INCENTIVIZED BARBARISM: EXPLAINING THE INCREASE IN CHILD SOLDIER USAGE IN AFRICA POST-INDEPENDENCE
Collier, I Benjamin IV
Sigman, Rachel L.
Mabry, Tristan J.
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Child soldiering has become common in Africa. This was not always the case; many African cultures had traditions that prevented children from taking part in combat until physically mature enough to do so. Neither was child soldiering common during colonial occupation of Africa. Starting after independence from colonial powers, however, African children have either chosen to fight in armed forces groups or have been forced to fight by state and by rebel entities. What has led to the rise of child soldier usage in post-independence era rebellions? This research reviews conflicts before and after two critical historical points, independence from colonial powers and the end of the Cold War, to understand the trajectory of child soldier usage. Multiple cases are examined, with pre-independence represented by the Mau Mau Rebellion, the interim period by the Mozambique Civil War, and then post-Cold War by analyzing Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front. Through comparative analysis of these rebellions, this thesis identifies the factors that have led to increased usage of child soldiering. This thesis recommends increased focus on a non-proliferation policy of small arms, as the efficiency and proliferation of these arms encourages child soldier usage.
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