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Reimagining Child Soldiers in International Law and Policy
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Reimagining Child Soldiers in International Law and Policy

Price: $105.00
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Published Jan 2012 (OUP)
ISBN: 9780199592654. Hard Cover, 256 pages.

Mark A. Drumbl 

Also available in Paperback

The international community's efforts to halt child soldiering have yielded some successes. But this pernicious practice persists. It may shift locally, but it endures globally. Preventative measures therefore remain inadequate. Former child soldiers experience challenges readjusting to civilian life. Reintegration is complex and eventful. The homecoming is only the beginning. Reconciliation within communities afflicted by violence committed by and against child soldiers is incomplete. Shortfalls linger on the restorative front. Still, conversations about child soldiers mostly involve the same story, told over and over, and repeat the same assumptions, over and over. 

Current humanitarian discourse sees child soldiers as passive victims, tools of war, vulnerable, psychologically devastated, and not responsible for their violent acts. This perception has come to suffuse international law and policy. Although reflecting much of the lives of child soldiers, this portrayal also omits critical aspects. This book pursues an alternate path by reimagining the child soldier. It approaches child soldiers with a more nuanced and less judgmental mind. It offers a way to think about child soldiers that would invigorate international law, policy, and best practices. Where does this reimagination lead? Not toward retributive criminal trials, but instead toward restorative forms of justice. Toward forgiveness instead of excuse, thereby facilitating reintegration and promoting social repair within afflicted communities. Toward a better understanding of child soldiering, without which the practice cannot be ended. 

This book also offers fresh thinking on related issues, ranging from juvenile justice, to humanitarian interventions, to the universality of human rights, to the role of law in responding to mass atrocity. 

Readership: Scholars and post-graduate students of international criminal justice, international humanitarian law, transitional justice, and war studies; government and NGO legal advisers and policy-makers dealing with questions related to child soldiers.  

"Drumbl draws on insights from numerous disciplines - developmental psychology, anthropological and ethnographic research, and critical intersectionality theory. He deploys these interdisciplinary insights skillfully to contest contemporary legal fictions...Whether or not one agrees with Drumbl's prescriptions, his book illuminates one of the darkest aspects of current conflicts and reinvigorates the international legal imagination." - Jose E. Alvarez, New York University School of Law 

"Stimulating and provocative, Mark Drumbl provides us with a new understanding of what he calls the oxymoron of child soldiers. It is a discussion that is traditionally plagued with cliche, shibboleth and stereotype. His imaginative analysis of the subject is set out here with rich nuance and distinction, and presented in sparkling prose." - William Schabas, Middlesex University, London 

"Expertly argued, scrupulously presented and intellectually assured, Reimagining Child Soldiers offers a subtle, often unorthodox, retort to the prevailing intellectual and legal currents. It is always a pleasure to come upon a book whose very great ambitions are fully realised. Mark Drumbl has set the agenda on this subject for years to come." - Gerry Simpson, University of Melbourne 

"This well researched book challenges us to rethink whether there should be greater accountability for child soldiers who are implicated in acts of atrocity. Rejecting simplistic images of child soldiers as passive victims or as being all alike, it calls attention to children's agency and invites fresh consideration of the value of accountability, not through retributive trials but through reintegrative and restorative justice processes." - Mike Wessells, PhD, Columbia University 

1: Coming of Age in Atrocity 

2: Children Who Soldier: Practices, Politics, and Perceptions 

3: Not So Simple 

4: Child Soldiers and Accountability 

5: Unlawful Recruitment and Use of Children: From Proscription to Prevention 

6: Rights, Wrongs, and Transitional Reconstruction 

7: Reinvigorating the International Legal Imagination

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