Jennifer Davidson Albie SachsUnited Nations launch for global Justice for Children initiative

A global initiative, based at the University of Strathclyde, is launching a campaign to place children at the heart of justice at the United Nations (UN) in Geneva on Thursday, July 4.

The Justice for Children: Call to Action is working with internationally-recognised organisations to highlight the distinct realities of justice for children globally.

The work is being led by project director Professor Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director of the Strathclyde-based Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures, with support from international partners.

The Justice for Children: Call to Action is at the heart of the ‘Justice for Children, Justice for All: The Challenge to Achieve SDG16+’ initiative, commissioned by Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies’ Task Force on Justice to inform the next steps for the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 16. This goal aims to promote peaceful, inclusive societies for sustainable development and to provide access to justice for all.

The launch event will be held at the Human Rights Council at the UN’s Palais de Nations. It will be hosted by the UN Ambassadors for Belgium and the Republic of Botswana.

Peggy Hicks, Director of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Professor Philip D Jaffé, Director of the Centre for Children's Rights Studies (CCRS), will be amongst the leading human rights campaigners speaking at the launch.

Professor Jaffé said:

“Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child should compel us to be bold and address the reality of the continued injustices that many children experience in their daily lives. As a Member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, I am proud to join this Call to Action to secure justice in all its forms for children everywhere. A child justice system entails secure pathways to access child-friendly institutions that will act based on the rights of the child as a primary consideration.”  

 Dr Najat Maalla M’jad, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, said:

"Countless children involved with the justice system have a history of exposure to violence. In many states, the justice system is still not child-sensitive and used as a substitute to weak or non-existent child protection systems, leading to the stigmatisation, criminalisation and deprivation of liberty of children, including those who are the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, those living or working on the street, and those who have fled home as a result of poverty, armed conflicts, humanitarian disasters and violence.”

The Call to Action shares key messages and action points from the Challenge Paper on Justice for Children, which is being informed by a wider Technical Working Group made up of global experts on children rights.

 Professor Davidson said:

"The Sustainable Development Goals commit to ‘leaving no one behind’ but this cannot be fulfilled if the rights of children - and justice for all children - are not made a reality.

"Justice systems affect children in many ways; children are rights holders and can be human rights defenders, but also, children may be victims, witnesses, or accused of an offence, or intervention may be required for their care and protection. In each of these contexts, children must have access to specialist and differentiated justice systems that are in line with their stage of development, and recognise international law. Only then will children experience meaningful justice and be adequately protected from injustice.

“It is so important to stress that this is something that affects us all, not just children. By creating justice for children everywhere, and leaving no one behind, we are creating a fairer, safer world and society for us all to live in and flourish.

“We’re delighted that this valuable work has come to fruition after the dedicated efforts of our partners and supporting organisations; however, this is very much the start of our journey. We look forward to the launch and beyond, when we will focus on the implementation of the Call to Action Justice for Children into polices and legislation systems and practices that directly and indirectly impact on children around the world.”

The Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures is a joint venture between two Strathclyde-based centres, the Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice, and the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS) in partnership with the wider international research community.

The University of Strathclyde is a signatory to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which the UN has set to pursue justice, peace, good health, responsible use of resources and the eradication of poverty and hunger.

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