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 18: Child soldiers and asylum – duality or dilemma?

Joseph Rikhof

Abstract

This chapter takes the perspective of immigration and refugee law. It examines the situation of children caught in the predicament of involuntary departure from their homes due to turmoil caused by war, precarious human rights situations or natural disasters. After an overview of the general precepts of immigration and refugee law in respect of adults and children, the chapter then focuses on the approach taken with regard to children who have been involved in armed conflict. While these constitute a very small number of the total cases processed, they are often high-profile, as well as exceedingly thorny from a humanitarian perspective, as they present the same dilemma as remarked upon in other chapters of this book, namely, the duality inherent in children involved in armed conflict who are at the same time a victim of crimes and inhumane circumstances while also a conveyer of the same type of misery upon others. The chapter provides a comparative analysis of the practice in a number of countries which have addressed this duality. It ends by offering some overarching conclusions in this complex area of law.

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