Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version


Towards a Gender-Inclusive Definition of Child Soldiers: The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga


Gallagher, Kristin. 2010. “Towards a Gender-Inclusive Definition of Child Soldiers: The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga.” Eyes on the ICC 7: 115–36.

Author: Kristin Gallagher


This article addresses the importance of the first case before the International Criminal Court through the lens of gender analysis. While the charges against the defendant in The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo are limited to conscripting and enlisting child soldiers and using them actively in hostilities, the case has huge precedential value because it will be the first decided before the International Criminal Court. This article argues for a broad interpretation of the law so that female child soldiers receive protection and recognition under the law.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Boys, Gender Analysis, International Law, International Criminal Law Regions: Africa

Year: 2010

'Paper Protection' Mechanisms: Child Soldiers and the International Protection of Children in Africa's Conflict Zones


Francis, David J. 2007. “‘Paper Protection’ Mechanisms: Child Soldiers and the International Protection of Children in Africa’s Conflict Zones.” The Journal of Modern African Studies 45 (2): 207–31.

Author: David J. Francis


The arrest and prosecution in March 2006 of the former Liberian warlord-President Charles Taylor by the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, for war crimes including the recruitment and use of child soldiers, and the arrest and prosecution of the Congolese warlord, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, by the International Criminal Court, accused of enlisting child soldiers in the DRC war, have raised expectations that finally international conventions and customary international laws protecting children in conflict zones will now have enforcement powers. But why has it taken so long to protect children in conflict situations despite the volume of international treaties and conventions? What do we know about the phenomenon of child soldiering, and why are children still routinely recruited and used in Africa's bloody wars? This article argues that against the background of unfolding events relating to prosecution for enlistment of child soldiers, the international community is beginning to wake up to the challenge of enforcing its numerous 'paper protection' instruments for the protection of children. However, a range of challenges still pose serious threats to the implementation and enforcement of the international conventions protecting children. Extensive research fieldwork in Liberia and Sierra Leone over three years reveals that the application of the restrictive and Western-centric definition and construction of a 'child' and 'childhood' raises inherent difficulties in the African context. In addition, most war-torn and post-conflict African societies are faced with the challenge of incorporating international customary laws into their domestic laws. The failure of the international community to enforce its standards on child soldiers also has to do with the politics of ratification of international treaties, in particular the fear by African governments of setting dangerous precedents, since they are also culpable of recruitment and use of child soldiers.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Boys, International Law, International Criminal Law Regions: Africa

Year: 2007

Kindergarten Killers: Morality, Murder and the Child Soldier Problem


Faulkner, Frank. 2001. “Kindergarten Killers: Morality, Murder and the Child Soldier Problem.” Third World Quarterly 22 (4): 491–504.

Author: Frank Faulkner


The argument advanced refers to the problem of children serving as soldiers in various military or quasi-military groups around the world. It looks to international law for guidelines on how this situation might be brought to an end, examining legislation currently in force, and also why enforcement has proved to be problematical. Given the apparent inadequacies of legal instruments to prevent this type of issue occurring, this article takes a closer examination of the conditions that create underage combatants, together with analysis of the effects this has on the young people involved. In support of these observations, the text offers a real world look at the problem in Sierra Leone, a country that has suffered years of divisive internecine warfare featuring the extensive use of children in combat roles. In a postwar situation, the study includes analysis of the difficulties of rehabilitating Sierra Leonian children traumatised by combat experiences, which reflects on the larger dilemma of national reconciliation and peace building.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Boys, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2001

The Problem of Child Soldiers


Druba, Volker. 2002. “The Problem of Child Soldiers.” International Review of Education / Internationale Zeitschrift Für Erziehungswissenschaft / Revue Internationale de l’Education 48 (3): 271–77.

Author: Volker Druba

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Boys

Year: 2002

Gender, Responsibility, and the Grey Zone: Considerations for Transitional Justice


Baines, Erin. 2011. “Gender, Responsibility, and the Grey Zone: Considerations for Transitional Justice.” Journal of Human Rights 10 (4): 477-93.

Author: Erin Baines


The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has forcibly recruited tens of thousands of youth from northern Uganda, Southern Sudan, and more presently the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. The longer that abducted youth spend inside the armed group, the more likely they will assume positions of command. These roles are differentiated on the basis of sex and gender expectations: young men are more likely to become active combatants and young women are more likely to become forced “wives” and mothers. As a result, forcibly recruited male and female youth are assumed to hold different degrees of responsibility. Comparing the life stories of an abducted male and female youth who became LRA commanders, I argue that each made choices within a state of coerced militarized masculinity. The question of responsibility must be located in the context of a present-day grey zone, and must unsettle gendered assumptions about men and women, and guilt and innocence. Transitional justice has only begun to grapple with the ambiguity of gender, responsibility, and the grey zone.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Boys, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Justice, Transitional Justice, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Uganda

Year: 2011

Microcredit Extension in the Wake of Conflict: Rebuilding the Lives and Livelihoods of Women and Children Affected by War


Avery, Lisa. 2005. “Microcredit Extension in the Wake of Conflict: Rebuilding the Lives and Livelihoods of Women and Children Affected by War." Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy 12 (2): 205.

Author: Lisa Avery

Topics: Armed Conflict, Economies, Gender, Women, Girls, Boys, Livelihoods, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction

Year: 2005

How Conflict and Displacement Fuel Human Trafficking and Abuse of Vulnerable Groups. The Case of Colombia and Opportunities for Real Action and Innovative Solutions


Nagle, Luz Estella. 2013. “How Conflict and Displacement Fuel Human Trafficking and Abuse of Vulnerable Groups. The Case of Colombia and Opportunities for Real Action and Innovative Solutions.” Groningen Journal of International Law 1 (2): 1-53.

Author: Luz Estella Nagle


Disaffected, impoverished, and displaced people in weak and failing states are particularly vulnerable. Human trafficking exploits social and political turmoil caused by natural disasters, economic crisis, and armed conflict. The exploitation and forced servitude of millions of trafficking victims take many forms. Women and children are trafficked into becoming child soldiers and concubines of illegal armed groups, men, women and children are trafficked into forced labor and sexual slavery, forced to sell drugs, steal, and beg money for the criminals controlling them, and thousands are coerced or forced into a growing black market trade in human body parts. The growth in illegal mining operations by illegal armed groups and organized crime is also fueling conditions for forced labor. Trafficking victims are dehumanized and suffer grave physical and mental illness and often die at the hands of their captors and exploiters. Colombia is particularly afflicted by the scourge of human trafficking. All the elements of modern-day slavery and human exploitation are present in this Latin American state that is struggling to overcome decades of internal armed conflict, social fragmentation, poverty, and the constant debilitating presence of organized crime and corruption. Women’s Link Worldwide recently reported that human trafficking is not viewed as an internal problem among Colombian officials, despite estimates that more than 70,000 people are trafficked within Colombia each year. This article examines human trafficking in its many forms in Colombia, the parties involved in trafficking, and the State’s response or lack of response to human trafficking. The article also presents innovations that might be effective for combating human trafficking, and proposes that Colombia can serve as an effective model for other countries to address this growing domestic and international human rights catastrophe.

Keywords: Colombia, human trafficking, trafficking of women and children



“Of the estimated 70,000 Colombian women and children who fall prey to human trafficking each year, many enter one of about 560 trafficking pipelines within Colombia, and about 254 of trafficking pipelines out of Colombia into Ecuador and Venezuela, and into Europe (Spain, Germany and Holland), Asia (China, Japan, and Singapore), North America and Central America, and the Middle East (particularly Jordan and Iran).” (26)

“Coincidentally, [the county/district] Sucumbios encompasses most of the 30 crossing points for weapons smuggling, drug trafficking and human trafficking, and establishes the link between the products trafficked and the routes used to transport different types of illicit goods and trafficking victims.” (28)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Corruption, Displacement & Migration, Economies, Poverty, Gender, Women, Girls, Boys, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, Sexual Slavery, Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2013

Unrecognized Victims: Sexual Violence Against Men in Conflict Settings Under International Law


Lewis, Dustin A. 2009. “Unrecognized Victims: Sexual Violence against Men in Conflict Settings under International Law.” Wisconsin International Law Journal 27: 1–50.

Author: Dustin A. Lewis


This article casts light on the international law aspects of a largely unrecognized occurrence in armed conflict: sexual violence against men. The article discusses causes and consequences of such violence, and assesses pertinent aspects of international law. The article argues that, to reduce and prevent sexual violence against men in conflict settings, international law should be interpreted, applied, and enforced in ways that delegitimize the prejudicial and discriminatory conceptions of gender, sex, and (homo)sexuality that often fuel such violence in the first place. Toward this aim, the article highlights why it is necessary to use a definition of sexual violence that encompasses, among other things, violence targeting an individual's imputed, perceived, or actual sexuality. In addition, the article provides a prosecution roadmap, sketching the conventional and jurisprudential standards for sexual violence to be prosecuted as a constituent element of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The article concludes by suggesting two additional ways to enhance protection: treaty drafters should explicitly recognize men as a class of victims, and a postulated jus cogens norm should be expanded to include all forms of sexual violence against men, women, and children.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Men, Boys, Genocide, International Law, Justice, Crimes against Humanity, War Crimes, Sexual Violence, SV against men, Sexuality

Year: 2009



Hepburn, Stephanie, and Rita J. Simon. 2013. HUMAN TRAFFICKING AROUND THE WORLD: HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT. New York: Columbia University Press.

Authors: Stephanie Hepburn, Rita J. Simon


An examination of human trafficking around the world including the following countries: United States, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Colombia, Iraq, Syria, Canada, Italy, France, Iran, India, Niger, China, South Africa, Australia, United Kingdom, Chile, Germany, Poland, Mexico, Russia, and Brazil. (WorldCat)


Table of Contents:


Part I: Work Visa Loopholes for Traffickers
1) United States
2) Japan
3) United Arab Emirates

Part II: Stateless Persons
4) Thailand
5) Israel & The Occupied Palestinian Territories

Part III: Unrest, displacement, and Who is in charge
6) Colombia
7) Iraq
8) Syria

Part IV: Conflation
9) Canada

Part V: Conflicting Agendas
10) Italy
11) France

Part VI: Gender Apartheid
12) Iran

Part VII: Social Hierarchy
13) India
14) Niger
15) China

Part VIII: Muti Murder
16) South Africa

Part IX: Hard-to-Prove Criterion and a slap on the wrist
17) Australia
18) United Kingdom
19) Chile
20) Germany

Part X: Transparent borders
21) Poland

Part XI: Fear Factor
22) Mexico

Part XII: Poverty and Economic Boom
23) Russia
24) Brazil


*Each Chapter follows the following format with some variations:

As a destination
Internal trafficking
Trafficking abroad
What happens to victims after trafficking
What happens to traffickers
Internal efforts to decrease trafficking



"Devestation from a natural disaster...creates a sudden high demand for low-wage and largely unskilled labor. Disruption of the traditional labor supply leaves room for illicit contractors to move in, and new workers can be brought in unnoticed." (19)

"There continue to be more criminal convictions of sex traffickers than of forced-labor traffickers [However, this number of individuals victimized by forced labor may be increasing]." (32)

"Many experts state that the yakuza (organized crime) networks play a significant role in the smuggling and subsequent debt bondage of women--particularly women from China, Thailand, and Colombia--for forced prostitution in Japan. Determining the exact extent of yakuza involvement is difficult because of the covert nature of the sex industry. Consequently, the yakuza are able to minimize people's direct knowledge of their involvement...The yakuza networks work with organized crime groups from other nations, such as China, Russia, and Colombia." (49-50)

Topics: Economies, Gender, Women, Men, Girls, Boys, International Law, International Human Rights, Multi-national Corporations, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Sexual Slavery, Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Labor Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Regions: Africa, West Africa, Americas, Central America, North America, South America, Asia, East Asia, Middle East, Southeast Asia, Europe, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Oceania Countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Niger, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories, Poland, Russian Federation, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America

Year: 2013

Girl Soldiers: Towards a Gendered Understanding of Wartimes Recruitment, Participation, and Demobilisation


Denov, Myriam, and Alexandra Ricard-Guay. 2013. “Girl Soldiers: Towards a Gendered Understanding of Wartimes Recruitment, Participation, and Demobilisation.” Gender & Development 21 (3): 473–88. doi:10.1080/13552074.2013.846605.

Authors: Myriam Denov, Alexandra Ricard-Guay


Scholarship on political violence and armed conflict has long been gender-blind. Often subsumed within the category of ‘children’ (who are assumed to be male in the context of soldiery), girl soldiers have been subjected to a double invisibility. However, in the last decade the literature dedicated to the topic of girls within armed groups has grown. We now have a much clearer understanding of girls’ strengths and challenges, and clear evidence of their overall marginalisation both during wartime violence and following demobilisation. What is now needed is to implement what we have learnt, to support girls in the aftermath of violence, particularly in the long term. This article seeks to provide an overview of what is known about girl soldiers. It explores their entry into armed groups, and their multiple roles and wartime experiences, as well as their experiences of demobilisation and reintegration. To support the points raised, we highlight the voices and experiences of nine former girl soldiers from Colombia, and eight former girl soldiers from Sierra Leone, who were interviewed in 2010 and 2011. The realities of girls affected by armed conflict vary in different contexts, yet there are similarities. Girls’ options, roles, power relations, both during conflict and following demobilisation, are embedded within broader gendered power structures and identities.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Boys, Gendered Power Relations, Post-Conflict

Year: 2013


© 2019 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at

Subscribe to RSS - Boys