Peacekeeper, Humanitarian, Abuser

Children at Risk Worldwide

January 2025 9781787381131 224pp


Thousands of organisations around the world are doing all they can to protect children, but many more are putting them at risk — and there is no single international legal framework or justice system to hold them to account.

Up to 1 billion children live in territories affected by armed conflict; millions are killed or disabled as a consequence of war and many more are at extreme physical and emotional risk. Humanitarian disaster and conflict have forced 50 million children to flee their homes, with many experiencing horrifying levels of sexual exploitation and abuse. In these most fragile contexts, perpetrators can easily go unpunished. Children already in desperate and terrifying situations are at grave risk of being harmed by the same soldiers and civilian staff sent to protect them.

In crises across the world, humanitarians and peacekeepers have subjected children to rape, trafficking, violence and abuse, demanding sex in exchange for the basics of survival — food, shelter, education and medicine. Too often, children have no way of reporting the abuse, no access to medical or psychosocial care, and no recourse to justice.

Peacekeeper, Humanitarian, Abuser explores how and why these abuses occur, and proposes a robust, evidence-based solution for safeguarding children.


Rosa Freedman is a lecturer at Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham. She is the author of The United Nations Human Rights Council: A Critique and Early Assessment and has published many academic and media articles on the UN, international law and human rights.

Nicolas Lemay-Hébert is Senior Lecturer in International Development, University of Birmingham.  He is the co-editor, inter alia, of The Political Invention of Fragile States.

Sarah Blakemore is Director of Keeping Children Safe and was formerly director of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

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