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Engaging or Shaming? An Analysis of UN’s Naming and Shaming of Child Abusers in Armed Conflict

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The impact of armed conflict on children has been recognized for some time as a major humanitarian problem. In 1999, the United Nations (UN) Security Council began taking up the abuse of children during armed conflict as a regular thematic issue. As part of the protective framework, the UN adopted a “strategy” of “naming and shaming” government forces and rebel groups recruiting, killing, maiming, raping or other sexual abusing of children during conflict. The philosophical justification of the public exposures is premised on the supposed stigmatic and deterrent effect on named and shamed offenders. However, little analysis has gone into the impact of this UN policy. This paper has the modest aim of assessing the UN’s naming and shaming practice since inception of the policy in 2002. The efficacy of shaming sanctions is contestable. The recent UN annual statistics on the exposed parties do not seem to evince a convincing causal link between of naming and shaming and adherence to international humanitarian law and international human rights law, particularly among armed non-State groups (ANSAs) so far. Naming and shaming represents an antagonistic modus operandi. This paper argues that humanitarian engagement with ANSAs offers a non-confrontational and corrective approach and thus greater promise for compliance and protection of children during armed conflict than naming and shaming.

Affiliations: 1: PhD candidate, Department of Business and Law, De Montfort University, Leicester. MA Mass Communications (University of Leicester) LLM International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (with distinction) (Lancaster University),


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