More than 11,000 child soldiers were freed from military slavery last year, but the United Nations believes hundreds of thousands around the world remain at the mercy of warlords like Thomas Lubanga.
Lubanga has been sentenced to 14 years in prison by the International Criminal Court for recruiting and using children as soldiers. the jail term is being hailed as an historic signal that using children will no longer be tolerated.
The UN believes hundreds of thousands of children are being forced to fight at gunpoint by the likes of the Taliban in Afghanistan, notorious Congo warlord Bosco Ntaganda, the Shebab in Somalia, Ansar Dine Mali and other terror groups and private armies around the world.
Under aged combatants have existed since time immemorial. Alexander the Great trained as a child soldier and desperate armies in both world wars enlisted and coerced youth fighters. But the practice has really only been the focus of world attention in the last 20 years.