Securitising Children Rights: Victims and Heirs of Terrorism. A Critical Analysis of France’s Approach to Children of Foreign Terrorist Fighters
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The complex reality of children of ISIS foreign terrorist fighters stranded in inhumane camps in Syria presents an unprecedented phenomenon but one for which a rights-based approach exists under the international child protection framework. As children affected by armed conflict and terrorism, they are legally entitled to protection primarily as victims. Yet, their countries of origin are failing to respect their international obligations and lack the political will to repatriate, rehabilitate and (re)integrate these children back in a safe environment according to the children’s best interests. A critical case-study analysis of France’s approach reveals how a securitised response to these children is not allowing for a rights-based approach to even be considered. Through a dialectic relationship between political discourse, public opinion and media coverage, a climate of fear from exceptional terrorism threats and misinformed inflammatory discourse surrounding radicalisation led to dehumanising and exclusionary narratives which situate the terrorist outside the bounds of humanity or protection of law. These children are inheriting the effects of such narratives by being identified as terrorists themselves and being failed recognition of their dual victim status as children and child soldiers under international law. Keywords: child rights, discourse, foreign terrorist fighters, radicalisation, security.