Exploiting Minors in Armed Conflict: Too Young to Die

The use of children in war zones is a global problem of the post-Cold War world. It is fast becoming the norm, despite conventions on children’s rights. But shocking new images have jolted campaigners into reviewing what should be done.

The World Today Published 1 July 2004 Updated 16 October 2020 4 minute READ

Mary-jane Fox

Research Associate, Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University

Two recent incidents revealed young Palestinian boys attempting to carry explosives through a checkpoint into Israel. One of these, only eleven years old, was paid to carry a bomb past security checks. Within days the other boy, aged fourteen, was pictured actually wearing a special vest packed with explosives.

Much was made of this by the Israeli government, though to many this development was hardly a surprise. After all, the exploitation of minors as participants in violent conflict is a contemporary global problem which has already received much attention. Often sensationalised in media coverage, it is a particularly complex problem, and much of what we are exposed to leaves us with only a patchwork understanding of a long and disturbing story.

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