Children and youth are seriously affected by gross human rights violations in conflict and under repressive regimes; transitional justice measures must uniquely consider and protect their rights. ICTJ's Children and Youth Program develops information and tools to appropriately engage children and youth in transitional justice processes.
Children and youth are especially vulnerable to the effects of conflict and gross human rights violations. In many post-conflict regions, children and youth comprise more than half of the affected population. They are often specific targets of human rights abuse due to their age and societal status.
Children and youth often experience the effects of violations differently from adults. They may be witnesses or victims of first-hand abuse—such as forced recruitment, torture, displacement or sexual assault—resulting in serious physical and psychological harm. If they lose their guardians—through killings, unlawful detention, or disappearances—they suffer the trauma of both separation and loss of support.
Children and youth also risk losing the benefits of education, adequate healthcare and other services at the time in their lives when these are critical to their development.
Children and youth have a right to share their experiences and take part in justice and reconciliation processes.
Transitional justice mechanisms such as truth-seeking, institutional reform, reparations and criminal tribunals can be powerful tools to address the effects of violations perpetrated against children. They can also raise awareness about the overall effects of conflict and repression to help prevent recurrence.
There is a growing awareness of the importance of including children in transitional justice. The mandate of the Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) included special protections for youth. Likewise, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has begun paying increased attention to international crimes against children.
Future initiatives must continue to promote and protect the specific needs of children and youth.
We develop strategies with local and international partners on ways to include children and youth in meaningful post-conflict dialogue, reconciliation and community rebuilding efforts.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols guide our work.