The Introduction to this book, in Chapter One, raised a number of questions regarding the usefulness of military training concerning children, or indeed traditional military IHL and human rights training generally, given recent world events and other developments (eg in weapon technology). It is undoubtedly true that the face of global politics is constantly changing so that, among other things, at the time of writing the US had become—after years of 'Cold War' deadlock—the only world 'super-power', and new forms of terrorism were evolving and provoking novel military and legal responses.
However, IHL and human rights law and policy relevant to military training on children, as outlined in the text above (Chapters Two to Six), have not been 'overtaken by events'. They remain largely valid and applicable, at least in theory (although they have often been violated in practice, as already discussed). Their validity rests not simply in the fact that the applicable customary norms are universal, and that almost the entire international community has ratified key treaties (especially the 1989 CRC and the 1949 GCs).
The pertinent law and policy also retain their validity in that: 1) the high-profile conflicts involving massive human rights violations and/or powerful actors within the international community (eg Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, Iraq) still require consideration by military personnel of basic principles such as unnecessary suffering, proportionality, and military necessity, (even if, again, this requirement is often not fulfilled in practice), and 2) while the high-profile conflicts may be more dramatic and publicised, the other, smaller conflicts continue 'on the ground' in the same deadly, messy way that they have done for centuries, and they too (again, in theory at least) do not escape the reach of basic IHL and human rights principles. In both conflict situations—the publicised and the seemingly forgotten—international law and policy for the protection of children may, among other things, serve as the 'thin edge of the wedge' in introducing, first, child-specific, and then more generally applicable IHL and human rights considerations into the conduct of armed conflict.1
That said, the aim here—as stated in the Introduction to this book—has been to address the following questions: what are the obligations of officers of national
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Publication information: Book title: Military Training and Children in Armed Conflict: Law, Policy, and Practice. Contributors: Jenny Kuper - Author. Publisher: Martinus Nijhoff. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2005. Page number: 169.
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