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AU Scholars | Spring 2016 Research Courses

Grow Up Already!? Child Soldiers, Adult Crimes

Course Time: W 11:45am -- 2:25pm

Goal/Description of the research experience: 

The goal of the research experience is for students to learn about the lack of international consensus on when childhood ends and adulthood begins and to propose legal frameworks for how the international community can respond in a consistent and defensible manner to the growing problem of child soldiers who commit some of worst crimes known to our generation. 

The final product to be presented at the Spring Research Symposium is a Draft Legal Charter or Addendum to be added to one of the existing international legal instruments (e.g., Rome Statute, Geneva Conventions) that clearly articulates how the international community shall address the wrongdoing of child soldiers, whether via adversarial truth, truth and reconciliation commission, or special court designed for non-punitive accountability. Students will be expected to identify which body of law their Draft Charter or Addendum will be anchored to, as well as explain the grounds for its inclusion within the larger realm of commitments of the international community.

Specific research skills that students will be developing in the class:

Students will learn how to find out what laws are on the books for various countries across the globe, identify differences in comparative legal practice, and identify/evaluate arguments for and against these differences. They will learn how to balance the importance of attending to local and cultural factors with the importance of generating international consensus in constructing legal frameworks for responding to the problem of mass atrocity carried out by child soldiers.

Why students should take your class?

Students should take my class because it will challenge some of their deeply held beliefs about when childhood ends and adulthood begins, as well as the very nature of what it means to be a child and an adult, and how these seemingly simple categories are deceptively elusive once considered on an international level. Moreover, they will take on the exciting task of proposing concrete legal reform to one of the most troubling areas of international law, thereby leaving their legacy on the global affairs!