Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2017.

Degree Name

Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL)


William O'Neill


The Great Lakes Region in Africa, is living today in constant insecurity and leadership instability for more than two decades. This situation affects the Congo and most of its neighboring countries in the East. This crisis gets its roots, among others, in the colonization since the “scramble for Africa” in 1885. This region has never experienced a long running period of political stability and peace. On the destructive colonizer’s method of “divide and conquer,” one could add ethnic conflict that led to horrible situations, including the genocide in Rwanda. From 1885 to 2006, year of the first peacefully elected government, the Congo was a private property of the Belgian King Léopold II, then a Belgian Colony. Few years after independence in 1960, for thirty-two years, it knew a long destructive dictatorship of Mobutu, followed by the most brutal civil war it ever knew that killed more than 6 million people and threw millions of other into exile. The current government is not better neither, it is marked by tension and mass violation of human rights without mercy. Today there are more than 50 armed groups active in the Eastern Congo involved in civilian violation and natural resources exploitation and trade, and thus, aggravating people’s social and economic vulnerability.

The most affected are women and children. One of the challenges and to which I focus in this study, is Child Recruitment and Use, turning the children into killing machines or instruments of violence and thus, exposing them to all kinds of hazard and disrupt their growth. Assaulting to children affects, not only the children but also their families and communities and so, the future. If we believe in human dignity and that a society that assaults its young members, though guarantee of the future, is likely to disappear, then countering this crime is a necessity. The need to protect children, future of the society and the most vulnerable of human society was felt since World War one. Laws and treaties have been adopted on international and local levels. But they have never succeeded to stop this crime. My study argues that ethically a new method that goes beyond the only language of rights, which moreover is limited, must be initiated. There is need to integrate to the language of rights, religious and African wisdom in drawing on themes such as imago dei, Solidarity, Love of neighbor, Ignatian method of Examen, Option for the poor, Ubuntu theology, etc. This integration grounds practical actions that could be initiated at all levels of life. It is only in doing so that one could get a sound and fitting response to Child Recruitment and Use and so ensuring the future.