New York launch for Justice for Children initiative

The Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice (CYCJ) is supporting a global justice initiative that launches in New York City on July 11th.

The Justice for Children: Call to Action is working with internationally-recognised organisations to highlight the distinct realities of justice for children globally. This campaign 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 work is being led by project director Professor Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director of the University of Strathclyde Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures, in collaboration with many outstanding internationally-recognised partners, including the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children and the Child Justice Advocacy Group, with Terre des hommes and Defence for Children International.

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 Call to Action shares key messages and action points from the Challenge Paper on Justice for Children. This is being informed by a wider Technical Working Group made up of global experts on children rights, in which Nina Vaswani, CYCJ’s Research Associate was involved.

CYCJ’s Fern Gillon also produced a brief literature review informing the Challenge Paper, bringing together key themes and messages from global learning on children, and young people’s views and experiences of their participation in justice.

The New York launch is a side event of the UN High Level Political Forum, being hosted by the Belgian Mission.

It follows on from the European launch, which took place on July 4 at the Human Rights Council at the UN’s Palais de Nations in Geneva. It was hosted by the UN Ambassadors for Belgium and the Republic of Botswana, and featured speeches by Peggy Hicks, Director at the UN Office at the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Professor Philip Jaffé, Director of the Centre for Children’s Rights Studies and a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, as speakers.

Speakers at the New York launch will include the newly appointed UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Dr Najat Maalla M’jad; Howard Taylor, Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children; Manaff Kemokai, President of Defence for Children International based in Sierra Leone; and Professor Jennifer Davidson.

Peggy Hicks said: “This is a key moment. As we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), there is no better time to demonstrate global leadership, not only on behalf of those who are children today, but for the approximately 1 billion children who will be born in the coming decade: the children who will inherit a post-SDG world.

“In spite of near-universal ratification of the CRC, millions of children around the world continue to be left behind and their rights denied, particularly those who are the most discriminated against or living in precarious situations of vulnerability – such as children in detention, on the streets, in institutions or in migration situations. Children also suffer the impacts of poverty, violence, inequality and exclusion disproportionately, due to their sensitive phase of life and development.

“This Call to Action goes to the heart of our challenge. Unless we identify, and then seek to resolve – and, ideally, prevent – the critical challenges that obstruct the fulfilment of their rights; that preclude the meeting of children’s critical needs; and that inhibit the securing of their opportunities, for many children we will continue to fall far short.”

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.”

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 Justice for Children: Call to Action into polices and legislation systems and practices that directly and indirectly impact on children around the world.”

How can you help?

We are keen to add to our growing list of endorsers for the Call to Action, to ensure this campaign receives the global acclaim and support it needs to effectively highlight and promote the substantive and meaningful delivery of enhanced justice for children throughout the world.

If your organisation would be willing to provide its endorsement, please click here to complete a simple form to confirm this, and attach your organisational logo.

Thank you in advance for any support that you can give to this project, which we hope will be an important milestone for progress to be made for justice – for all.

Contact iicf-enquiries@strath.ac.uk with enquiries.

Follow the launch and progress of this initiative on Twitter via

#sdg16j4c        #Justice4Children       #SDG16Plus     #InspiringChildrensFutures

Contact Us

Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice
University of Strathclyde
Lord Hope Building, Level 6
141 St. James Road Glasgow G4 0LT

(0141) 444 8622

cycj@strath.ac.uk

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