1994 is the International Year of the Family, and debates about the rights of the child are once again at the top of the national and international legal and political agenda. Yet in places of armed conflict all over the world tens of thousands of children are recruited to fight in bloody conflicts, and their rights are systematically ignored and abused. In this path-breaking study, Professor Goodwin-Gill and Dr Cohn assess the status of the Child Soldier in international law and highlight the ways in which international humanitarian law fails to provide effective protection, particularly in the internal conflicts which are the most common battlefields today. Based upon empirical data gathered from places of conflict all over the world, the authors examine the consequences for child soldiers, their families and community of their participation in armed conflict. They conclude their study with practical suggestions for preventing recruitment, and call for a more coherent policy of treatment for those children who have participated in acts of violence.
This report, on behalf of the Henri Dunant Institute, in Geneva, is a timely and much-needed contribution to a growing debate about the role of children in armed conflict.