Author(s) Ana Catarina Amaral Correia
Advisor(s) Maria de Assunção do Vale Pereira
Year 2013

Synopsis This paper aims to explain the reasons why children wield a gun to participate in hostilities or are forced to fight as soldiers and, on the other hand, to demonstrate the complexity of the issue in what concerns programs, policies and legal rules on the matter. It helps to demonstrate that something can be done to prevent children’s involvement in armed conflicts becoming child soldiers, and points out some ideas and suggestions to prevent this tragic but avoidable phenomenon. Throughout the investigation, we can see that the recruitment of children is always very easy and their preparation for the battlefield becomes very simple. These children are easily tricked – when not kidnapped –, easily trained to follow the most atrocious orders, are more obedient, don’t discuss orders, are manipulated and especially more controllable. Their immaturity prevents them from discerning their own acts, they are not capable of measuring the consequences of their actions, nor valuing them, because their behaviour mechanisms are still under development, making them to take actions that would not be so easily taken by adults in the most hostile environments. Given the scale of the use of child soldiers around the world, we can’t address the different situations in which this occurs, so we choose the analysis of the situation in Darfur, which presents itself as an emblematic case, notwithstanding occasional references to other cases.

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