From 14-15 November 2022, my Office held a roundtable with national and international civil society organisations (CSOs) on crimes against and affecting children, at the seat of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. This is the first thematic roundtable in a broader initiative I launched in May 2022 to strengthen engagement with civil society.
This flagship event underlined that effective investigation and prosecution of crimes against and affecting children remains one of my key priorities. In my opening remarks, I underscored that “stronger capacity is necessary as children, like all other social groups, differ from each other in terms of age, gender, race, socio-economic status, and other conditions. Whilst all children suffer in war and will be harmed by virtually any violation of their rights, it is important to recognise the diversity of crimes committed and of children’s lived experiences, and the differential impact of armed violence based on their personal characteristics, including their gender and age.”
The event also provided an opportunity to discuss the Guidelines for Civil Society Organisations on documenting international crimes and human rights violations for accountability purposes, recently developed and launched by the ICC Prosecutor and Eurojust, with contributions from civil society organisations, national prosecutors, and international partners.
The outcomes of this roundtable will be fed into the ongoing work of our Office to strengthen and further enhance our policies and practices with respect to the investigation of crimes against children. Central to the improvement of our work in this area will be the deepening of our engagement with the civil society actors that participated in this event and the broader civil society community.
This is a first step in meeting my commitment to hold two thematic workshops a year to strengthen our engagement with local and international civil society actors. I look forward to working with these partners in setting the topic for our second roundtable to be held in May 2023.
It was delightful to see a broad geographic representation of participants from local and international CSOs as well as experts from the ICC, the United Nations, and Situation countries. We were honoured to hear the key-note opening statement from Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms Virginia Gamba.
I am particularly grateful to my Special Advisor on Crimes Against and Affecting Children, Mrs Véronique Aubert, and Head of Advocacy of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Mrs Virginie Amato, who have kindly assisted in the organisation of this event and contributed to its deliberations.
The two-day roundtable event was made possible through the support of the European Commission as well as voluntary contributions from States Parties to the OTP’s Trust Fund for Advanced Technology and Specialised Capacity.