Research Handbook on Child Soldiers
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Research Handbook on Child Soldiers

Edited by Mark A. Drumbl and Jastine C. Barrett

Child soldiers remain poorly understood and inadequately protected, despite significant media attention and many policy initiatives. This Research Handbook aims to redress this troubling gap. It offers a reflective, fresh and nuanced review of the complex issue of child soldiering. The Handbook brings together scholars from six continents, diverse experiences, and a broad range of disciplines. Along the way, it unpacks the life-cycle of youth and militarization: from recruitment to demobilization to return to civilian life. The overarching aim of the Handbook is to render the invisible visible – the contributions map the unmapped and chart new directions. Challenging prevailing assumptions and conceptions, the Research Handbook on Child Soldiers focuses on adversity but also capacity: emphasising the resilience, humanity, and potentiality of children affected (rather than ‘afflicted’) by armed conflict.
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Chapter 17: Dominic Ongwen on trial: problematizing definitional boundaries and exploring the possibilities of socialization

Carse Ramos


This chapter explores the case of Dominic Ongwen, the first individual ever to be tried by an international tribunal for charges of which he himself was a victim. It does so in order to pose broader questions about the complexities of victimhood and culpability, particularly in the context of formerly conscripted child soldiers. The chapter first interrogates the categorical constructs of age delimiters and victim-perpetrators; it then places these into the trial setting through a specific analysis of how these constructs are operationalized by the International Criminal Court. After a brief discussion of some of the defences being raised in the case, the chapter concludes by arguing that the incorporation of a sociological framework offers a more fruitful and robust understanding of the potential impacts of Ongwen’s experiences within the LRA.

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