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This book provides a critical exposition of the international law concerning child soldiers. It starts by looking at the situation of child soldiers in the world today, examining why children are recruited into armed forces and groups; why they volunteer for military service; and, once recruited, what treatment they receive. The book explores how perceptions of childhood and children's rights have changed, and how this has affected the ways in which child soldiers have been treated. It describes the activities of the United Nations with regard to the child soldier phenomenon. The book examines the legal regulation of the recruitment and use of children in hostilities. It shows that although international law comprehensively regulates the recruitment and use of child soldiers, owing to the plethora of treaties on the subject, states' obligations continue to differ and children can still lawfully be recruited and used to participate in armed conflict. The book discusses how, once recruited into armed forces and groups, international law treats child soldiers. It considers the status of child soldiers as combatants and as persons in the power of an adverse party in both international and internal armed conflicts, and states' obligations with regard the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of child soldiers. An unusual feature of how child soldiers are viewed is that they are often seen as both victims of human rights abuses and as human rights violators. Finally, the book examines the extent to which the recruitment and use of child soldiers is an international crime.

Introduction
Matthew Happold

In recent years, the participation of children in armed conflict has become an issue of international concern. There are a large number of child soldiers in the world today and it is believed that their number is growing. Pictures of children toting AK-47s in various conflicts around the globe have appeared on television and in our newspapers. Child soldiers have been stereotyped as either feral children, amoral and

in Child soldiers in international law
Conclusions
Matthew Happold

, the prohibition of the compulsory and forcible recruitment of children may be becoming a rule of customary international law. There is a substantial body of rules governing the recruitment and treatment of child soldiers, and they have been the subject of considerable augementation and development in recent years. It must, however, be asked whether they have been effective, that is, to what extent do

in Child soldiers in international law
Matthew Happold

selectivity. The United Nations (UN) has tended to consider the issue of child soldiers as a part of the broader issue of war-affected children. Here, the latter issue will be dealt with only insofar as it illuminates the former. The beginnings of UN involvement All the advances highlighted by the Secretary-General have been made in a comparatively short time. Following the coming into

in Child soldiers in international law
Matthew Happold

‘J’ai été officier à l’âge de seize ans, quinze jours’ 1 Introduction Children have always participated in armed conflicts. For most of history, Napoleon’s admission would have been seen as giving rise to no moral conundrum. Over the past few decades, however, the recruitment and use of child soldiers has become a matter of increasing international

in Child soldiers in international law
Matthew Happold

Introduction The last three chapters have shown how international law has sought to prevent or, at least, restrict the participation of children in armed conflict. However, although, as we have seen, the rules restricting the recruitment and use of child soldiers are plentiful and comprehensive, they are by no means always observed. Consequently, the question arises of how

in Child soldiers in international law
Matthew Happold

Recruitment as a child soldier as a basis for refugee status Children often wish to avoid recruitment into armed forces and groups, and child soldiers often face harsh treatment from their commanders and comrades. They may seek to flee such recruitment or treatment; leaving their country and travelling abroad. The question is: in such circumstances, can they found a

in Child soldiers in international law
Matthew Happold

Introduction Having considered in the previous chapter the criminality of those who recruit and use child soldiers, in this chapter we will consider the circumstances in which child soldiers themselves might be held criminally responsible for their actions. Child soldiers often act in an undisciplined manner, and the use of child soldiers to commit atrocities is a real

in Child soldiers in international law
Matthew Happold

International Criminal Court, the ICC Prosecutor, Mr Luis Moreno-Ocampo, reported that he had selected the situation in Ituri in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as the first situation meriting analysis with a view to commencing a formal investigation. 2 In a description of the atrocities being committed in Ituri, the Prosecutor made specific reference to the recruitment and use of child soldiers, stating that: ‘Between

in Child soldiers in international law
A Congolese Experience
Justine Brabant

their history or their demands, or to explain the power relationships between the different groups and the logic behind the violence they were engaged in. Two of the most common ‘hooks’ I found were the rapes they were suspected of committing and the child soldiers they were reported to have among their ranks. Twenty-eight per cent (16/58) of the pieces by special correspondents to eastern DRC that I examined for my thesis on the Mai-Mai mentioned rape. The issues of

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs