Simon Reich is director of the Division of Global Affairs at Rutgers University. He is coeditor of Immigration, Integration, and Security: America and Europe in Comparative Perspective and Human Trafficking, Human Security, and the Balkans.
Current global estimates of children engaged in warfare range from 200,000 to 300,000. Children’s roles in conflict range from armed and active participants to spies, cooks, messengers, and sex slaves. Child Soldiers in the Age of Fractured States examines the factors that contribute to the use of children in war, the effects of war upon children, and the perpetual cycle of warfare that engulfs many of the world’s poorest nations.
The contributors seek to eliminate myths of historic or culture-based violence, and instead look to common traits of chronic poverty and vulnerable populations. Individual essays examine topics such as: the legal and ethical aspects of child soldiering; internal UN debates over enforcement of child protection policies; economic factors; increased access to small arms; displaced populations; resource endowments; forced government conscription; rebel-enforced quota systems; motivational techniques employed in recruiting children; and the role of girls in conflict.
The contributors also offer viable policies to reduce the recruitment of child soldiers such as the protection of refugee camps by outside forces, “naming and shaming,” and criminal prosecution by international tribunals. Finally, they focus on ways to reintegrate former child soldiers into civil society in the aftermath of war.
Recent acts of terrorism in Britain and Europe and the events of 9/11 in the United States have greatly influenced immigration, security, and integration policies in these countries. Yet many of the current practices surrounding these issues were developed decades ago, and are ill-suited to the dynamics of today's global economies and immigration patterns.
At the core of much policy debate is the inherent paradox whereby immigrant populations are frequently perceived as posing a potential security threat yet bolster economies by providing an inexpensive workforce. Strict attention to border controls and immigration quotas has diverted focus away from perhaps the most significant dilemma: the integration of existing immigrant groups. Often restricted in their civil and political rights and targets of xenophobia, racial profiling, and discrimination, immigrants are unable or unwilling to integrate into the population. These factors breed distrust, disenfranchisement, and hatred-factors that potentially engender radicalization and can even threaten internal security.
The contributors compare policies on these issues at three relational levels: between individual EU nations and the U.S., between the EU and U.S., and among EU nations. What emerges is a timely and critical examination of the variations and contradictions in policy at each level of interaction and how different agencies and different nations often work in opposition to each other with self-defeating results. While the contributors differ on courses of action, they offer fresh perspectives, some examining significant case studies and laying the groundwork for future debate on these crucial issues.