Document Type



Child soldiers in theatres of armed conflict represent the worst and most abusive forms of child labour. States parties to the conflict, as well as third party States, bear differentiated and continuing international legal obligations in relation to child soldiering. Not only are States parties to the conflict barred under international humanitarian law from drafting this class of protected persons into child soldiering, but it may also be argued that other States in the multilateral economic system can independently take measures pursuant to the General Exceptions (Article XX) and Security Exceptions (Article XXI) clauses of the GATT 1994 to ensure, prevent, and deter parties from enjoying economic advantages illicitly obtained from the labour of child soldiers. As the International Labour Organization has advocated in ILO Convention No. 182, States also have a significant role in post-conflict situations to guarantee effective and meaningful international human rights protection in the demobilization of child soldiers and their reintegration to their respective home communities and regional societies. Where child soldiers have been used en masse to perpetuate trade in both facially-licit and contraband goods, States can design policy measures that facially depart from the multilateral trading rules against non-discrimination, most favoured nation, market access, and unfair trade, but without incurring international legal sanction.

Date of Authorship for this Version

Winter 2-6-2010


Human Rights, International Law, International Trade, Jurisprudence