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Child Soldiers in the Age of Fractured States

Edited by Scott Gates and Simon Reich

Publication Year: 2010

Current global estimates of children engaged in warfare range from 200,000 to 300,000. Children's roles in conflict range from armed and active participants to spies, cooks, messengers, and sex slaves.This volume examines the factors that contribute to the use of children in war, the effects of war upon children, and the perpetual cycle of warfare that engulfs many of the world's poorest nations.The contributors seek to eliminate myths of historic or culture-based violence, and instead look to common traits of chronic poverty and vulnerable populations. Individual essays examine topics such as: the legal and ethical aspects of child soldiering; internal UN debates over enforcement of child protection policies; economic factors; increased access to small arms; displaced populations; resource endowments; forced government conscription; rebel-enforced quota systems; motivational techniques employed in recruiting children; and the role of girls in conflict.The contributors also offer viable policies to reduce the recruitment of child soldiers such as the protection of refugee camps by outside forces, “naming and shaming,” and criminal prosecution by international tribunals. Finally, they focus on ways to reintegrate former child soldiers into civil society in the aftermath of war.

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press

Series: The Security Continuum: Global Politics in the Modern Age

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

Part I. Overview

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pp. 1

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pp. 3-13

Although this volume focuses on child soldiers, it is not limited to children brandishing a gun. It also examines the roles of children, many of whom are preadolescent, linked to armed groups with a variety of functions. As such, child soldiers work as spies, cooks, porters, messengers, sex slaves, and, indeed, as both armed...

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Chapter 1. Methodological Problems in the Study of Child Soldiers

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pp. 14-23

Child soldiers may be the most depressing topic in the field of international conflict, and the elimination of child soldiering is a completely laudable goal. But the methodological principles promoting good scholarship are still crucial. A more...

Part II. Ethical, Legal, and International Dimensions

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pp. 25

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Chapter 2. An Ethical Perspective on Child Soldiers

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pp. 27-36

Moral philosophy obviously has nothing to say about the urgent practical problem of preventing unscrupulous recruiters from forcing children to fight their unjust wars for them. That is a question of political and legal policy on which philosophers have no special competence to pronounce. But the problem of child soldiers does have a normative dimension and raises questions that philosophers are specially...

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Chapter 3. The Evolution of the United Nations ’Protection Agenda for Children: Applying International Standards

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pp. 37-51

The horrors that are being visited on children in the context of war is a blight on the conscience of humankind. Today, in so many of the conflicts around the globe, children are being brutalized in unimaginable ways. Not only are civilians, particularly children, women, and the elderly, increasingly the primary targets and victims of atrocities, but children are also becoming some of the worst...

Part III. Alternative Explanation of Child Recruitment

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pp. 53

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Chapter 4. No Place to Hide: Refugees, Displaced Persons, and Child Soldier Recruits

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pp. 55-76

Reports of Taliban recruitment of children as insurgents and possible suicide bombers surfaced in the U.S. media in August 2005 (CNN 2005). Estimates at the time suggested that the insurgent forces in Afghanistan may have comprised up to 8,000 children (IRIN 2003a). To many in the West, this was a surprising revelation...

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Chapter 5. Recruiting Children for Armed Conflict

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pp. 77-92

Data on child recruitment in sub-Saharan Africa collected by Achvarina and Reich (2006) and Becker’s comparison of Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Burma in this volume demonstrate that the proportion of child soldiers varies considerably from one group to another. A wide variety of case studies from around the world also suggests...

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Chapter 6. The Enablers of War: Causal Factors behind the Child Soldier Phenomenon

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pp. 93-107

While warfare has long been the domain of adults, juveniles have been present in armies in a number of instances in the past. For example, young pages armed the knights of the Middle Ages and drummer boys marched before Napoleonic armies. Child soldiers even fought in the U.S. Civil War, most notably when a unit of 247 Virginia Military Institute cadets...

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Chapter 7. Child Recruitment in Burma , Sri Lanka, and Nepal

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pp. 108-120

The number of child soldiers in Asia is second only to that in Africa. Although precise figures are impossible to establish, the number of child soldiers in the region is likely to exceed 75,000. Child soldiers have participated in several of the region’s ongoing armed conflicts, including those in Afghanistan, Burma, the Philippines...

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Chapter 8. Organizing Minors: The Case of Colombia

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pp. 121-140

Practitioners and researchers have thoroughly examined an ample set of push factors that cause minors to join nonstate armed organizations in Colombia, ranging from poverty to the provision of weapons. Pull factors and the interaction between push and pull, however, also play a crucial role. Prima facie...

Part IV. Empirical Assessments of Child Soldiers

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pp. 141

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Chapter 9. War, Displacement, and the Recruitment of Child Soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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pp. 143-159

Displacement is one of the most common products of violent conflict. When weighing the risks posed by civil war, many people decide that their best chance of safety lies elsewhere. Sometimes the chaos and destruction of war arrives so suddenly that families become separated—children flee from school, farmers...

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Chapter 10. Disaggregating the Causal Factors Unique to Child Soldiering: The Case of Liberia

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pp. 160-182

With a contemporary international focus on the issue of employing child soldiers in inter- and intrastate conflicts, a new area of research for academics has opened to identify and quantify the causal factors attributable to the practice. While the practice of employing children in combat, both in direct actions and supporting...

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Chapter 11. Girls in Armed Forces and Groups in Angola: Implications for Ethical Research and Reintegration

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pp. 183-199

One of the most significant violations of human rights is the recruitment of children, defined under international law as people under eighteen years of age, into armed forces such as national armies or armed groups such as the opposition groups that fight government forces in more than twenty countries (CSUCS 2004a, 13). This violation...

Part V. Policies to Stop the Recruitment of Child Soldiers

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pp. 201

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Chapter 12. National Policies to Prevent the Recruitment of Child Soldiers

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pp. 203-222

Child soldiers live in a grim world of violence and deprivation that largely exists outside of international and national laws. Because the actions required to prevent child soldier recruitment are diverse, prevention policies should include a variety of intersectoral and integrated approaches, especially for education and training, in the broadest and most flexible sense.1 The recruitment of child soldiers...

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Chapter 13. Wise Investments in Future Neighbors: Recruitment Deterrence, Human Agency, and Education

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pp. 223-241

Human security is emerging as a sophisticated and compelling strategy to address the extreme problems of children in contemporary wars. The child soldier is increasingly seen as an icon of new wars—transformed from a young person into a weapon (Kaldor 1999). Whether as members of local militias or as suicide...

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Chapter 14. Ending the Scourge of Child Soldiering: An Indirect Approach

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pp. 242-246

Peter Singer, the most-cited contemporary analyst writing on child soldiers, has claimed that the practice of child soldiering has dramatically increased because the global norm against the use of children in war—what he calls “the single greatest taboo of all”—has dramatically eroded. In “the chaos and callousness of modern-day warfare,” he argues, this norm...

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Conclusion. Children and Human Security

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pp. 247-254

Children have always been part of war, yet they constitute an understudied dimension of human security. In this regard, our volume contributes to the shift in focus away from traditional notions of national defense toward what former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan described as “the protection of communities and individuals from internal violence” (Human Security Center 2005). Focusing...


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pp. 255-272


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pp. 273-294


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pp. 295-296


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pp. 297-309

E-ISBN-13: 9780822973591
E-ISBN-10: 0822973596
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822960294
Print-ISBN-10: 082296029X

Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: The Security Continuum: Global Politics in the Modern Age