UN child, conflict expert weighs in on Kony 2012

    Radhika Coomaraswamy, the United Nations secretary-general's special representative for children and armed conflict. Photo by: Paulo Filgueiras / UN

    By focusing on a different aspect of Uganda’s child soldiers problem, the controversial Kony 2012 campaign could have made a more significant contribution to solving the issue, a U.N. expert has said.

    The now-viral video should have focused on raising awareness and funds for the reintegration of child soldiers instead of pressing for the arrest of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, explained Radhika Coomaraswamy, the U.N. secretary-general’s special representative for children and armed conflict.

    Coomaraswamy said she is sympathetic to calls for Kony’s capture and even praised the campaign for igniting a “lively debate.” But Coomaraswamy voiced reservations about the military solution the campaign is proposing. Such a proposal could further harm the child soldiers surrounding Kony, she told the Guardian.

    The U.N. official stressed the importance of reintegration programs, which include the provision of psychosocial counseling and livelihood training, and education. Coomaraswamy noted that while the United Nations and its partners have such programs in place, they are having trouble raising funds because of the economic crisis.

    “The Kony2012 campaign would have been perfect, we thought, if they had raised money for the reintegration of these children; that’s what we would prefer the funding go to,” Coomaraswamy said. “There is a life after being a child soldier if the right amount of help and support is given.”

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    • Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.