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 UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in New York on Red Hand Day. They were given to him by adolescents from four different continents. Mr. Bank Ki Moon 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 Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict; Claude Heller, the chairperson UN Security Council; and Ann Veneman, 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 Federal President Horst Köhler, 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 Red Hand Campaign was initiated in Germany. Within one year, the campaign turned into a worldwide movement, including countries in which children are used as soldiers, such as India, Columbia, Philippines, Pakistan and 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. On an international level, the campaign was organized by terre des hommes in collaboration with Human Rights Watch, in Germany in collaboration with Aktion Weißes Friedensband and Kindernothilfe. Worldwide, numerous organizations, small and large, support the campaign; for example Child Soldiers International, World Vision, Amnesty International, Plan, Pax Christi and UNICEF.

National Coalitions against the use of child soldiers are playing an important role, among others in Columbia, the Philippines, Belgium, the USA and Germany.