Whither justice for former child soldiers? complex perpetrators and the International Criminal Court

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


The International Criminal Court (ICC) was introduced to provide global leadership and rise above nationalistic concerns when it came to the pursuit of justice in highly complex situations and investigations. However, with its selective prosecutorial policies and the focus on the ‘worst of the worst’ of alleged perpetrators, the Court may not have anticipated, and may not be prepared, to deal with instances of complex perpetrators.
Dominic Ongwen, whose trial is currently underway before the court is one such example. Dominic Ongwen is charged with a host of crimes against humanity and war crimes, focusing on acts of brutality against civilian populations in Uganda, and his role as a Commander within the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Indeed some of the worst violence committed by the LRA has been attributed to Ongwen’s leadership. Yet this is not the whole picture. Dominic Ongwen has been part of the LRA for 25 years, having been abducted and forcibly recruited at a young age and having spent much of his childhood as a child soldier. He thus presents a complex case of a victim-perpetrator and confronting questions about what, precisely, the role of international criminal justice is in such cases.
This paper will explore some of the confronting questions that this case poses for the ICC, in terms of framing criminal responsibility, moral culpability, notions of justice and indeed, the very purpose of the Court.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventANZSIL Annual Conference: Sustaining the International Legal Order in an Era of Rising Nationalism - QT Hotel, Canberra , Australia
Duration: 29 Jun 20171 Jul 2017
Conference number: 25


ConferenceANZSIL Annual Conference


  • child soldiers
  • children participating in armed conflict
  • armed conflict
  • international criminal court
  • international criminal justice
  • complex perpetrators
  • victims


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