Child soldiers in international law

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Matthew Happold
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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.

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