Matthew Happold
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The legal regulation of the recruitment and use of children in hostilities
Customary international law and non-state actors
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General customary international law applies to all states, so any such rules would constitute a minimum standard of behaviour below which states could not fall without being in breach of their international obligations regardless of which treaties they were party. In addition, many of the recruiters of child soldiers are not state governments but non-state groups. Since 1989, not only has there been a number of new treaties covering children's recruitment and use in hostilities, but the issue has been dealt with extensively by the political organs of the UN. In Prosecutor v. Samuel Hinga Norman, the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, while addressing the issue of at what time child recruitment became a war crime, also considered the customary status of the rule prohibiting the recruitment and use of children under 15 to participate actively in hostilities.

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