Child Recruitment as a Crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
M. HAPPOLD, "Child Recruitment as a Crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court" THE LEGAL REGIME OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT: ESSAYS IN MEMORY OF IGOR BLISCHENKO, José Doria, Hans-Peter Gasser, M. Cherif Bassiouni, eds., Leiden: Brill, 2009
Although children have always participated in armed conflict, over the past few decades their recruitment and use as child soldiers has become a matter of increasing international concern. This concern has manifested itself in several ways. There has been a concerted effort to strengthen the legal standards restricting children’s recruitment into armed forces and groups and their participation in hostilities, and an increased involvement by the political organs of the United Nations in monitoring compliance with the rules. In addition, however, there has been a move to criminalisation; that is, to subject individuals who violate the international rules governing the recruitment and use of child soldiers to criminal sanction.
The most significant result of this last development has been the criminalisation of child recruitment in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Indeed, the first defendant to appear before the Court has been charged exclusively with child recruitment. Despite this, however, uncertainties remain about the definition of the crime. This article seeks to analyse the relevant provisions in the Rome Statute to elucidate better their meaning.
However, it also argues that the specific crime of child recruitment cannot be viewed in isolation. Children suffer from other violations of their rights in armed conflicts, which the Court should also prosecute. What is in the best interests of child victims and witnesses needs to be considered at all stages of the criminal process. The issues that arise concern the Office of the Prosecutor and the Registry as much as Chambers, requiring all of the organs of the Court to exercise judgment to ensure justice is done both to the accused and to the alleged child victims of their crimes.
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