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Country Watch

in dangerous conditions. Almost half of the Syr- ian refugee households in Jordan rely on a child’s income.

Children in Benin suffer from widespread abuse and exploitation, according to Najat Maalla M’jid who is the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography. A visit to the country revealed numerous instanc- es of infanticide, abductions, forced marriages, physical abuse, rape, and female genital mutila- tion. Benin lacks resources to properly implement and enforce legal frameworks that are in place to prevent such abuses.

Finally, in Sweden, Ombudsman for Children Fre- drik Malmberg called for a statewide ban on in- fant male circumcision in September 2013, claim- ing the practice violates the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.


Although children’s rights remains an issue throughout the world, the ratification of the Pro- tocol will, at first, only have limited effect. Initially, only children from countries that have ratified the Protocol will be able to submit complaints. Those countries are as follows: Albania, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Gabon, Germany, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and Thailand. Santos Pais said the UN and other organizations would keep promot- ing ratification of the Protocol by other member states.

* Submitted by Pinky Mehta

Philippines Signs Peace Accord with Muslim Rebel Group

In January 2014, the government of the Philip- pines reached a peace agreement with the coun- try’s largest Muslim insurgency group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, to end more than 40 years of intrastate violence. Most of the violence occurs in Mindanao, located in the southernmost part of the Philippines. Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, the autonomous Muslim-dom-

inated region will be granted broad local police powers and will retain taxes on local resources in the southern part of the predominately Christian country. In exchange, the Islamic militant groups will agree to disarm and join the national security forces.

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), a ma- jor militant group who opposes the agreement, signed a peace accord with the government in 1996. They claim that the new agreement en- croaches upon the autonomy they were previously granted in the 1996 peace accord, which allowed them to retain their arms; but this provision un- dermined the peace process and did little to end the violence. The MNLF was founded in 1968 to challenge Dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who used martial law, the arrest of opposition leaders, and military force to crush the insurgency.

The Philippines was also socially fragmented by several factors. The first factor was Marcos’ oust- er by the pro-democracy Corazon Aquino. The second factor was the growing communist New People’s Army (NPA), which was said to be the most brutal and inhuman army second only to the Cambodian Khmer Rouge. The third factor was a growing anti-Communist movement that operat- ed like a country within a country run by Roldolfo Aguinaldo. Aguinaldo called for the overthrow of Aquino for failure to respond to: the NPA; the fragmented Philippine army that could split in two at any time; the Muslim insurgency; the class di- visions; and the factionalism within and among various democratic parties.

Critics believe that the current peace agreement will follow in the footsteps of its predecessor un- less all the armed groups in Mindanao join. The critics’ concerns stem from a long history of U.S. colonization prior to independence and consis- tent U.S. involvement even today. The historical struggle in the Muslim south of the Philippines was related to oil in the Sulu Seas, where Ameri- can oil companies ear-marked areas for off-shore

ILSA Quarterly » volume 22 » issue 4 » May 2014

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