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).”

Join the Conversation   

* required field

By submitting a comment here you grant GameFront a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate or irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin's discretion.

13 Comments on Protesters March on Ubisoft's Alleged U.N. Protocols Violation Over America's Army

Buddy "Tough" Love

On August 6, 2008 at 5:50 pm

Actually, they have a pretty damn strong point. This could be a problem…

Norbit

On August 6, 2008 at 6:28 pm

They do have an interesting point. They are saying the military are basically grooming people for enlistment who are under enlistment age by training and ‘militarizing’ them with the game.

Shawn Sines

On August 6, 2008 at 7:38 pm

So America’s Army militarizes people but CoD4 doesn’t? I’m speaking from experience when I say America’s Army is nothing like actual military service and it does not prepare anyone for military service.

I fell its false logic that we see applied to a lot of discussions about entertainment forms – especially gaming. Why would AA be any more a converter than say Left 4 Dead or Battlefield?

Handshakes

On August 6, 2008 at 7:39 pm

So when did advertizing for the military become illegal? I must have missed that.

Handisnacks

On August 6, 2008 at 8:33 pm

Uh, Call of Duty 4 is rated M, moron. Christ almighty you people are idiots. These protesters have a grade-A point here. The America’s Army game SHOULD be rated M, not T.

The military has always tried to brainwash young folks though since the draft disappeared, this shouldn’t be news to anyone.

Cichalid420

On August 6, 2008 at 8:43 pm

GTFO! If AA made people want to join the Army they already considered the military as a career option. Socom didn’t make me want to join the Navy but it is and awesome game.

NinjaMuffin

On August 6, 2008 at 9:15 pm

man do these people have nothing better to do its just a ing game

erathoniel

On August 7, 2008 at 6:47 am

Battlefield: Bad Company is “T”. Doesn’t it do this also? What about Battlefield 2? Battlefield 1942 was practically a recruitment poster.

So, how do these fall in. The America’s Army game is rated T because it doesn’t have graphic content, but you do have to say you’re 18 to play it.

erathoniel

On August 7, 2008 at 6:49 am

Also, shall I point out, that people under 17 are not given a uniform and a gun and sent out to fight. Or do they not care?

Norbit

On August 7, 2008 at 7:50 am

If Americas Army was simply a game there would be no problem but it isn’t. I think a lot of the people responding to this really haven’t though it through by comparing this to other games :roll:

Americas Army is an official recruitment tool, COD and the other titles mentioned aren’t. They exist purely for entertainment not to groom people into becoming soldiers.

The entire purpose of Americas Army’s existence is to recruit people and as such its essentially the start of their military training. That’s where the problem lies. Kids as young as 13 are essentially being trained and groomed by stealth by the US Army.

That is a fact. Whether it breaks any laws or conventions is highly debatable and I personally don’t believe it does however it IS morally corrupt.

Shawn Sines

On August 7, 2008 at 8:17 am

@Norbit: Ok, I understand your position but its not a same/same training method any more than Wii Sports baseball is like real baseball. Does it glorify military training? possibly.. is it a recruiting tool? Admittedly. Why shouldn’t the Army be able to recruit young men and women who are interested in military service? Its the same argument that has been made for years that games are training people to kill.. murder simulators if you will..

Ii would argue that AA is also entertainment.. I don’t know of a single person I’ve met who joined the service because of a video game so I guess as a recruitment tool its pretty flawed.. as an awareness tool it seems to be doing the same job as the other games.

Personally I think if it encourages a young person to take the oath to serve to protect and defend their country this is a good thing. Excusing the politics of the current president and congress, why is encouraging national service a negative? Being a soldier is not something that makes you a killer.. that’s Vietnam era hippie logic.

ManOfTeal

On August 7, 2008 at 10:43 am

Captain obvious says, “The game is clearly endosred by Uncle Sam himself, one would be ignorant to think that there is no military propaganda involved.”

As to whether or not the game targets 13 year olds….and by that right this game, to a typical 13 year old, should be the same as playing any other first person shooter. Plus you cannot join the armed forces until you are at least 18 years old and by that time you should be mature enough to make your own decisions. And I would hope that a logically thinking individual would not base a life decision on what they experienced in a video game.

Go Marlins!!!!

Hamilton

On August 8, 2008 at 11:24 am

I really enjoy the discussion that encourages you to go and investigate for yourself.

Let’s pass on the real motivations of the protesters and whether or not the military should advertise itself to those under 18 just for a moment and talk about the “law” the protesters say the U.S. government is violating.

The very first thing that bothered me was the terminology “optional protocol”. How many laws are “optional”? Well the U.N. defines that phrase for us on its website: A protocol is ‘optional’ because it is not automatically binding on States that have already ratified the original treaty; States must independently ratify or accede to a protocol.

http://www.unicef.org/crc/files/Definitions.pdf

The U.S. did sign and ratify it several years later (under the present administration) with no reservations (http://www.unhchr.ch/pdf/report.pdf). If you click the link, notice how many and which countries did NOT sign and ratify the protocol – the actual meaning of which is an order to States to not arm and force children (under 18) into hostilties.

Very few Middle Eastern (including Iran, Iraq, & Israel) countries signed it (at least by 2004) and I think it’s fair to say many (perhaps most) “third world” countries did not, esp. those in Africa – where children are routinely used in armed conflicts in some areas.

So the “law” written to keep children out of armed conflicts was pretty much only signed by those countries who do not use children in armed conflicts or think they will never need to (looking at you here Israel).

ATTENTION ALL THOSE WHO FEEL RAPE IS WRONG!! PLEASE SIGN THIS PIECE OF PAPER STATING YOU WILL NOT RAPE. YOU WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FORTHWITH! everbody else who like to rape, or think they might, go about your raping – have a nice day :wink:

And always read the fine print. The “S” means they signed it but never ratified (that means “approved” kids) it – for example, Russia.

Those 20 protesters in SF would have done far more good for humanity and impressed me morally had they gone to any of the non-signatory countries’ embassies or consolates and protested, particularly those with a history of arming children. Instead, they basically threw on America and protested an out-of-date video game. Rah ing rah! Power to the people! Yeah!

To finish this blog o’mine on a humorous note, you have to love the Brits. Here’s their addendum to the protocol: The United Kingdom understands that article 1 of the Optional Protocol would not exclude the deployment of members of its armed forces under the age of 18 to take a direct part in hostilities where: – a) there is a genuine military need to deploy their unit or ship to an area in which hostilities are taking place;

http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/treaty17.htm

For you special ed students, that means “we’re agreeing to not send children into armed conflict unless we need to”. :twisted: