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Child Soldiers

No Place to Hide: Refugees, Displaced Persons, and the Recruitment of Child Soldiers

Citation:

Achvarina, Vera, and Simon F. Reich. 2006. “No Place to Hide: Refugees, Displaced Persons, and the Recruitment of Child Soldiers.” International Security 31 (1): 127–64.

Authors: Vera Achvarina, Simon F. Reich

Abstract:

The global number of child soldiers has grown significantly in the last two decades despite a series of protocols designed to curb this trend. They are generally employed in wars where belligerents spend more time attacking civilian populations than fighting professional armies. Used by both governments and rebel groups, child soldiers epitomize many of the problems associated with states at risk: intergenerational violence, poverty, and the failure of efforts to instill the rule of war. Both scholars in security studies and policymakers have largely regarded child soldier recruitment as a humanitarian issue. But recent events have linked child soldiering to insurgency and terrorism, suggesting that this issue is also developing a security dimension. This article examines contrasting arguments about the causes of child soldiering. Using data drawn from nineteen African conflicts, the authors argue that the major explanation for the significant variation in the percentage of child soldiers recruited is the degree of protection against abduction provided by governments and external actors to camps housing internally displaced persons and refugees.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Displacement & Migration, IDPs, Refugees, Refugee/IDP Camps, Economies, Poverty, Gender, Girls, Boys, Security, Terrorism, Violence Regions: Africa

Year: 2006

The Special Court for Sierra Leone, Child Soldiers, and Forced Marriage: Providing Clarity or Confusion

Citation:

Oosterveld, Valerie. 2007. “The Special Court for Sierra Leone, Child Soldiers, and Forced Marriage: Providing Clarity or Confusion.” Canadian Yearbook of International Law 45: 131.

Author: Valerie Oosterveld

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2007

Crimes Against Child Soldiers in Armed Conflict Situations: Application and Limits of International Humanitarian Law

Citation:

Wells, Sarah L. 2004. “Crimes Against Child Soldiers in Armed Conflict Situations: Application and Limits of International Humanitarian Law.” Tulane Journal of International and Comparative Law 12: 287-305.

Author: Sarah L. Wells

Abstract:

This article examines the application of international humanitarian law to crimes committed against child soildiers during the ten-year civil war in Sierra Leone. The author suggests that while historically, developments in international law took account of the vulnerability of children in wartime, international humanitarian law maintains that dated categories of protection do not reflect conditions of modern armed conflicts. The author argues that, instead, the experiences of child soldiers suggest that international legal prohibitions on the involvement of children in combat provide vastly inadequate legal protection. The author relies in this respect on research on crimes committed against child combatants in Sierra Leone and the limitations of international humanitarian law in relation to the prosecution of those crimes. The author argues that in order to remain relevant and effective, new developments in the field of international humanitarian law must address dated and inaccurate distinctions, which act to preclude needed legal protection of those among the most vulnerable in wartime. 

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, International Law, International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2004

‘Other Inhumane Acts’: Forced Marriage, Girl Soldiers and the Special Court for Sierra Leone

Citation:

Park, Augustine S. J. 2006. “‘Other Inhumane Acts’: Forced Marriage, Girl Soldiers and the Special Court for Sierra Leone.” Social & Legal Studies 15 (3): 315–37.

 

Author: Augustine S. J. Park

Abstract:

The decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone gained international notoriety for the widespread use of child soldiers, and the sexual abuse and ‘forced’ marriage of girl soldiers. For the first time in international legal history, ‘forced marriage’ is being prosecuted as a ‘crime against humanity’ in Sierra Leone’s post-conflict ‘Special Court’. This represents an important step in advancing the human rights of girls, and follows a growing trend in international criminal prosecution of gender offences. Notwithstanding the significance of this indictment, international law is no panacea for the deeper inequalities and vulnerabilities that girls experience in peacetime and in wartime. This article advocates a specific focus on girls, who are often ‘disappeared’ under discourses of children and women. Moreover, using recommendations from Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, this article attempts to point to social and economic inequalities that must be addressed alongside criminal prosecution of gendered crimes against humanity.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, Gender, Girls, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, Crimes against Humanity, International Tribunals & Special Courts, TRCs, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, SV against Women Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2006

The Civil War That Was Fought by Children: Understanding the Role of Child Combatants in El Salvador’s Civil War, 1980-1992

Citation:

Courtney, Jocelyn. 2010. “The Civil War That Was Fought by Children: Understanding the Role of Child Combatants in El Salvador’s Civil War, 1980-1992.” Journal of Military History 74 (2):523-56.

Author: Jocelyn Courtney

Abstract:

From 1980 to 1992, the Salvadoran government and the Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation (FMLN) fought each other in a civil conflict that devastated El Salvador, killing 75,000 people and leaving thousands more homeless or injured. Over 80 percent of the government's troops and over 20 percent of the FMLN's were under eighteen years of age; however, thus far, historians have missed the centrality of the role of children in this conflict. This article explores the legacy of both sides' reliance on child soldiers and examines the costs of child soldiering in terms of demobilization issues and postwar societal problems.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Post-Conflict Regions: Americas, Central America Countries: El Salvador

Year: 2010

Girl Soldiers and Human Rights: Lessons from Angola, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Northern Uganda

Citation:

Denov, Myriam. 2008. “Girl Soldiers and Human Rights: Lessons from Angola, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Northern Uganda.” International Journal of Human Rights 12 (5): 813–36.

Author: Myriam Denov

Abstract:

The issue of child soldiers has become an issue of global concern. More than 250,000 soldiers under the age of 18 are fighting in conflicts in over 40 countries around the world. While there is ample descriptive evidence of the conditions and factors underlying the rise of child soldiery in the developing world, most of the literature has portrayed this as a uniquely male phenomenon, ultimately neglecting the experiences and perspectives of girls within fighting forces. Drawing upon the findings of three studies funded by the Canadian International Development Agency's Child Protection Research Fund, this paper traces the perspectives and experiences of girls as victims and participants of violence and armed conflict in Angola, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, and Northern Uganda. The three studies collectively reveal three salient themes. First, whether in the heat of conflict or within post-war programming, girls are, for the most part, rendered invisible and marginalised. Second, in spite of this profound invisibility and marginalisation, girls are fundamental to the war machine—their operational contributions are integral and critical to the overall functioning of armed groups. Third, girls in fighting forces contend with overwhelming experiences of victimisation, perpetration, and insecurity. In the aftermath of conflict, girls arguably bear a form of secondary victimisation through socio-economic marginalisation and exclusion, as well as the ongoing threats to their health and personal security.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Health, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups, Rights, Human Rights, Security, Human Security, Violence Regions: Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Angola, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Uganda

Year: 2008

Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict

Citation:

Leatherman, Janie. 2011. Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict. Cambridge: Polity.

Author: Janie Leatherman

Annotation:

Summary: 
This book offers a comprehensive analysis of the causes, consequences and responses to sexual violence in contemporary armed conflict. It explores the function and effect of wartime sexual violence and examines the conditions that make women  and girls most vulnerable to these acts both before, during and after conflict. To understand the motivations of the men (and occasionally women) who perpetrate this violence, the book analyzes the role played by systemic and situational factors such as patriarchy and militarized masculinity. Difficult questions of accountability are tackled; in particular, the case of child soldiers, who often suffer a double victimization when forced to commit sexual atrocities. The book concludes by looking at strategies of prevention and protection as well as new programs being set up on the ground to support the rehabilitation of survivors and their communities. Sexual violence in war has long been a taboo subject but, as this book shows, new and courageous steps are at last being taken at both local and international level - to end what has been called the “greatest silence in history.” (Summary from Amazon) 

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Women, Girls, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarism, Militarization, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence

Year: 2011

Marginalization of girl mothers during reintegration from armed groups in Sierra Leone

Citation:

Burman, Mary, and Suzan McKay. 2007. “Marginalization of girl mothers during reintegration from armed groups in Sierra Leone.” International Nursing Review 54 (4): 316-23.

Authors: Mary Burman, Suzan McKay

Abstract:

BACKGROUND: Although the widespread presence of girls who participate in fighting forces is increasingly recognized, they remain a highly marginalized group globally, receiving little attention either during or after armed conflict. This is especially true for "girl mothers," girls who return to communities with children born while members of fighting forces.

AIM: The concept of marginalization (Hall et al. 1994) is used to examine what happens to girl soldiers, especially girl mothers, in the aftermath of armed conflict when they seek to reintegrate back into their communities.

METHODS: This analysis, as part of a larger study of reintegration of girl mothers, is based on field work with girls who were in fighting forces in northwest Sierra Leone, especially those who returned with children.

FINDINGS: The type and level of marginalization these girls experience is consistent with the conceptualization of marginalization; however, they lack voice and experience shame and vulnerability. Moreover, economics were fundamentally related to their marginalization. The girls' access to resources was significantly constrained because the area was heavily impacted by the war and because of widespread poverty throughout Sierra Leone.

DISCUSSION: The findings raise important questions about marginalization of girls affected by war. Girls and girl mothers experience an extremely high level of marginalization; however, some aspects are not consistent with the original conceptualization of marginalization. Theory development in nursing needs to incorporate multiple voices, especially those of the very marginalized and be done in such a manner that benefits and empowers.

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

Year: 2007

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

Year: 2005

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