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Why A Child Is Not A Soldier

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Chapter Summary

The issue of 'child soldiers' is one that, amongst many others, is of concern to those who hold the office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and judges of international criminal courts. This chapter explores the questions whether the term 'child soldier' is, in fact or in law, erroneous; and if its use would or could be detrimental to the protections international law demands be afforded to children. From a consideration of the cumulative effects of elements of both international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law, with respect to children, the term 'child soldier' is counterproductive to the very demands for protection of the child that those international legal instruments call for. The chapter also provides a definition of 'civilian' or 'civilian population', found in Article 50 of the First Additional Protocol of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949.

Keywords: child; civilian population; international humanitarian law (IHL); soldier



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