Armed Groups and Children

How are children protected by IHL? Is their protection different in IAC and NIAC?  Would a child participating in hostilities constitute a legitimate military target? Does IHL distinguish between children who willingly took up weapons and those who have been forced?  Are States and non-State Parties similarly bound by the provisions on the prohibition of recruitment of children?

 

In times of armed conflicts, girls and boys are particularly at risk of facing abuses, being unlawfully recruited, used in hostilities or otherwise associated with armed forces or armed groups; of being wounded, killed or exposed to sexual violence. They are also often separated from their families and denied access to education and other essential services.
 
Thus, in the event of armed conflict, international humanitarian law contains specific rules aimed at protecting children from the effects of hostilities. In addition, IHL aims to prevent the recruitment and participation of children in hostilities. These rules can be found in chapters on Civilian population and Conduct of Hostilities.
 

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