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Child or Soldier? Adolescents and Armed Conflict in a Securitized World


Monette Zard, Azmat Khan, Dr. Ezequiel Heffes, Faith K. Nimineh, Juan D. Arredondo

Child Labor
Child Rights

Grave violations against children in armed conflict, including the recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups, continue to be a major protection concern in numerous countries in Africa, the Middle East, East and South Asia, and Latin America. Over the last 20+ years, the international landscape has shifted in the context of securitization and counterterrorism measures, effectively shrinking the humanitarian and protection space for children and adolescents impacted by armed conflict.

Hosted by the Simon and June Li Center for Global Journalism at Columbia University’s Journalism School and co-organized with the Program on Forced Migration and Health at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, the CPC Learning Network, this in-person panel conversation sought to unpack how common beliefs, biases, and perceptions of children and adolescents in conflict-affected regions are shaping the narrative – and the international humanitarian and development community’s response and programming for certain groups of children. Panelists contextualized current narratives through a combination of journalistic, humanitarian, programming, legal, and geopolitical perspectives.


  • Dr. Ezequiel Heffes, Director, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict
  • Faith K. Nimineh, Senior Advisor, Humanitarian Affairs, ChildFund Alliance
  • Juan D. Arredondo, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Journalism, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Azmat Khan, Patti Cadby Birch Assistant Professor of Journalism and Director of the Simon and June Li Center for Global Journalism, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Introductory Remarks:
Monette Zard, Allan Rosenfield Associate Professor of Forced Migration and Health and the Director of the Forced Migration and Health Program in the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

In the video of this panel discussion, we cover:

- Biases and preconceived notions about children in armed conflict, their recruitment and the constrained options that may lead them to participate in armed groups

- What it means to get affirmative and lasting consent from children for photojournalism

- The negative impact of "counterterrorism" and "securitization" frameworks

Cover Image: Underaged Members pose for a picture at a clandestine ELN (Ejercito de Liberación Nacional) camp in the jungle of Colombia's Pacific coast. Photo Credit: Juan Arredondo.

Child Labor
Child Rights
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