2009: First World Congress on Child Justice
Since 2009, Terre des hommes brings together justice professionals, child protection specialists and young people from all over the world every 3-5 years at an international congress. This event promotes cooperation and strengthens children's access to a justice that is adapted to their needs and respects their rights. This work also continues outside of the framework of the Congress.
In June 2009, more than 1000 judges, lawyers, child protection specialists and civil society organisations from 55 countries gathered in Lima, Peru, for the first edition of the World Congress on Juvenile Justice. "This first congress was a decisive step in rethinking our justice systems for children and young people. It resulted in the Lima Declaration, which represents an important technical tool, but above all the first global consensus of specialists on restorative practices adapted to children in conflict with the law", explains Cédric Foussard, Tdh child justice adviser.
Improving practices and laws
As the only world congress on child-friendly justice, a strong emphasis is placed on the participation of state representatives. "The involvement of governments makes it possible to give the international event an official scope and to drive systemic change," adds Cédric Foussard. Thanks to this advocacy work, which also continues outside the Congress, Tdh has contributed to many national, regional or international legislative advances to include the rights and best interests of the child in laws and their application.
Taking non-formal justice into account
After Lima in 2009, the following congresses took place in Geneva in 2015 and in Paris in 2018. These events are also an opportunity to create links between formal, informal, religious and civil actors. Why? "According to estimates, around 80% of court rulings around the world are handed down in the framework of so-called non-formal or traditional justice that do not fall under state control," explains Yann Colliou, head of the access to justice programme at Tdh. At the World Congress in Paris in 2018, we facilitated the visit of traditional judges from Lebanon and Burkina Faso, and opened dialogue on child justice practices in their communities.
A worldwide network of professionals
Following the Paris Congress in 2018, we created the Global Initiative on Justice with Children, in collaboration with our partners, which aims to oversee the organisation of the congresses and to create a global community of specialists through the online platform www.justicewithchildren.org. "This initiative allows us to maintain links between all the actors," adds Cédric Foussard. "Within this framework, Tdh organises regional and national meetings to follow up on the decisions taken at the previous congress and to prepare the next one.”
Ensuring the participation of children and young people
At the 2018 World Congress on Justice for Children in Paris, young people themselves took part in the debate: "We came here to listen, but also to talk. We don't want you to feel sorry for us, but we want our experiences and views to be the starting point for your words and actions".
Scheduled for the end of 2021, the next World Congress will take place in Mexico and will put children's participation at the centre. It will now focus on justice WITH children.
A look into the past: this is the eighth article of 10 about the history of Terre des hommes on our 60th anniversary.