Seminar: Children affected by organized armed violence
September 9, 2002
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

All last week, international specialists on children and armed violence gathered in Rio de Janeiro to attend and discuss a seminar on Children Affected by Organized Armed Violence, organized by Viva Rio and ISER. The main focus of the series of meetings was to debate groundbreaking research Child Combatants in Organized Armed Violence: a study of children and adolescents involved in territorial drug faction disputes in Rio de Janeiro, and plan collective action in other parts of the world where children suffer from this problem.

Among the results of the study is this startling fact: the number of young people under 18 years of age who die in gun-related violence in Rio de Janeiro state is greater than in some regions of the world that are currently at war. In the Israel-Palestine armed conflict, for example, 467 minors died as a result of gun-related violence between 1987 and 2001, while 3,937 young people were killed by firearms in the same period in the state of Rio alone.

The research highlights striking similarities between the lives of children working for Rio de Janeiro’s drug factions and ‘child soldiers’ participating in armed conflicts. While the latter situation can be treated under existing international treaties and by relevant agencies, the former has not yet been categorically analyzed and cannot be suitably characterized by traditionally accepted definitions, such as war, armed conflict, child soldiers and crime. This debate is crucial to understanding the problem so that it may be recognized at the local and international levels, and addressed with effective strategies.

The research was coordinated by Luke Dowdney, researcher at ISER/Viva Rio. Luke also coordinates the project Fight for Peace, a program that offers alternatives to children and adolescents affected by or involved in crime and armed violence. For more information, or for a report of the conclusions of the seminar, please contact

The full text of the report in Portuguese is available online at www.desarme.orgThe English version will be up by the end of this week.








Return to World Council of Churches and Microdisarment page