Jo Becker

Publication Date



Since the mid-1990’s, United States’ policy regarding child soldiers has evolved significantly. The US was initially a strong opponent of efforts to negotiate an international treaty prohibiting the participation of children under age 18 in armed conflict. In subsequent years, it not only ratified the treaty, but adopted groundbreaking legislation that allows the US to prosecute child recruiters on US soil, even if the recruitment took place outside the United States, and that restricts US military assistance to foreign governments that recruit or use child soldiers. Although the Obama administration has invoked national security interests to waive these military sanctions in many cases, the US has stepped up its diplomatic engagement on child soldiers, influencing signed agreements by Chad, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to end child recruitment and demobilize children from their forces.