Militarisation of Youth

Our Countering the Militarisation of Youth programme identifies and challenges the many ways in which young people around the world are encouraged to accept the military and military values as normal, and worthy of their uncritical support. Militarisation is a process that goes far beyond overt recruitment. It includes the presence and influence of the armed forces in education, public military events such as parades and military-themed video games.

As part of our programme, we bring together a network of activists already working on countering youth militarisation in their own settings, and encourage more people to take action on these issues. Our activities with this aim include:

Antimili-youth.net

In August 2014 we launched a website specifically on the topic of youth militarisation. It's a place where you can add your own resources - to share documentation on how young people come into contact with the military, and how to challenge the militarisation of young people around the world. Find it here: http://www.antimili-youth.net

International Week of Action Against the Militarisation of Youth

In June 2013, we supported groups and individuals who took action as part of the first ever International Day of Action for Military-Free Education and Research, followed in 25 - 31 October 2014 by the first week of action for Military-Free Education and Research. Since 2015, WRI has been organising the International Week of Action Against the Militarisation of Youth with the participation of various groups from across the world via their autonomous actions and events. See the reports from 2015 here, and from 2016 here.

Sowing Seeds: The Militarisation of Youth and How to Counter

Following our international conference on Countering the Militarisation of Youth in Darmstadt, Germany, in June 2012, we published a book based on themes explored at the conference: Sowing Seeds: The Militarisation of Youth and How to Counter. It is available to purchase here in English, and available to read for free here.

Gender and Countering Youth Militarisation

In 2017, thanks to the support of the Network for Social Change, we have started a new project, Gender and Countering Youth Militarisation. As part of this project, we are going to organise a number of trainings with grassroots activists from across different countries, focusing on the role of gender in our campaigns against youth militarisation. The project will also include an online resource to be out in 2018, inquiring these issues further with contributions by activists and experts in the field.

 

In the Summer of 1979, after hearing of a mock nuclear bomb test was scheduled on Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod, Massachusetts USA, two preschool teachers entered the base. Once inside they went to the base child care center and passed out flyers to teachers and parents giving information on the effects of nuclear war on children. The teachers and parents were shocked and alarmed about the mock test but had been so busy trying to keep their own classrooms safe they were completely unaware of the test.

In April 2018, a group of 25 children participated in a bootcamp in Koprivnicko-krizevacka County, a training event organised by a local airsoft team (Airsoft is a team sport where opponents shoot each other with pellets from replica weapons). The training included a mix of orientation in nature, first aid skills and something called "homeland education". Children were photographed giving salutes and holding guns. The whole event was supported by representatives of the local government who praised the educational value of such activities.

12 February is the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers – also known as Red Hand Day. Many organisations and schools around the world have organised events to help raise awareness about the devastating practice of child recruitment and use which continues in multiple global conflicts.

On 26-28 May, activists from Greece, Israel, Russia, Turkey, and Cyprus (both south and north) gathered in Nicosia (Cyprus) for a 3-day training, Gender and Countering Youth Militarisation, organised by War Resisters' International. During the training, participants explored gendered dimensions of youth militarisation within their societies as well as discussing how to work internationally to counter these processes.

This month, activists from different European countries met in London as part of a WRI training on countering youth militarisation and its gendered dimensions. During the training, activists took part in various activities exploring how military values are promoted to young people, in which ways this militarisation is gendered, and how we can plan effective strategies countering these forces. Following the training, WRI also hosted a public forum on countering youth militarisation, joined by activists from the Czech Republic, Finland, Turkey and the UK.

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