ICTJ: UN Security Council to Press for Accountability for Crimes Against Children

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The United Nations Security Council has invited the International Center for Transitional Justice to provide expert recommendations on how to achieve accountability for violations against children in armed conflict.

The UN Security Council should recognize that protection of children and accountability for grave violations against children are part of the Council’s role in upholding peace and security.

Accountability for violations against children in armed conflict is best achieved through a comprehensive approach to justice that addresses the responsibility of perpetrators and the rights of victims within a broader process of social change. This is the key message to be delivered by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) on September 19, 2012, during the UN Security Council’s Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict.

“Prosecutions are essential for accountability, as they send a clear message that certain violations will not be tolerated by the society or the international community. However, ICTJ’s work over the past decade in over 40 countries has shown that in isolation, prosecutions are not enough,” said David Tolbert, president of ICTJ.

In his address to the Security Council, Tolbert will recommend that the full range of transitional justice measures are prioritized in the set of responses available to the Security Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. ICTJ maintains that transitional justice measures can work to reveal the underlying causes of violations against children, remedy the consequences and prevent their recurrence.

“We need to understand what drives criminal acts such as forcible recruitment of child soldiers in order to fully address them. Truth-seeking can help to do that,” says Tolbert. “Military, security and other state institutions that engage in such practices must be thoroughly reformed if we are to avoid their recurrence. And the harm done to children must be dealt with through carefully devised reparations programs to allay long-term consequences of the suffering inflicted upon them.”

ICTJ will call upon the Security Council to build on the progress made over the past decade and utilize its leverage to support national processes working to address the full range of violations against children.

“The Council should continue to recognize that protection of children and accountability for grave violations against children are part of the Council’s role in upholding peace and security,” said Tolbert. “With this in mind, the Council should urge donors to support national processes that seek to achieve accountability in a comprehensive manner.”

In addition, ICTJ will call for increased focus on accountability within Action Plans the UN has entered with parties to conflict where children were targeted. ICTJ believes that the UN Action Plans to address violations against children are a starting point to achieving accountability for violations against children. “It will also be important to see Actions Plans on the other grave violations against children,” says Tolbert.

ICTJ is the only non-governmental organization invited to address the UN Security Council’s annual open debate on children in armed conflict this year.

The debate will be held on September 19, 2012, at 10:00 am United Nations headquarters in New York. The session may be viewed live on the UN’s streaming channel, at http://webtv.un.org. The full text of ICTJ’s address will be made available immediately after the address at http://www.ictj.org.

About ICTJ    

ICTJ assists societies confronting massive human rights abuses to promote accountability, pursue truth, provide reparations, and build trustworthy institutions. Committed to the vindication of victims’ rights and the promotion of gender justice, we provide expert technical advice, policy analysis, and comparative research on transitional justice measures, including criminal prosecutions, reparations initiatives, truth seeking, memorialization efforts, and institutional reform. For more information, visit http://www.ictj.org.

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Refik Hodzic
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