Strengthened collaboration and a child-friendly justice: conclusions of the 2015 World Congress on Juvenile Justice
The Congress, which was jointly organized by the Swiss government and the Terre des hommes Foundation, saw more than 900 delegates from over 90 states and from civil society gather for the first time. This meeting encouraged stakeholders on the international stage to work together to improve responses to the issue of children in conflict with the law, as well as children victims and witnesses.
The very high attendance, with more than 900 participants in the presentations and workshops, demonstrated a strong will to improve practices in the field of juvenile justice and to place the restorative approach of juvenile justice at the heart of the process. Although juvenile justice is regulated by a sizeable number of international instruments, in practice, their implementation is often insufficient, as was underlined by Alexandre Fasel, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the UN in Geneva. The World Congress therefore served as a forum for dialogue which enabled the exchange of good practices in legal and reinsertion procedures for youth in conflict with the law.
The year of recognition for juvenile justice
The high-profile international event also focused on the responses to various specific situations children are face with. “We must find solutions which don’t hinder the child’s development, but favor it,” noted Jean Zermatten, Founder of the International Institute for the Rights of the Child and former President of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
The World Congress on Juvenile Justice was concluded with the adoption of a Final Declaration aiming to promote the principles of a child-friendly and restorative justice. As the President of the NGO Defence for Children International, Benoît Van Keirsbilck stated, “We can hope that in a few years, when we look back, we will identify this Congress as the one that enabled a significant evolution of our perception of children and of how we treat them.”