Child soldiers, who often appear to be both victims and perpetrators, present a vexing moral and legal challenge: how can we protect the rights of children while seeking justice for the victims of war crimes? There has been little stomach, either in domestic or international courts, for prosecuting child soldiers—but neither has this challenge been systematically addressed in international law. Establishing a uniform minimum age of criminal responsibility would be a major step in the right direction; we argue that such a standard ought to be guided by the best evidence from neuropsychology about the development, during childhood and adolescence, of executive functions that give rise to morally and legally responsible agents. In light of that evidence, which suggests that the brain’s executive functions are still maturing into early adulthood, we recommend a graded structure of culpability for child soldiers.
See e.g. Hirstein and Sifferdsupra note 26; Duff supra note 29; Morse supra note 30; Paul Litton ‘Is Psychological Research on Self-Control Relevant to Criminal Law?’ 11 Ohio State J. Crim L. (2014) 725–749; David O. Brink ‘Retributivism and Legal Moralism’ 25 Ratio Juris (2012) 496–512.; Nicole A. Vincent ‘On the Relevance of Neuroscience to Criminal Responsibility’ 4 Criminal Law and Philosophy (2010) 77–98.
Norval Morris‘The Future of Imprisonment: Toward a Punitive Philosophy’Michigan Law Review(1974) 1161–1180.