Is Targeting Naked Child Soldiers a War Crime?

In: International Criminal Law Review

International law prohibits the recruitment and use of children under the age of fifteen to participate actively in hostilities. Such child soldiers constitute military targets under international humanitarian law (ihl), and the prevailing view is that they may be targeted in the same way as their adult counterparts. Although there may be moral or pragmatic reasons for avoiding targeting child soldiers if possible, there is no obligation under international law to treat them differently from an adult fighter.

  • 6

    Happold, supra note 4, pp. 4–5; Drumbl, supra note 2, pp. 27–35.

  • 11

    Vinci, supra note 9, p. 371. See also Prof. Dr. Desirée Verweij, ‘Moral Professionalism and Child Soldiers’, in The Research and Technology Organisation (rto) of nato, Child Soldiers as the Opposing Force, Final Report of the hfm-159/rto Task Group, ac/323(hfm-159)tp/222, January 2011 (hereafter ‘nato Report’) pp. 3–5.

  • 21

    McMahan, supra note 18, p. 35.

  • 24

    McMahan, supra note 17, pp. 201–202; McMahan, supra note 18, p. 36.

  • 31

    Ben-Ari, supra note 26, pp. 4-9–4-10.

  • 45

    Happold, supra note 4.

  • 70

    Kleffner, ibid., p. 330; Boothby, supra note 65, p. 151.

  • 73

    Kleffner, supra note 69, p. 331; see Article 51(3), Additional Protocol i and Article 13(3) Additional Protocol ii.

  • 74

    Garraway, supra note 65, p. 176; icrc Guidance, supra note 66, p. 28.

  • 75

    Kleffner, supra note 69, p. 332.

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