What if Goliath killed David ? : the coalition to counter ISIS and the status and responsibility of ISIS’ child soldiers
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American university international law review, Vol. 33, no. 3, 2018, p. 571-604
A coalition of international states is currently engaged in military operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). ISIS employs child combatants as it does adult combatants, with an estimated 1500 persons under eighteen years old serving as of late 2016. This raises two significant legal questions, under three areas of law— International Humanitarian Law (IHL); International Human Rights Law (IHRL); and, International Criminal Law (ICL), the enforceability mechanism of IHL, customary law, and specific international criminal law instruments. The first question raised is this: what is the status of ISIS’ more than 1500 child soldiers, and how should coalition forces legally regard them? The second question is one of speculative post-conflict transitional justice. ISIS has published propaganda footage of its child soldiers committing executions and bombings. Post-conflict, what will be the culpability of ISIS’ former child soldiers under international law?