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Child Soldiers

Child Soldiers in the Civil War in Sierra Leone

Citation:

Zack-Williams, Tunde. 2001. “Child Soldiers in the Civil War in Sierra Leone.” Review of African Political Economy 28 (87): 73-82.

Author: Tunde Zack-Williams

Abstract:

This article examines the factors which have brought children into social movements challenging those wielding political power in Sierra Leone. It reviews the manner of their recruitment and the roles they have played in the civil war. The analysis is premised on the notion that peripheral capitalism has transformed the form of the family, loosening controls over children. With ongoing crises in both the economic and political realms undermining kinship structures and leaving children with little security, some have turned to surrogate families for protection, either on the street or in the ranks of combatants. Although some of the children who have participated in the war have been volunteers, thousands more have been abducted and socialised via brute violence by both sides.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Boys, Violence Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2001

Child Soldiers, Peace Education, and Postconflict Reconstruction for Peace

Citation:

Wessells, Michael. 2005. “Child Soldiers, Peace Education, and Postconflict Reconstruction for Peace.” Theory Into Practice 44 (4): 363-69.

Author: Michael Wessells

Abstract:

Worldwide, children are drawn into lives as soldiers and terrorism as the result of forced recruitment and also by extremist ideologies and their inability to obtain security, food, power, prestige, education, and positive life options through civilian means. Using an example from Sierra Leone, this article shows that peace education is an essential element in a holistic approach to the reintegration of former child soldiers and to the prevention of youth's engagement in violence and terrorism. In the post-conflict context, effective peace education has a stronger practical than didactic focus, and it stimulates empathy, cooperation, reconciliation, and community processes for handling conflict in a nonviolent manner. These processes play a key role also in the prevention of children's engagement in violence and terrorism.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, DDR, Education, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Terrorism, Violence Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2005

Post-conflict Reintegration and Gender: Why Male Child Soldiers Have Been Denied Sexual and Reproductive Health Assistance in Post-conflict Societies?

Citation:

Ackley, Judith M. 2009. “Post-conflict Reintegration and Gender: Why Male Child Soldiers Have Been Denied Sexual and Reproductive Health Assistance in Post-conflict Societies?” PhD Diss., Webster University.

Author: Judith M. Ackley

Abstract:

In analyzing five of the most recent civil conflicts in Africa, civilians are in great danger. The targeting of civilians, specifically women and children, has increased dramatically for various reasons. This has led to a rapid expansion of conflict and post-conflict research in two fields: child soldiers and gender. The research on the issue of child soldiers has expanded as quickly as the number of children recruited every year. The same is true with respect to the field of gender. Presently, experts incorporate a gender-based approach to address the causes of and solutions to problems created by armed conflict. As the definition of gender has evolved, it has expanded to the political, economic, and social realms of societies. An engendered approach to post-conflict reconstruction has worked to ensure the inclusion of women and girls and recently men. Still, when discussing an engendered approach to post-conflict health, specifically sexual and reproductive health, the definition of gender has forgotten boys. Post-conflict programs should be expanded to make policy and theory into reality and action.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, Child Soldiers, DDR, Gender, Boys, Health, Reproductive Health, Humanitarian Assistance, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Africa

Year: 2009

Victims of Modern Warfare: Girl Child Soldiers

Citation:

Cutchin, Claudine, and Adena Rivas. 2009. “Victims of Modern Warfare: Girl Child Soldiers.” Journal for the Liberal Arts and Sciences 14 (1): 133-44.

Authors: Claudine Cutchin, Adena Rivas

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

Year: 2009

Girl Soldiers and Participation in Hostilities

Citation:

Quénivet, Noëlle. 2008. “Girl Soldiers and Participation in Hostilities.” African Journal of International and Comparative Law 16 (2): 219–35.

Author: Noëlle Quénivet

Abstract:

Recently, organisations working with former child soldiers have observed the growing number of girls involved in armed conflicts. While their fate as sexual slaves is well documented, their participation in hostilities is less acknowledged. Girls, like boys, spy, loot, and kill, but they also cook, clean, and run camps. International humanitarian law, human rights law and international criminal law ban the participation of children in armed conflicts. However, the interpretation of the expression ‘participation in hostilities’ leaves open the possibility that the activities carried out by girls do not fall within the purview of this prohibition, and that, hence, their recruiters are not breaching the aforementioned legal norms.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, Gender, Girls, International Law, International Criminal Law, International Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law IHL, Sexual Violence, Sexual Slavery

Year: 2008

Scratching the Surface: A Comparison of Girl Soldiers from Three Geographic Regions of the World

Citation:

Spellings, Carolyn R. 2008. “Scratching the Surface: A Comparison of Girl Soldiers from Three Geographic Regions of the World.” International Education 38 (1): 14–39.

Author: Carolyn R. Spellings

Abstract:

Over 300,000 children are estimated to be conscripted participants in  conflicts throughout the world. Depending on the particular armed group that employs child soldiers, girls represent 6 to 50% of child soldiers. Despite this prevalence of involvement, the experience of girls as soldiers in war and political conflict has rarely been investigated. In order to build a foundation for more focused study on girl soldier experiences, this literature review aims to provide a comprehensive report of girl soldiers throughout the world. The analysis focused on three aspects of conflict experience: (1) how girls become affiliated with armed groups; (2) their experiences while associated with armed groups; and (3) the effects of participation in war. Particular attention was given to whether girls' experiences vary across geographic area. Generally, in African conflicts (e.g., Sierra Leone and northern Uganda) girls become affiliated with armed groups through abduction. Often, they experience sexual abuse and, as a result, are stigmatized by their families and communities when they return home. In contrast, in the Americas (e.g., Colombia and El Salvador) and in Indonesia/South Pacific (e.g., Philippines and Sri Lanka) girls become involved as an escape from unpleasant home lives. These girls are less likely to experience sexual abuse, and do not experience the same stigmatization from families and communities. Often these girls are taught a skill, such as nursing, while with an armed group but are unable to find job opportunities post-war using their newly acquired skill. The apparent variations in girls' experiences in armed conflict have implications for both research and application in helping focus attention on the conflict-specific aspects of girls' experiences. In some regions both research and applied efforts need to focus on the effects and treatment of sexual abuse, whereas in other conflicts, time and resources would be better spent at understanding and promoting female integration into the post-conflict occupational sphere.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

Year: 2008

You'll Learn Not to Cry: Child Combatants in Colombia

Citation:

Brett, Sebastian. 2003. You’ll Learn Not to Cry: Child Combatants in Colombia. New York: Human Rights Watch.

Author: Sebastian Brett

Abstract:

More than 11,000 children fight in Colombia's armed conflict, one of the highest totals in the world. Both guerrilla and paramilitary forces rely on child combatants, who have committed atrocities and are even made to execute other children who try to desert. The first comprehensive report published on this issue, "You'll Learn Not to Cry" documents how Colombia's illegal armies have recruited increasing numbers of children in recent years. Only Burma (Myanmar) and the Democratic Republic of Congo are believed to have significantly larger numbers of child combatants than Colombia. The 150-page book, based on interviews with 112 former child combatants, documents how both guerrillas and paramilitaries exploit the desperation of poor children in rural combat zones. Many join up for food or physical protection, to escape domestic violence, or because of promises of money. Some are coerced to join at gunpoint, or join out of fear. Others are street children with nowhere to go. Children as young as thirteen are trained to use assault rifles, grenades and mortars. Human Rights Watch urged guerrilla and paramilitary forces to end all recruitment of children under the age of eighteen and to demobilize the children in their ranks. Pending complete demobilization, the group urged the following immediate and unconditional steps: firmly prohibit forcible recruitment; allow those who wish to leave without reprisals; cease executions of children; and provide proper medical care for the sick or wounded. (Human Rights Watch)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Domestic Violence, Gender, Girls, Boys, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Paramilitaries Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2003

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

Citation:

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

Author: David J. Francis

Abstract:

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, International Law, International Criminal Law, International Organizations, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, War Crimes, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa

Year: 2007

Why We Cannot Find the Hidden Girl Soldier: A Study of Professional Attitudes Towards Gender Analysis in International Conflict and Development Work

Citation:

Kays, Lisa. 2005. “Why We Cannot Find the Hidden Girl Soldier: A Study of Professional Attitudes Towards Gender Analysis in International Conflict and Development Work.” Peace, Conflict, and Development, no. 6: 1–26.

Author: Lisa Kays

Abstract:

Girls’ experiences in combat are not as well understood as boys’. International development and relief projects focus on boy soldiers, though many girls are combatants and have experiences that are not addressed through boy-centred programmes.

To explore the potential influence of development professionals’ attitudes on implementation of gender mainstreaming in such programmes, eight individuals who work at an NGO that does international conflict resolution and development work—were surveyed about their knowledge of and attitudes towards gender analysis and their feelings about a proposal for assisting child soldiers in Africa created and submitted by their organisation with their input.

The results of the self-assessment of the professionals are then compared with the gender analysis executed within the proposal, to determine if the self-assessment is accurate.

The surveys indicate that professionals often may not fully understand gender analysis, and therefore do not account for girl child soldiers—negatively impacting the effectiveness of their efforts. Based on these findings, recommendations for remedying this trend within conflict and development NGOs are offered.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, Development, Gender, Girls, Gender Analysis, Gender Mainstreaming, NGOs

Year: 2005

Reaching the Girls: Study on Girls Associated with Armed Forces and Groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Citation:

Verhey, Beth. 2004. Reaching the Girls: Study on Girls Associated with Armed Forces and Groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo. London: Save the Children UK.

Author: Beth Verhey

Abstract:

This study analyses the situation of girls associated with armed forces and groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In particular, this study seeks to understand why girls are not reached by the efforts to gain the release of children associated with armed groups in DRC and to support their reintegration. Indeed, it is widely acknowledged by child protection organisations globally that knowledge about the involvement of girls in armed groups, and how to support their particular needs in reintegration efforts, is insufficient. Undertaken as a partnership between four international non- governmental organisations (NGOs), Save the Children UK and the NGO Group of CARE, IFESH and IRC, the study featured two months of in-depth fieldwork covering the five Provinces of Eastern DRC -- Maniema, North Katanga, North and South Kivu and Orientale.

Topics: Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender, Girls, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-state Armed Groups Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2004

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