America’s Army in Violation of International Law?


According to Michael B. Reagan at the ACLU has published a report that finds that the United States Army is in violation of the UN Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.

Basically the Optional Protocol says that militaries are not allowed to recruit to or deploy anyone under the age of 17. The US senate ratified the Optional Protocol in late 2002.

Mr. Reagan’s article is kind of long-winded and tedious but it does make a good point. That is the Army and the game’s developers intentionally toned down the violence in the game to achieve a T for Teen rating from the ESRB and put it in the hands of more people, specifically younger people, even more specifically boys aged 13 and up.

Considering the ESRB has an M for Mature rating that limits purchasers to those aged 17 and older it looks like the US Army may have intentionally over stepped international law. However, the original game was released in August of 2002, 3 months before the US ratification of the Optional Protocol. Every subsequent release has fallen under the jurisdiction of the Optional Protocol which means the Army may have been ignoring international law with the development and distribution of these games.

Given that America’s Army is an unapologetic, blatant recruitment tool this seems like a very cut and dry case. The ACLU report (which outlines more violations) was presented to the UN this May and the US didn’t so much get a slap on the wrist as a wag of the finger.

Of course the next incarnation of America’s Army could very well be an M rated game which would resolve this issue succinctly and produce a more realistic game. Everyone’s a winner!

You can view Mr. Reagan’s article here and the ACLU report here.

What does everyone else think about the Army specifically targeting children as young as 13 for potential future recruitment?