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Unravelling the poster child: the international norm against child soldiering in Sierra Leone and Myanmar

Pauls, Evelyn (2018) Unravelling the poster child: the international norm against child soldiering in Sierra Leone and Myanmar. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the emergence and development of the international norm against the recruitment and use of child soldiers. Starting with a historical contextualisation of the shift in perception of young people fighting as heroes to the traumatised child soldier so prominently featured today, it shows how the change in conceptions of childhood in the West and the rise of humanitarianism and human rights has come to define the norm against child soldiering today. This norm finds expression in the work of a network of international organisations, human rights activists, and child protection NGOs. Continuity and change in the strategies international actors employ to implement the norm against child soldiering are analysed by focusing on two cases: Sierra Leone, which is one of the most prominent and earliest cases in which the international network against child soldiering was very active; and Myanmar, which to this date is presumed to be the state with the worst child soldier record but only recently made it onto the international agenda. This thesis ultimately challenges the idea of a coherent and uncontested international norm, which has become dominated by the idea of the ‘universal child soldier’ as being very young, male, African, defined by his victim status, lacking agency, and irrationality. It argues that in order to understand how and why the international norm against child soldiering is implemented with different degrees of success in Sierra Leone and Myanmar, we have to pay attention to the specific histories and power relations embedded within the norm since its emergence.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2018 Evelyn Pauls
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Ainley, Kirsten
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/4169

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