The N'Djaména Declaration on the Prevention of Child Soldiering

By Prof. Susan Perry / Created 2010-10-15

AUP Professor Susan Perry was selected by the US State Department to join the American negotiating team in Chad in June 2010 for the drafting and signing of the “N'Djaména Declaration on the Prevention of Child Soldiering.” She worked with government representatives from each of the six Central African states, as well as UN representatives, psychologists, and reintegrated child soldiers to determine how best to codify the administration and monitoring of demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) of the region’s thousands of remaining child combatants.

Q: How is the N’Djaména Declaration different from past agreements? 

A: Although a Declaration, the drafters were able to include binding language on monitoring and evaluation procedures, including regular access to demobilized children.  Moreover, each of the six Central African nations – Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan – sent large delegations with high-ranking representatives, indicating that the implementation of the Declaration was a policy priority for their governments.

Q: What was your role as part of the American negotiating team?

A: In addition to preparatory research on national legal frameworks in support of the prevention of child soldiering, I met with key UNICEF and diplomatic representatives to discuss the drafting of the Declaration.  I was also able to assist US Chargé d’Affaires, Sue Bremner, during the actual three-day negotiation that preceded signature of the Declaration.

Q: What did your paper propose during the UNICEF conference?

A:  My work in human rights looks to include all stakeholders in the search for peace and justice.  Consequently, I presented a paper on the responsibility of corporations in enabling resource conflicts and the creation of conflict economies, particularly in Congo and Chad.  Individual criminal liability for corporate CEOs, who knew or should have known that their extraction activities perpetuated conflict, is on the agenda of the International Criminal Court and will be one of the most important issues in international law in the coming years.

Q: Lastly, what did this experience teach you and how will you use this in the classroom?

A: Treaty negotiation is a tremendous learning experience for all participants.  My work will be used in an AUP course on “Women, Conflict and International Law” this semester, where we will examine the different stages of the negotiation, the actual strategies involved in altering the text, and how to assure follow-up in a region still recovering from the ravages of war.

Professor Susan Perry is Associate Professor of Political Science, Director of the Division of International Politics, Economics and Public Policy, and Director of the four graduate programs in the division.