Groome featured presenter at international humanitarian law conference

CARLISLE, Pa. — Contemporary conflict patterns have created a myriad of complex issues in the field of international humanitarian law. At the 11th annual Minerva-International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Conference on Contemporary Challenges in International Humanitarian Law on Tuesday, Nov. 29, Dickinson Law Professor Dermot Groome presented his research titled "Child Soldiers – Both Victims and Combatants: Is There Anything International Humanitarian Law Can Do?" at Senate Hall, Mount Scopus Campus, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The conference explored cutting-edge issues in the field of international humanitarian law and was organized by the Minerva Center for Hebrew Rights at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Delegation of the ICRC in Israel.

Groome has spent the last year investigating the plight of children who are unlawfully incorporated into armed forces and then victimized by those who enlist them. Girl soldiers as young as ten years old have been raped by their commanders in the Democratic Republic of Congo; Boko Haram has used young girls as remotely detonated bombs in Nigeria.

International humanitarian law ordinarily draws a clear, rigid distinction between civilians, who enjoy comprehensive protections during conflict, and combatants, who have limited protections. Anyone with combatant status, including minors, do not benefit from civilian protections.

Groome argues that international humanitarian law must afford these children hybrid status. A new unique status that maintains the clear combatant relationship between child soldiers and those they engage in combat that is essential to the effective application of international humanitarian law, but treats them as civilians vis-à-vis members of the armed force that unlawfully enlisted them, thereby bringing them under the protection of international law.

View a working draft of Groome’s paper. 

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Last Updated November 30, 2016