Humanitarianism and human rights
The work of humanitarian agencies and human rights organizations within conflict-affected countries frequently involves some form of research into the situation of children and adolescents. Academicians with particular disciplinary training are sometimes engaged in this, but it often falls to local agency staff to do most of the fieldwork, often with a minimum of training. Much of this literature tends to be issue-led and narrow in focus, failing to provide an overview of the situation or to indicate possible linkages between different phenomena. Thus, it is hard to develop an understanding of the potential connection between, for example, school drop-out and recruitment to military forces, or between armed conflict and levels of domestic abuse.
In recent years a growing number of advocacy documents have appeared which highlight the impact of armed conflict on children. The most widely read and influential of these has been the study undertaken by Graca Machel at the request of the UN Secretary General.
This report provides a general overview of many of the ways in which children and adolescents are affected. Other advocacy documents have tended to focus on specific issues, most notably child recruitment. Such studies are framed in terms of international humanitarian law and UN conventions, particularly the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
In general there is little attention paid to the views or experiences of children, except in order to illustrate their suffering as a result of breaches in established global norms. Questions about the social and economic experiences of children and adolescents living in conflict situations are usually not explored in
of access to basic services and leisure opportunities; the additional challenges of the disabled; and the loss of social networks, that the greatest number of young people are probably affected by armed conflict. Furthermore, in the literature overall little attention is paid to the active roles that the young play in times of war and displacement.