Since i am researching Child Soldiering, with a focus on Africa, I thought it would be important to research international laws regarding the use of children in wartime efforts. As such, I found an article titled, Prohibition of child soldiering – international legislation and prosecution of perpetrators, from the Hanse Law Review of International Law. The first step the article takes is to define child: “Pursuant to Article 1 of that Convention, ‘A child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier’” (107). This is vital to assessing the legality of a situation using child soldiers because individuals reach majority at different ages in different countries. The innocence of childhood, however, should not be stripped away by war before adulthood has been reached.
A widely adopted definition was proposed in the Cape Town Principles: “‘Any person less than eighteen years of age who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to cooks, porters, messengers, and anyone accompanying such groups, other than family members. [The definition] includes girls recruited for sexual purposes and for forced marriages. It does not, therefore, only refer to a child who is carrying or has carried arms’” (107).
Legal documents that discuss child soldiers are useful in that they provide clear definition for the more vague elements of the subject. They take an informed and understood stance on a problem and dictate what is legal and what is not – this will provide evidence for or against the results of my research.