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Print this pageChildren and Justice During and in the Aftermath of Armed Conflict




Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict

Resource type:

UN report


The purpose of this paper is to bring more conceptual clarity to the issue of children and justice in times of armed conflict by examining relevant legal provisions, academic discussions and a number of case studies.

PDF document and Justice.pdf

[Geneva, 12 September 2011] During her presentation to the Human Rights Council, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict expressed concern with regard to issues related to children and justice including the detention and prosecution of children in situations of armed conflict.

“States are increasingly arresting and detaining children associated with armed groups, either because they are a threat to national security or because they have participated in hostilities,” SRSG Radhika Coomaraswamy said during the session. When deprived of their liberty, children are particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses.

According to her new publication, “Children and Justice During and in the Aftermath of Armed Conflict”, children are often tried in national and military courts without legal representation or assistance, are not accompanied by their parents and often do not possess a clear understanding of the charges brought against them.

“Given the forced nature and the root causes of their association with armed groups, and, considering their age, children should be treated primarily as victims, not as perpetrators,” the child rights advocate said and called on Member States to prosecute adult recruiters who force girls and boys to commit violations. Many are themselves abused, exploited, and beaten into submission by their commanders while associated with an armed group.

The publication was launched the same day in an effort to bring conceptual clarity to children and justice-related matters including the question of how children who have suffered grave violations during armed conflict can seek justice.

During her presentation, SRSG Coomaraswamy also elaborated on the changing nature of war and its terrible impact on children. “Wherever aerial attacks occur, the technological potential to kill civilians including children, may result in devastating circumstances,” SRSG Coomaraswamy said. She called on all parties to minimize civilian causalities and characterised the use of girls and boys as suicide bombers and 'victim' bombers, “one of the most perverse developments in modern warfare.” The world should unite as one against these developments.

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Organisation Contact Details:

Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict
United Nations
Room S-3161 H
New York
NY 10017

Last updated 12/09/2011 09:15:26

Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.

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