This articles presents the current universalism vs cultural relativism debate of children’s rights applied to the issue of child soldiers’ disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programs. Following a brief description of both perspectives and of the most common DDR programs, we present what each perspective identifies in the literature as being the main problems and best practices of DDR programs and how these widely differing problems and best practices reflect the current impasse of the larger philosophical debate. In an effort to move away from this impasse in a pragmatic manner, we recommend the development of programming by a multidisciplinary team of experts who can come to paint a multifaceted and grounded understanding of the conflict and the environment into which the child soldier must reintegrate, thereby creating programming that is both respectful of fundamental human rights and adaptable to the complex reality of each individual child soldier.
Mediation of peace agreements bringing an end to armed conflict has become increasingly popular since the end of the Cold War. In the context of armed conflict, mediation has been undertaken by states, non-governmental organisations, regional and international organisations, and even individuals. Until recently, international peace mediation was undertaken on an ad hoc basis and in the absence of formal guidelines. Recently, however, various attempts have been made to formalise and professionalise international peace mediation to a certain extent. The UN and EU have set up offices dedicated to mediation, non-governmental organisations have been branded as ‘mediation experts’ and have led and supported mediation processes in conflict zones and numerous sets of guidelines, seeking to guide and regulate mediators have been created. This paper analyses the theory and practice of international peace mediation, with a special focus on the codes of conduct which seek to direct these mediators.