It is my great honor to note today’s release for public comment of the draft Policy on Children of the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor.
Since my December 2012 appointment as Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s Special Adviser on Children in and affected by Armed Conflict, I’ve had the privilege of helping to convene consultations and taking part in the construction of this draft Policy. As part of that process, as noted on page 11 of the draft, we at the Dean Rusk International Law Center, University of Georgia School of Law, were honored in October 2014 to host the Prosecutor, members of her staff, and nearly 2 dozen other experts from academic, nongovernmental groups, and intergovernmental organizations. Our “Children & International Criminal Justice” conference featured a morning public plenary and Prosecutor’s keynote (pictured below), followed by an afternoon of closed-door breakout sessions. (Proceedings from that event, to appear in our Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law, are nearing publication.)
Addressed in the draft Policy, which spans 37 pages, are:
► Overarching concerns, such as the nature of a child and childhood, the experiences of children in armed conflict and other contexts within the jurisdiction of the ICC, and how the Rome Statute of the ICC and other documents treat crimes against and affecting children; and
► Practical concerns, such as how the Office of the Prosecutor engages with children, in all aspects of its work, including preliminary examination, investigation, charging, prosecution, sentencing, reparations, and external relations.
As stated in the press release accompanying today’s publication:
In highlighting the importance of the Policy, Prosecutor Bensouda stated: “when I assumed the role of Prosecutor in June 2012, one of the principal goals I set for the Office was to ensure that we pay particular attention not only to ‘children with arms’, but also ‘children affected by arms.’ This Policy demonstrates our firm commitment to closing the impunity gap for crimes against or affecting children, and adopting a child-sensitive approach in all aspects of our work bearing in mind their rights and best interests. It is also our hope that the Policy, once adopted, will serve as a useful guide to national authorities in their efforts to address crimes against children.”
The Office welcomes public comment on the draft. Such comments should be e-mailed to OTPLegalAdvisorySection@icc-cpi.int, no later than Friday, August 5, 2016.
Following revisions based on the comments, the Office of the Prosecutor expects to publish the final Policy on Children in November of this year.