Reimagining Child Soldiers in International Law and Policy

Mark A. Drumbl

Washington and Lee University - School of Law

September 2, 2011

Washington & Lee Legal Studies Paper No. 2011-17

The international community undertakes considerable efforts to eradicate the scourge of child soldiering. Mostly, though, these efforts replay the same narratives and circulate the same assumptions.

This book takes a second look at these efforts. It aspires to refresh law and policy so as to improve preventative, restorative, rehabilitative, and remedial initiatives while also vivifying the dignity of youth. Along the way, it also questions central tenets of contemporary humanitarianism, rethinks elements of international criminal justice, and hopes to embolden the rights of the child.

This book:
• Challenges the perceived wisdom about child soldiers
• Argues that shortcomings arise when child soldiers generically are seen as passive victims, tools of war, and psychologically devastated
• Approaches child soldiers with a more nuanced and less judgmental mind
• Proposes that, in some cases, child soldiers should take responsibility for their conduct - not in criminal trials, but through traditional and restorative forms of justice

The organizational framework is straightforward. Chapter 1 (available herein) broaches the issues, sets out dominant assumptions, and provides an overview of the central arguments. Chapters 2 and 3 introduce a diversity of accounts of the realities of child soldiering that, to date, have been inadequately considered by international lawyers and policymakers. These Chapters are descriptive in that they present these accounts. They also are synthetic in that they interpretively distil common themes and, thereby, build a composite. These Chapters also are analytic in that they lay a foundation for the normative arguments that ensue. Chapters 4 and 5 transition the book to international law and policy. These Chapters respectively address two themes: first, accountability of child soldiers and, second, accountability for child soldiering. These Chapters examine law and policy as they are and, much more importantly, the direction in which both are heading. Chapters 6 and 7 then suggest a variety of reforms to the content and trajectory of law and policy in light of the complex realities of child soldiering.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 39

Keywords: International Law, War Crimes, Children and Youth, Criminal Justice

JEL Classification: K10, K 33

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Date posted: September 9, 2011 ; Last revised: November 15, 2011

Suggested Citation

Drumbl, Mark A., Reimagining Child Soldiers in International Law and Policy (September 2, 2011). Mark A. Drumbl, REIMAGINING CHILD SOLDIERS IN INTERNATIONAL LAW AND POLICY, Oxford University Press, February 2012; Washington & Lee Legal Studies Paper No. 2011-17. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1921527

Contact Information

Mark A. Drumbl (Contact Author)
Washington and Lee University - School of Law ( email )
Sydney Lewis Hall
Lexington, VA 24450
United States
540-458-8531 (Phone)
540-458-8488 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://law.wlu.edu/faculty/profiledetail.asp?id=11
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