Introduction: Context, Questions and
What are the legal and quasi-legal obligations of military personnel as regards their treatment of children? In particular, what are the obligations of officers of national armed forces in relation to children, either civilians or combatants, whom they or those under their command may encounter while participating in situations of armed conflict? How realistic and achievable are these obligations? How can compliance with them be encouraged, monitored, and/or enforced?
This book aims to address these questions in the context of military training. In doing so, it has another, inextricably-linked aim: to see if there are ways in which the training of officers can improve the protection of children in armed conflict situations, in accordance with international law and policy.
The book is intended for use particularly by those involved in training of national armed forces, including officers themselves, and members of governments, non-governmental organisations (hereafter NGOs) and inter-governmental organisations. It is hoped that it will also be of interest to lawyers, academics and others concerned with 'child rights' and related law and policy. As already emphasised in the Preface, the book is structured for ease of reference by these various categories of reader, so that it can be read in different ways according to their requirements.1
There are many reasons for undertaking the research on which this book is based. These include, first, that all children, especially young children, are particularly vulnerable, and are often subject to abuse in situations of armed conflict. Second, there is a large body of law relating to the protection of children in such situations, but little information as to how, or even if, military training addresses this body of law. This book will, among other things, provide such information as regards selected countries.
That said, the questions in the first paragraph above must be both asked and answered in a context where the nature of armed conflict has undergone profound