Coming Home: The Unmaking of a Child Soldier

  • Johanna Higgs


The final chapter of this thesis looks at what happens to children when they demobilise from the guerrilla groups. The chapter describes the process of re-entering the civilian worlds and explores the challenges that they face during this process. It will also show the challenges of ‘taking out the violence’ of young people which shows that ‘putting in the violence’ is an essential part of creating a guerrilla identity. This chapter shows how it is necessary to explore the deep-seated elements of child recruitment and militarisation to know how to safely bring children home and to encourage them into new lifeworlds that are not wracked by violence and danger but instead are rich with opportunity and possibility.


  1. Amnesty International. (2016). Somalia annual report. London: Amnesty International.Google Scholar
  2. Amnesty International. (2018). Colombia: Human rights and the peace agreement, Amnesty International Submission for the UN Universal Periodic Review, 30th session of the UPR working group. London: Amnesty International.Google Scholar
  3. Aviles, W. (2006). Paramilitarism and Colombia’s low intensity democracy. Journal of Latin American Studies, 38(2), 379–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Betancourt, T. (2011). Developmental perspectives on moral agency in former child soldiers. Human Development, 54, 307–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Castro, A. F., Herrero-Olaizola, A., & Rutter-Jensen, C. (2017). Introduction: Territories of conflict through Colombian cultural studies. New York: University of Rochester Press.Google Scholar
  6. Civico, A. (2016). The Para-State: An ethnography of Colombia’s death squads. Oakland: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  7. Denov, M. (2010). Child soldiers: Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dickson, E. (2016, August). Colombia’s war just ended. A new wave of violence is beginning. Foreign Policy, 25.
  9. Edwards, A., & Gaynor, T. (2016). UNHCR: Include refugees and displaced in Colombia peace talks. In UNHCR. Geneva: UNHCR.Google Scholar
  10. Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  11. Gray, V. (2008). The new research on civil wars: Does it help us understand the Colombian conflict? Latin American Politics and Society, 50(3), 63–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Guaqueta, A. (2009). The way back in: Reintegrating illegal armed groups in Colombia then and now. In M. Berdal & D. Ucko (Eds.), Reintegrating armed groups after conflict: Politics, violence and transition (pp. 10–37). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Human Rights Watch. (2017). World report 2017: Colombia. New York: Human Rights Watch.Google Scholar
  14. ICC. (2018). Report on preliminary examination activities 2018. The Office of the Prosecutor, ICC.Google Scholar
  15. IOM. (2017). DDR and child soldier issues. Colombia: IOM.Google Scholar
  16. Kemper, Y. (2012). No one to trust: Children and armed conflict in Colombia. Watch list on children and armed conflict.Google Scholar
  17. Krijin, P. (2006). Footpaths to reintegration: Armed conflict, youth and the rural crisis in Sierra Leone. Wageningen: Wageningen University.Google Scholar
  18. LaRosa, M., & Mejia, G. (2017). Colombia: A concise contemporary history. Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  19. Mendez, A. (2012). Militarized gender performativity: Women and demobilization in Colombia’s FARC and AUC (PhD thesis). Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada.Google Scholar
  20. Montoya, V. (2014). Former girl soldiers in Colombia: Young voices that need to be heard (Masters thesis). Dalhousie University, Halifax.Google Scholar
  21. OECD. (2017). OECD economic surveys: Colombia. Paris: OECD Publishing.Google Scholar
  22. OHCHR. (2018). Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Colombia. OHCHR.Google Scholar
  23. Reed, C. (2013). Learning from the past and looking towards the future: The situation of children soldiers in Colombia, Austria. Past and present Austria: Children and War.Google Scholar
  24. Reed, C. (2014). Victims, perpetrators, peace and transitional justice: The case of child soldiers in Colombia’s armed conflict. Children in War. Salzburg.Google Scholar
  25. Steinl, L. (2017). Child soldiers as agents of war and peace: A restorative transitional justice approach to accountability for crimes under international law. The Netherlands: Asser Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Theidon, K. (2009). Reconstructing masculinities: The disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants in Colombia. Human Rights Quarterly, 31, 1–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Thomas, V. (2008). Overcoming lost childhoods: Lessons learned from the rehabilitation of former child soldiers in Colombia. London: Care International.Google Scholar
  28. Tokatlian, J. G. (2000). Colombia at war: The search for a peace, diplomacy. International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society, 14, 333–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. United Nations. (2006). Integrated disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.
  30. United Nations. (2017). Peace operations estimate, United Nations Mission in Colombia. United Nations.Google Scholar
  31. US State Department. (2018). 2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Colombia. US State Department.
  32. Woodward, R. (2000). Warrior heroes and little green men: Soldiers, military training and the construction or rural masculinities. Rural Sociology, 65, 252–268.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johanna Higgs
    • 1
  1. 1.La Trobe UniversityBundooraAustralia

Personalised recommendations