Red hand prints of politicians and celebrities

Hundreds and thousands of red hand prints from more than 50 countries during the last years – this is the astonishing result of Red Hand Campaign. A ceremonial highlight was the handing over of a collection of red hand prints from all over the world to the then UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in New York on Red Hand Day. They were given to him by adolescents from four different continents. The UN Secretary General promised in front of more than 100 guests – among them UN ambassadors from more than 40 countries: "I will do everything in my power to improve the situation of child soldiers worldwide."

Also the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, the chairperson of the UN Security Council working group and the chairperson of Unicef, thanked the deliverers of the red hand prints, they held speeches and joined Ban Ki Moon in making hand prints themselves. The same day, there was a ceremonial handing over in several countries, for example in Germany to the Federal President, who received more than 50 boxes with red hand prints. Thus, the Red Hand Campaign had achieved an important goal: to protest in front of most powerful politicians against the use of over 250,000 child soldiers in the world.

The first red-hand actions took place on the day the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on Children in Armed Conflict came into force on 12.2.2002, for example in Bangladesh and at the United Nations in Geneva in Switzerland. These actions were carried out by the child rights organization terre des hommes and five other human rights organizations that had joined together in the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. This coalition had initiated and enforced the Optional Protocol. Within a short time, the Red Hand Day became a movement around the globe, including countries in which children are used as soldiers, such as India, Columbia, Philippines, Pakistan and D.R. Congo, where more than tens of thousands of prints were collected. Often the collection campaigns were accompanied by Red Hand demonstrations. Politicians, scientists and touched people were invited and took part in the discussions at these demonstrations. Campaigns were done at music and film festivals, at city festivals, at school parties, at tent camps and at conferences, at auctions and at sport events. Furthermore, donations for child soldiers care projects were collected. The international campaign was organized by terre des hommes in collaboration with Human Rights Watch and the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, in Germany by terre des hommes in collaboration with Aktion Weißes Friedensband and Kindernothilfe. Worldwide, numerous organizations, small and large, support the campaign, for example the Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, Amnesty International, World Vision, Quaker, Save the Children, Pax Christi, UNICEF.

National Coalitions against the use of child soldiers are playing an important role, among others in Colombia (Coalico), the Philippines, the USA and Germany (German Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers).