Overview by Emma Bakkum, Research Associate PILPG-NL
Fatou Bensouda – Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court
Roméo Dallaire – Founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative
Samuel Emonet – Director of Operations at JRR
Sabine Nolke – Ambassador of Canada to the Netherlands
The newly launched ICC Policy on Children was praised by all panelists.
The cooperation between the Child Soldiers Initiative, the JRR and IICI aims to ensure that international crimes involving children are addressed appropriately and systematically.
Several issues in preventing and creating accountability for the recruitment and use of children were discussed, such as the cooperative roles of the ICC and civil society, the gap between international efforts and national implementation, the moral dilemma of soldiers and police officers when facing child soldiers and rehabilitation.
During this roundtable discussion, ways to prevent and create accountability for the recruitment and use of child soldiers were discussed. It focused specifically on the cooperative roles of the ICC and civil society to address the issue. The panelists emphasized international achievements, including the newly launched ICC’s policy on children by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, which will serve as a framework for prevention and prosecution of child related crimes at the ICC and as a useful reference to national authorities, civil society and other actors involved. Furthermore, the work that has been delivered by the Child Soldiers Initiative, JRR and the IICI in improving investigations into the use of child soldiers, was highlighted.
While the international community has made great strides to expose and prosecute crimes involving children, it was strongly underlined that more has to be undertaken as children are still disproportionately affected by war. The panelist discussed several issues, such as the implementation gap between international efforts and the national level. Dallaire furthermore discussed the moral dilemma of soldiers and police officers when facing child soldiers. According to Dallaire, these soldiers and police officers need to be an integral part in the solution.
During the Q&A further issues on rehabilitation and the role of the OTP, JRR and Child Soldiers Initiative as well as the role of the UN Security Council in preventing the use of child soldiers were raised. Emonet suggested that to reach accountability for crimes against children, JRR and its roster of experts could serve a complementary role in investigations by the ICC. While Bensouda mentioned that the problems of trauma and addiction during rehabilitation should be taken into account, Dallaire stated that years of efforts on rehabilitation have helped, but that the real essence of the problem is prevention. That is why the Child Soldiers Initiative trains military police forces to get children out of conflict situations. Lastly, gender differences and the role of girls as child soldiers and the way they experience pain differently from boys, as well as the importance of women as peacekeepers were mentioned.