Chapter 20: Child agency and resistance to discourses within the Paris Principles in rehabilitation and reintegration processes of former child soldiers in northern Uganda
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Drawing from a one-year ethnographic study, this chapter shows how rehabilitation and reintegration processes of former child soldiers in northern Uganda have been influenced by the Paris Principles. Within this legal framework, returnee children were presented as innocent traumatized victims. The chapter argues that the circumstances in which the Lord’s Resistance Army forcibly recruited and conscripted abducted children to take part in armed rebellion significantly affected their behaviour. Applying the Paris Principles in the rehabilitation and reintegration of former child soldiers proved to be problematic since Acholi people did not readily accept the notions of former child soldiers’ innocence, passivity, implied impunity and traumatization. This led to the rejection and stigmatization of returnees, which, in turn, imperilled reintegration processes. The chapter urges that the Paris Principles be re-scripted to acknowledge children’s agency and victimhood and also to consider the community’s need for justice after war.

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