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date: 07 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter addresses a particularly vulnerable population of children, namely, children associated with armed forces or armed groups. These children are colloquially known as child soldiers. This chapter begins by surveying the prevalence of child soldiering globally. It then sets out the considerable amount of international law that addresses children in armed conflict, in particular, the law that allocates responsibility for child soldiering and the law that sets out the responsibility of child soldiers for their conduct. The chapter identifies significant gaps between the law and the securing of positive outcomes for former child soldiers, notably when it comes to post-conflict reintegration. The protective impulse that envisions militarized youth as faultless passive victims may not always reflect how youthful fighters see themselves nor necessarily support an emancipatory and empowering vision of how international law should promote the rights of children.

Keywords: recruitment, enlistment, children, atrocity crimes, reintegration, DDR, children’s rights, child soldiers

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