Child soldiers: rhetoric and realities : an examination of human rights organisational discourse on the issue of 'agency' and its implications on the best interests of the child
Recent peace processes have led to the demobilisation of tens of thousands of children from armed groups around the world. An understanding of the initial motivations and subsequent experiences of these children is crucial in ensuring that their needs are met once they are safe from harm. This understanding is largely informed by the work of international human rights organisations (HROs). While these organisations are working for the good of the children, they will also always have an element of self-interest in sustaining their activities. This study draws upon an analytical framework that combines elements of framing theory and discourse analysis. Using this framework as both a theoretical and methodological tool, the study examines how the understanding of child soldiers is constructed by leading HROs, particularly with respect to their exercise of agency, and seeks to critique these representations against alternative perspectives. The dissertation then explores both the potential ways in which the discourse could be seen to work in the interests of the organisations by appealing to various social structures and the extent to which it serves the best interest of the child. The study concludes by arguing that the HRO discourse is not dismissive of agency, but that the impact of their work on the well-being of demobilised child soldiers would benefit from the adoption of a more direct and consistent approach in this regard.
PublisherUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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