Universalism Versus Cultural Relativism: Improving DDR Programming

As the notion of child soldiering is in direct contradiction to how the West currently understands childhood, the international community has declared child soldiering a grave abuse of children’s rights. The issue of child soldiers and their reintegration is part of an on-going debate between the universalism of children’s rights and a culturally sensitive understanding of them. The universalist perspective believes that “childhood constitutes a coherent group or a state defined by identical needs and desires, regardless of class, ethnic, or racial differences”. Since children across the world are deemed to have the same needs, universalists believe that the same support and protection mechanisms should be applied.  Therefore, the universalists favour strictly prohibiting and punishing the use of child soldiers.