Published In

McGill Law Journal

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



Child soldiers; Human rights; Child Soldier Doctrine; International humanitarian law


Book note re: Children at War by Peter W. Singer (New York: Pantheon, 2005). "Over the last decade, the existence of child soldiers has been brought to light through a barrage of graphic international news agency articles and human rights reports. Usually, these materials only identify sporadic and often sensationalized cases. What has been less forthcoming is a deeper understanding of what P.W. Singer calls the “child-soldier doctrine”: a calculated and pervasive strategy by armed groups to use children as combatants. Children at War is an admirable effort at making this daunting topic accessible to a wider public policy audience, and it provides an interesting non-legal primer on this topic for practitioners of international humanitarian law. However, the book’s insufficient treatment of important legal aspects of the child soldier issue is disappointing given that effective criminal prosecutions are a necessary element to confronting this challenge. In addition, stepped-up prosecutorial activity at the international level has taken place since Singer completed this text, and it also warrants attention."