JPIL Vol 4 Issue 1 2013 - Book Review

Book Review

by MARK A. DRUMBL (Oxford University Press, 2012)

Solon Solomon

In his interesting book, Mark Drumbl invites us to reconstruct the sheer victim image of child soldiers and also acknowledge their role as perpetrators of atrocities in some instances. For Drumbl, denying this aspect of child soldiers’ identity only puts hurdles in their reconciliation process and their further integration in local communities. At the same time, Drumbl is cautious not to speak in absolute terms; he articulates his firm epistemological stance, buttressed with arguments, without claiming any authoritative assertions. In his words, the book does not arrive at a scientific conclusion, but just a hypothesis, nevertheless urging its readers to take it seriously (p 201). This methodological stance is important for a book which attempts to make not only international law experts, but also international policy makers, adopt a genuine stance on the issue. In this regard, the book walks on a thin line, yet is cautious not to overstep it. This is buttressed by the style it is written. It avoids awkward legalistic analysis and arteriosclerotic argumentation yet retains its highly epistemological character. This means the book is of appeal to a wider audience and not simply readers with legal expertise (as academics or practitioners).

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