"At present, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers reports that approximately 300,000 children in over 40 countries worldwide are engaged in armed conflict. Of the estimated 300,000 child soldiers in the world, 120,000 can be found in Africa alone. Apart from making them direct combatants, both governments and armed groups use children as messengers, lookouts, porters, spies able to entre small spaces, and even use them as suicide bombers and human mine detectors. In the due course of such use and abuse, children are forced to kill or are themselves killed, sexually assaulted, raped, forced to become wives of the commanders, exposed to drugs and forced labour, showing the cross cutting nature and magnitude of the problem of child soldiers. There are a variety of international legal standards which, at first glance, seem to give some direction and guidance in the protection of child soldiers. In spite of these legal instruments for the protection of child soldiers in Africa, however, much remains to be done as the problem is continuing at a larger scale every day and new challenges keep cropping up. This study will look into ways of addressing these problems in the context of Africa. Therefore, in order to address the issue to the best possible level, the normative framework in place may need to be strengthened. Moreover, in an attempt to be comprehensive in addressing the problem, ways of dealing with child soldiers who have allegedly committed atrocities during armed conflict should be included. This piece explores how these issues could possibly be addressed to provide for protection to the child soldier in Africa. ... The study consists of five chapters. Chapter one will set out the content in which the study is set. It highlights the basis and structure of the study. The second chapter will look into the magniture of child soldiers both at the international and the regional level. The third chapter, which will use the second one as a background, will critically reflect on the gaps and opportunities created by the normative framework protecting child soldiers in Africa. A comprehensive approach in addressing the problem of child soldiers calls for setting out possible mechanisms in treating child soldiers both as victims and 'perpetrators'. Speaking of child soldiers as perpetrators, the fourth chapter will set out the ways and means to be adopted in calling child soldiers to account for atrocities committed during armed conflict. Under the final chapter, which is chapter five, a conclusion is drawn and the way forward is indicated through recommendations." -- Introduction.
Prepared under the supervision of Prof. Julia Sloth-Nielsen at the Faculty of Law, the University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Thesis (LLM (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa)) -- University of Pretoria, 2005.