Targeting Child Soldiers: Striking a Balance between Humanity and Military Necessity

in Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?



Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.



Help

Have Institutional Access?



Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



Connect

Children are often the victims of armed conflict. One way in which international law seeks to protect them is by prohibiting their recruitment as child soldiers. Once recruited, however, the question arises as to whether they may or should be targeted and killed in the same manner as an adult in the same position. In this respect, there is relatively little discussion as to what the law is, and – aside from a 2013 think-piece by Frédéric Mégret – even less about what the law should be. This article attempts to kick-start that debate. A survey of international law confirms that child combatants and participants in hostilities may be targeted in the same manner as adults. Mégret’s proposed reform, whereby child soldiers would only be targetable while participating in hostilities, is problematic, but child soldiers should arguably be entitled to some form of additional protection. As such, this article proposes that child soldiers under the age of 12 only be targetable in self-defence, a reform which would better balance the competing considerations of humanity and military necessity.

Sections

References

10

Garraway, supra note 4, at 502.

17

Shaw, supra note 3, at 74–75; Judgment, Case Concerning the Continental Shelf (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya v. Malta), icj, 3 June 1985, para. 27.

21

 See Roundtable, supra note 16, at 1321.

29

Shaw, supra note 3, at 77–78; Judgment, Case Concerning the Military and Paramilitary Activities in and Against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States), icj, 27 June 1986, at 98.

30

J. Huggler, ‘Sri Lankan army warns children can be targets’, The Independent (online), 16 August 2006, https://www.essex.ac.uk/armedcon/story_id/000398.html (last accessed 18 October 2015).

31

Roundtable, supra note 16, at 1342.

34

Huggler, supra note 30.

45

 See Vandewiele, supra note 42, at 53–54.

51

Fisseha, supra note 46, at 333; K. Abbott, ‘A Brief Overview of Legal Interoperability Challenges for nato arising from the Interrelationship between ihl and ihrl in Light of the European Convention on Human Rights’, 96(893) International Review of the Red Cross 107 (2014), at 112; M. Matthews, ‘The Interaction Between International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law: Seeking the Most Effective Protection for Civilians in Non-International Armed Conflicts’, 17 International Journal of Human Rights 633 (2013), at 637–638.

54

Matthews, supra note 51, at 638–639; Abbott, supra note 51, at 116; Cryer, supra note 52, at 514; P. Eden & M. Happold, ‘Symposium: The Relationship between International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law’, 14(3) Journal of Conflict & Security Law 441 (2010), at 442; D. Bethlehem, ‘The Relationship between International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law in Situations of Armed Conflict’, 2(2) Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law 186 (2013), at 187; M. Sassòli & L. Olson, ‘The Relationship Between International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law Where It Matters: Admissible Killing and Internment of Fighters in Non-International Armed Conflicts’, 90(871) International Review of the Red Cross 599, at 613.

57

Matthews, supra note 51, at 637.

60

Matthews, supra note 51, at 639–640; see also Bethlehem, supra note 54, at 190-191. The same principle applies to civilians who are directly participating in hostilities.

61

Abbott, supra note 51, at 122–123.

63

Matthews, supra note 51, at 635.

64

Falchetta, supra note 7, at 110; Matthews, supra note 51, at 635-636; Fisseha, supra note 46, at 337.

66

Falchetta, supra note 7, at 111.

69

 See Mégret, supra note 1, at 2.

70

Huggler, supra note 30.

71

 See Panel Discussion, supra note 6, at 118.

72

 See, e.g., M. Chulov, ‘Raid uncovers Al-Qaida network of child suicide bombers in Iraq’, The Guardian (online), 4 December 2008, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/dec/04/iraq-alqaida-network-child-bombers (last accessed 18 October 2015); U. Bacchi, ‘isis kidnaps 145 Kurdish children to ‘brainwash them into suicide bombing,’ International Business Times (online), 18 June 2014, http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/isis-kidnaps-145-kurdish-children-brainwash-them-into-suicide-bombing-1453199 (last accessed 18 October 2015); Human Rights Watch, ‘Nigeria: Boko Haram abducts women, recruits children’, Human Rights Watch (online), 29 November 2013, http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/11/29/nigeria-boko-haram-abducts-women-recruits-children (last accessed 18 October 2015); S.S. Nelson, ‘Disabled often carry out Afghan suicide missions’, National Public Radio (online), 15 October 2007, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15276485 (last accessed 18 October 2015); G. Therolf & N. Parker, ‘Suicide bombers had Down syndrome, photos show’, Sydney Morning Herald (online), 4 February 2008, http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/suicide-bombers-had-down-syndrome-photos-show/2008/02/03/1201973740744.html (last accessed 18 October 2015).

81

Happold, supra note 5, at 105; Falchetta, supra note 7, at 114.

82

Falchetta, supra note 7, at 113; Lubanga Trial Judgment, supra note 7, para. 628.

84

 See Falchetta, supra note 7, at 114, n. 12.

Information

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 14 14 12
Full Text Views 12 12 12
PDF Downloads 7 7 7
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0