The Right to Protect Children under International Law: The Case of Child Soldiers

Enarda Cuni, Juelda Lamce


Currently, there are tens of thousands of child soldiers among the ranks of combatants in international and internal armed conflicts around the world. While many child soldiers commit heinous acts that constitute war crimes, the reality is that many child soldiers, especially the youngest of them, are war victims even as they perpetrate atrocities that shock the conscience of men. This article examines the plight of child soldiers and the collective duties of nations in their commitments under international law to protect the fundamental human rights of children subjected to conflict. The article will then look at the international law intended to protect children in conflict zones and what standards should be applied in determining how child soldiers should be treated, either as war criminals or as victims of conflict. Next, the article will look at the responsibility nations have to protect children from becoming combatants or being re- recruited into emerging armed conflicts, to prosecute those who use children as combatants; to help children in process of rehabilitation or reintegration; to educate the citizens about the plight of child soldiers and the factors that place children at risk of becoming child soldiers.

DOI: 10.5901/ajis.2013.v2n8p670

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Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies ISSN 2281 3993(Print) ISSN 2281-4612(Online)

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