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The immoral legality of targeting child soldiers: A humanitarian dilemma
Swedish Defence University.
2023 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The thesis functions as an overview of the protection of children used in hostilities and their targetability under international law, primarly in international humanitarian law. The author questions the established presumption, that children directly participating in hostilities, shall be equally targetable as their adult colleges and counter parts. In times of conflicts, international humanitarian law offers children a special protection status. The prohibition against recruitment and use of children under the age of 15 illustrates two of the most relevant protective regimes. Despite these protective rules, children directly participating in hostilities remain lawful targets and their special protection status becomes severely less useful. For these reasons, the author argues, that the presumption of equal target ability hinders the Special protection of children to have the practical impact for children used on the battlefield it intened to.The tremendous amounts of child soldiers recruited by non-state armed groups shows that the prohibition against recruitment and use aren't respected. However, the author argues that the ICC juris prudence and national initiatives illustrate that the presumption of equal targetability can be challenged under international law. And, that the special protection for children in times of conflict, and international law as a whole does motivate differanting rules for targeting children versus adults participating in hostilities. For arguments presumably made on moral grounds, military personnel are willing to put themselves at greater risk to spare the life of a child soldiers forced to take part in a conflict, he or she definitely did not start. The Vancuver principles and the The Canadian Armed Forces Joint Doctrine Note shows that states are willing to follow in these footsteps by adding extra precautionary measures in the planning state of a military operation and to completely differentiate the rules for targeting children and adults. Lastly, the author argues that the rules for targeting cultural property ( set out in the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property), could be an example on how to differentiate the rules for targeting children. In this regard the author argues that, like cultural property, children directly participating in hostilities should only be lawfully targeable, at last resort, when there is no other way to fulfill the military advantage.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2023. , p. 43
Keywords [en]
Child soliders, International Humanitarian law, rules of targeting, Direct Participation in Hostillites
National Category
Law and Society
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-11752OAI: oai:DiVA.org:fhs-11752DiVA, id: diva2:1790223
Subject / course
International Law
Educational program
Master´s programme in International Operational Law
Uppsok
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2023-09-05 Created: 2023-08-22 Last updated: 2023-09-05Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
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