The liberal discourse and the "new wars" of/on children
Host item entries:
Brooklyn journal of international law, Vol. 38, issue 3, 2013, p. 1053-1107
The typical war of the last few decades is not one where high technology – unmanned drone, guided missiles – is used; rather, it is a war fought by young people with AK-47 and machetes. Since the early 90s an array of NGOs and individual activists have strongly argued against the use of children – individuals below 18 years of age – in armed conflict and lobbied for laws condemning the recruitment and use of children in hostilities. This article argues that this liberal discourse raises a number of issues. Through a politics of age dictating that a child is anyone under 18 this discourse refuses to acknowledge that childhood/adulthood can be determined in other ways. Moreover, it denies children any agency in deciding whether they wish to participate in the hostilities. To some extent, it might be argued that liberalism has adopted a rather patronising approach towards children in so-called non-liberal States.