Matthew Happold
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The legal treatment of child soldiers
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The provisions governing the treatment of children in the power of an adverse party in an international armed conflict are extensive. Similar, if more rudimentary, provisions apply to children captured in internal armed conflicts. Child soldiers, particularly those who have been illegally recruited, would seem to fall into the category of victims of neglect, exploitation, abuse, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and/or armed conflict. The Machel report pointed out that as of the date of its compilation no peace agreement had formally recognised the existence of child combatants. The Government shall accord particular attention to the issue of child soldiers. It shall, accordingly, mobilize resources, both within the country and from the International Community, and especially through the Office of the UN Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, UNICEF and other agencies, to address the special needs of these children in the existing disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes.

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