Child Soldiers: Children or Soldiers?
On the sixth installment of Meeting Points, and this pilot season’s finale, we discussed the issue of child soldiers with Joanna Dimopoulou and Demetra Loizou.
Webradio is broadcasting from central Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus at www.lemoniradio.com
Joanna Dimopoulou holds a PhD in Philosophy of International Affairs and has worked for the Hellenic Mission in International Organizations in Geneva, the European Commission. She has wide and varied background in human rights advocacy.
Demetra Loizou is a lecturer in International Law and Legal Skills at University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Cyprus, and is a practising lawyer. Her research focuses on international criminal law, international humanitarian law and human rights law. Her current research focus includes International Criminal Court (ICC) case law on the war crime of child soldiers.
The discussion began with a review of the basics, defining what constitutes the term “child soldiers” in the context of international law and the legal language of international conventions, and the roles a child soldier, whether a boy or a girl, are coerced into. We talked about their circumstances in conflict, how child soldiers are forced to become or support combatants and how their engagement as such is viewed in the framework of the relevant intentional conventions.
For example, the Paris Principles on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (2007) define a child soldier as follows: “A child associated with an armed force or armed group refers to any person below 18 years of age who is, or who has been, recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to children, boys and girls, used as fighters, cooks, porters, spies or for sexual purposes.”
Participants reviewed the legal history and more recent developments in landmark cases and international agreements. The panel discussed the cases of current and prolonged conflicts in the regions of Middle East and the Gulf, the role and responsibilities of states, the political dynamics and many points of friction on the issue including those to do with legal provisions of reparations and the responsibilities of reintegrating child soldiers.
Finally, the panel turned to issues involving the international legal framework with regard to proxy wars, the responsibility of the state vs. the responsibility of the individual both in providing reparations, as well as when dealing with child soldiers when they become refugees.
This discussion concluded our sixth and final installment of the pilot season of “Meeting Points”. Thank you for being with us, and see you again in September.