Protecting Children in Armed Conflict

There may never have been a golden age in which respect for human rights protected children from war. But by any measure of suffering experienced by children caught up in conflict, we are living in a truly dark age. In conflicts across the world, children are on the frontline. An estimated 420 million children — 1 in 5 — live in conflict zones today

One of the defining features of this dark age is the culture of impunity surrounding those who deliberately harm or fail to protect children. The intensity, scope and impact of the violence inflicted on children points to systematic violations of both civil and criminal international law. Yet the perpetrators of these violations, and the leaders who authorise or simply tolerate their actions, seldom face justice, or even fear prosecution. The only effective antidote to this culture of impunity is the rule of law enforced by effective institutions. Protecting Children in Armed Conflict, the report summarised here, represents a comprehensive legal assessment of the relevant international law. It offers a re-examination of a critical but unresolved problem, and sets out proposals designed to end what has justly been described as ‘the war on children’.

Published 2020-09-11