Child soldiers present unique challenges to the international
community. Who are these children that are in the armed forces?
What constitutes a “child soldier”? Can the practice be stopped?
The United Nations took up these questions, and more, with the
ratification of the Conventions on the Rights of the Child in
1990. Since then, the international community has come
together on a variety of initiatives to target the ending of the use
of child soldiers. However, what the international community
has not yet recognized is the specific challenges facing female
child soldiers: from the distinct roles they play in the camps to
the issues arising during reintegration. Research suggests that
more needs to be done to protect these young girls before their
childhood is completely taken away.
Part I of this paper will discuss the prevalence of child soldiers.
Part II addresses the methods used to recruit the children into
conflict. Part III will discuss the unique dynamics facing female
child soldiers and the prominent dichotomy that exists between
these young girls’ experiences. Part IV will conclude with the
international initiatives that are currently in place and will
address what more needs to be done in order to best protect the