Child Soldiers: Legal and Military Challenges in Confronting a Global Phenomenon

8 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2011

Date Written: 2005


Book note re: Children at War by Peter W. Singer (New York: Pantheon, 2005).

"Over the last decade, the existence of child soldiers has been brought to light through a barrage of graphic international news agency articles and human rights reports. Usually, these materials only identify sporadic and often sensationalized cases. What has been less forthcoming is a deeper understanding of what P.W. Singer calls the “child-soldier doctrine”: a calculated and pervasive strategy by armed groups to use children as combatants. Children at War is an admirable effort at making this daunting topic accessible to a wider public policy audience, and it provides an interesting non-legal primer on this topic for practitioners of international humanitarian law. However, the book’s insufficient treatment of important legal aspects of the child soldier issue is disappointing given that effective criminal prosecutions are a necessary element to confronting this challenge. In addition, stepped-up prosecutorial activity at the international level has taken place since Singer completed this text, and it also warrants attention."

Keywords: Child soldiers, Human rights, Child Soldier Doctrine, International humanitarian law

Suggested Citation

Perrin, Benjamin, Child Soldiers: Legal and Military Challenges in Confronting a Global Phenomenon (2005). McGill Law Journal, Vol. 50, p. 687-694, 2005. Available at SSRN:

Benjamin Perrin (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia ( email )

1822 East Mall
Vancouver V6T 1Z1, British Columbia V6T 1Z1
(604) 822-1208 (Phone)
(604) 822-8108 (Fax)


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