Master of Laws




Professor Asad G. Kiyani


The debate on the issue of child soldiers in international law has been mainly framed around the narrow question of whether child soldiers should be prosecuted or deemed innocent victims. This question, while essential, marginalized several considerations related to the multidimensional and intersecting identities and roles of child soldiers. Few scholars have investigated and evidenced the major gaps related to the legal protection of child soldiers in international law. While recognizing the potential related to the analysis on child soldiers’ criminal liability, this research proposes to focus on the examination of their vulnerabilities and to explore the legal foundations for the strengthening of their legal protection.

Thus, this project is not a mere recognition of child soldiers as innocent victims but a careful and extensive examination of several areas of Public International Law such as International Humanitarian Law, International Criminal Law and International Human Rights Law to justify the necessity to establish a stronger and exhaustive legal protection for child soldiers. Most importantly, this research illustrates the reason why child soldiers keep their status as children, despite their status or conduct during armed conflicts, and the ensuing consequences and impacts of such findings for the principle of distinction in International Humanitarian Law.