Child Soldiers and Early Warning


  • Laura Cleave
  • William Watkins



Early warning of the recruitment and use of child soldiers remains an elusive concept. This is surprising given the number and intensity of conflicts today where child soldiers are used. Yet, there is currently no formal early warning system in this sphere that focuses on recruitment and use. Without formally looking at indicators that precede recruitment, the international community runs the risk of missing important opportunities for data collection and analysis which could help to improve child protection and inform conflict mitigation. This paper will employ a qualitative review of the policy and research domains to examine the current landscape of early warning as it applies to child soldiers. It will consider why it is important to expand the scope of early warning to incorporate recruitment and use, so that children can be prioritized on the international security agenda and, to further understand why some children are more vulnerable to recruitment than others. Ultimately, this paper argues that the development of an early warning system for child soldiers would be important to better inform recruitment prevention from its earliest stages.

Keywords: Early Warning, Child Soldiers, Conflict, Recruitment Prevention, Child Protection





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