Examining Decision Making & Child Soldiers

Christopher Faulkner, Security Studies Ph.D. candidate, recently published an article, “Money and Control: Rebel Groups and the Forcible Recruitment of Child Soldiers.”  The article appeared in the journal African Security and explores the factors impacting rebel groups’ decision making when it comes to employing child soldiers.  Faulkner hypothesizes that resource endowments at a rebel group’s onset will impact their decision to use or forego the use of child soldiers.  In addition, Faulkner contends that fluctuations in resources throughout a group’s lifespan will impact the level at which a group forcibly recruits child soldiers.

The article tests these hypotheses through a comparative case study of the National Resistance Army (NRA) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), both operating in Uganda.  The findings demonstrate that groups make strategic calculations about recruiting children as soldiers dependent upon the resources and support available at its formation.  In addition, groups who choose to use child soldiers, such as the LRA, will become more violent and aggressive in their recruitment patterns when they see increases in their economic resource streams.  Overall, this research shines light on the continued human rights issue of child soldiering and why groups may continue to employ children as primary fighters in conflict.

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