Major International Conference at W&L Explores Children Trapped in Violence The April conference explored children ensnared in violent situations, including armed conflict and liberation struggles.
In early April, W&L hosted a major international conference including dozens of scholars from across the globe. The conference explored children ensnared in violent situations, including the “fights” in which they can become involved, such as armed conflict, liberation struggles, criminalized violence, and securing economic and political well-being.
W&L Law professor Mark Drumbl, who helped organize the conference, said one goal was to better understand children’s fights in order to improve reintegration and rehabilitation and to also build a vibrant culture of juvenile rights.
“Having worked in the space for child soldiers for over a decade, I am uplifted by how much work has been done and am enthusiastic about the paths that lie ahead,” said Drumbl. “If the quality and excellence of the newer voices at this conference are any indication of the future, this augurs well for a world in which the challenges of children drawn into violent situations will become addressed in an empathetic, resolute, and innovative fashion.”
The conference ran for three days and included a number of panel discussions, as well as a poster session featuring the work of undergraduate students in W&L French professor Mohammed Kamara’s class, “The African Soldier.”
“I learned quite a bit from my colleagues coming from every corner of the globe and engaging the question of the child soldier from a variety of perspectives and disciplines,” said Kamara. “At the end of the conference, I felt my knowledge and appreciation of the child soldier problem—and more generally about the problem of children and violence—have been enriched.”
Kamara added, “I am particularly glad that my students were an integral part of the conference. Their poster presentations brought fresh perspectives to a thorny matter that world-renowned experts had gathered to address.”
Christelle Molima, a visiting scholar at W&L and one of the conference organizers, appreciated that the conference offered the opportunity for senior scholars, junior scholars and even undergraduate students to come together and share their thoughts.
“Unexpectedly, this conference created a bridge between scholars inside and outside the United States,” said Molima. “I learned much from each presentation, especially those that took a bottom-up approach. They challenged my knowledge and at the same time nourished my own research.”
Conferences organizers plan to publish an edited collection of work presented at the conference.