Red Hand Day, February 12 each year, is an annual commemoration day on which pleas are made to political leaders and events are staged around the world to draw attention to the fates of child soldiers, children who are forced to serve as soldiers in wars and armed conflicts. The aim of Red Hand Day is to call for action against this practice, and support for children who are affected by it. Children have been used repeatedly as soldiers in recent years including armed conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan, Côte d'Ivoire, Myanmar, Philippines, Colombia, and Palestine. Estimates on the number of children engaging in armed conflict around the world show no change between 2006 and 2009. Rehabilitation for child-soldiers returned to their communities ranges from inadequate to non-existent.
Red Hand Day was initiated in 2002 when the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict entered into force on February 12, 2002. This protocol was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in May 2000 and currently has signatures from over 100 different states. A number of international organizations are active against the use of children as soldiers. These organizations include, for example, the United Nations Child Fund (UNICEF), Amnesty International, Terre des Hommes or the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
The work of these organizations can be summarized by the acronym DDR: Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration.