Protesters March on Ubisoft's Alleged U.N. Protocols Violation Over America's Army
A group of political activists, Direct Action to Stop the War, is taking their protests to the streets over Ubisoft’s America’s Army game. On the Direct Action website the party accuses the U.S. Army of recruiting teens and condemns the videogame for violating international law.
“America’s Army” is a game developed by the U.S. military to instruct players in “Army values,” portray the army in a positive light, and increase potential recruits. The “game” is the property and brainchild of the US Army, which admit freely, and with pride, that it is one of their principal recruitment tools. The game has been granted a “teen” rating, allowing 13 year olds to play.
The military recruitment of children under the age of 17, however, is a clear violation of international law (the U.N. Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict). No attempt to recruit children 13-16 is allowed in the United States, pursuant to treaty. In May, the American Civil Liberties Union published a report that found the armed services regularly target children under 17 for military recruitment. The report highlighted the role of “America’s Army,” saying the Army uses the game to “attract young potential recruits . . . train them to use weapons, and engage in virtual combat and other military missions”, adding that the game “explicitly targets boys 13 and older.”
The game is having an effect. An informal study showed that 4 out of 100 new recruits in Ft. Benning, Georgia credit America’s Army as the primary factor in convincing them to join the military.
Direct Action is marching today to raise awareness of these alleged violation of human rights.
Ubisoft is not the only South Park neighbor engaged in the development of the game, Gameloft is working on the cell phone application and Secret Level was a designer on the 2005 Xbox version… This August 6, on the 63rd Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, come out and ask the producers and developers of America’s Army to stop helping the Army recruit children.
According to GamePolitics, Direct Action sent a letter of protest to Ubisoft CEO Laurent Detoc. The group claims that Detoc sent them a response indicating that Ubisoft will no longer be producing America’s Army.
Ubisoft has already planned not to make any further games of America’s Army, that they may announce that decision in the future and he discouraged us from continuing our Hiroshima Day action… If Ubisoft’s claims are true, why have they not publicly announced the end of the work for the Army’s recruitment videogame, and why have they not ended their contract with Army, set to expire in 2015?
The organization claims that the game violates United Nations protocol and international law, specifically the U.N. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
Having read up on the protocol in question, I wonder whether Direct Action bothered to read it themselves. The U.N. optional protocol states that “conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years or using them to participate actively in hostilities in both international and non-international armed conflicts” is a warcrime. The protocol also has specific guidelines for governments that allow children under the age of 18 to voluntarily opt for recruitment.
States Parties that permit voluntary recruitment into their national armed forces under the age of 18 years shall maintain safeguards to ensure, as a minimum, that:
(a) Such recruitment is genuinely voluntary;
(b) Such recruitment is carried out with the informed consent of the person’s parents or legal guardians;
(c) Such persons are fully informed of the duties involved in such military service;
(d) Such persons provide reliable proof of age prior to acceptance into national military service.
As stated in 10 Steps to Joining the Military on Military.com, “You must be at least 17 years old (17-year old applicants require parental consent).”