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Professor Drumbl to Present Research on Child Soldiers

Prof. Mark Drumbl
Prof. Mark Drumbl

Washington and Lee law professor Mark Drumbl will give two international presentations on his recent book examining child soldiers and international law.

Drumbl will present first as a faculty member at the 13th Specialization Course in International Criminal Law, titled the Future of International Criminal Law in the Era of Globalization. The week long series of workshops will be held at the International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences (ISISC) in Siracusa, Italy. Next, Drumbl will give a keynote address as part of the Canadian Bar Association’s National Military Law Conference, held in Ottawa, Ontario.

Both presentations are based on Drumbl’s book, Reimagining Child Soldiers, published by Oxford University Press. According to Drumbl, the international community’s efforts to halt child soldiering have yielded some successes. But this pernicious practice persists. It may shift locally, but it endures globally. Preventative measures therefore remain inadequate. Former child soldiers experience challenges readjusting to civilian life. Reintegration is complex and eventful. The homecoming is only the beginning. Reconciliation within communities afflicted by violence committed by and against child soldiers is incomplete. Shortfalls linger on the restorative front. The international community strives to eradicate the scourge of child soldiering. Mostly, though, these efforts replay the same narratives and circulate the same assumptions. Current humanitarian discourse sees child soldiers as passive victims, tools of war, vulnerable, psychologically devastated, and not responsible for their violent acts. This perception has come to suffuse international law and policy. Although reflecting much of the lives of child soldiers, this portrayal also omits critical aspects.

Drumbl’s book pursues an alternate path by reimagining the child soldier. It approaches child soldiers with a more nuanced and less judgmental mind. This book takes a second look at these efforts. It aspires to refresh law and policy so as to improve preventative, restorative, and remedial initiatives while also vivifying the dignity of youth. Along the way, Drumbl questions central tenets of contemporary humanitarianism and rethinks elements of international criminal justice.

Posted in Drumbl, Mark A., Law Center, Law homepage

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