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PO377 ETHNIC CONFLICT AND POLITICAL VIOLENCE Week 11: Child Soldiers.

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Presentation on theme: "PO377 ETHNIC CONFLICT AND POLITICAL VIOLENCE Week 11: Child Soldiers."— Presentation transcript:

1 PO377 ETHNIC CONFLICT AND POLITICAL VIOLENCE Week 11: Child Soldiers

2 Child Soldiers Introduction  In the recent past it has been estimated there are around 250, ,000 active child soldiers in the world, in both non-state and state military groups, but exact figures are very difficult to ascertain (Child Soldiers International (formerly Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers):  Most aged but some as young as 7-9.  Many girl soldiers as well as boy soldiers (possibly %) but girls are often overlooked in Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration programmes.  Most child soldiers say they enlisted voluntarily.

3 Child Soldiers Introduction (2)  UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989): a child/minor is a human being under age of 18. Optional Protocol to the Convention, on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (2000/2002): bans recruitment of minors by non-state armed groups and prohibits their participation in state and non-state armed hostilities. Conscription also banned under 18.  Paris Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups (2007): a child soldier is any person under the age of 18 recruited or used by any armed group (state or non-state), in whatever capacity and whether or not an armed conflict exists.  Nevertheless, child soldiers still exist and are for many a shocking figure.

4 Pull and Push Factors PULL FACTORS  Strategic need of armed group, esp. non-state, for greater number of troops. Child soldiers often used as cannon fodder.  Children may be seen as more docile and more malleable by the armed group.  Changing patterns of warfare affect children’s roles (as well as women’s).  Changing war technology – lighter weapons mean children today can carry them.

5 Pull and Push Factors (2) PUSH FACTORS  Many are forcibly conscripted, involving violence.  Others coerced through various pressures:  Threats against or pressure on the child’s family  Indoctrination of children by the armed group and/or significant adults  Financial incentives in context of poverty  Hope of social protection  Many say they joined voluntarily:  Revenge for attacks on their family or community  Sense of injustice, nationalist or political sentiment Can children ever truly volunteer to be soldiers??

6 Questions to Consider  In a context of war, where choices are so limited, can we speak of children ‘volunteering’ to become soldiers?  If they are under the international legal adult age of 18, what does their ‘consent’ mean?  How does the reality that the concept of ‘childhood’ is historically and culturally specific affect our views on child soldiers? (In many societies it is reaching certain personal or social milestones such as marrying that means one is considered adult, not a certain age.)  If we think there is a moral problem (or other problems?) with the use of child soldiers, how do we respond to this?

7 Some Other Resources Books (in addition to the reading list)  Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, (Personal account from Sierra Leone.) Extracts at: tml?_r=2&pagewanted=1&ref=magazine&oref=slogin tml?_r=2&pagewanted=1&ref=magazine&oref=slogin  China Keitetsi, Child Soldier, (Personal account from Northern Uganda.)  Els de Temmerman, Aboke Girls: Children Abducted in Northern Uganda, 2001.

8 Some Other Resources (2) Videos  Invisible Children (Northern Uganda): &q=invisible+children &q=invisible+children  A Duty to Protect: Justice for Child Soldiers in the DRC: &Itemid=178&task=view&alert_id=41 &Itemid=178&task=view&alert_id=41  Child Soldiers in Africa: udio.soldiers/frameset.exclude.html udio.soldiers/frameset.exclude.html

9 Images of Child Soldiers  Look at the pictures below of child soldiers from different countries and times. How do these images make you feel? Do you have different responses to different images? Can you try and disentangle your reactions and work out why you feel the way you do?

10 Afghanistan (left, 1986) and Yemen (right, 1964), from Cohn and Goodwin-Gill (1994) Child Soldiers: The Role of Children in Armed Conflict.

11 Sri Lanka (1990 – boys)

12 Sri Lanka (girls)

13 Cambodia (left, 1970s) and unknown (right)

14 Karen child soldiers in Burma/Myanmar (left, 2000 and right, 2001 – all are 12 years old)

15 Uganda (left) and Sudan (right)

16 Liberia

17 Democratic Republic of Congo

18 Sierra Leone


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