there is a Red Hand Day website where information on the campaign, youth initiatives and other relevant information is provided.
On International Red Hand Day, students and children from around the world make their own red handprints and write a personal message in support of the Campaign. This is then presented to UN representatives and politicians. The aim of the Campaign is to get governments to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which bans the recruitment of children for military service.
Despite the adoption of the Optional Protocol, there are still thousands of children trapped in armed groups. They are often hired as spies, or abused and exploited by a family for their social status or income. While recruiters falsely promise to provide them with a “career” or full meal, the reality is much different.
Hundreds of youth organisations have organised events to highlight the continued use of child soldiers, and to call for stronger action to end them. These activities can include painting hands red, holding rallies, organizing a school awareness program, and presenting a book of red hands to politicians and UN representatives. Several organizations, including UNICEF, Amnesty International, Save the Children and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, have joined the Campaign.
Since the first Red Hand Campaign in 2004, hundreds of thousands of red handprints have been collected from over 50 countries. Thousands of children and former child soldiers have created red hands to call for an end to the use of child soldiers. Some of the campaigns have been successful, but thousands of children remain in armed forces worldwide.
One of the most powerful aspects of the campaign is the dedication and activism of young people. Hundreds of schools, youth clubs and other organisations have hosted events and petition drives in order to highlight the continued use of child soldiers. Throughout the world, hundreds of events have been held in dozens of countries to draw attention to the plight of these vulnerable children.
Many politicians, diplomats and members of the United Nations have signed red hands in solidarity with the campaign. During the ceremony, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon promised to stamp out the use of child soldiers.