ICTJ: For Social Change to Take Root, Children Must be Involved in Truth-seeking

Dear friends,
Children and young people are particularly affected by conflict and mass atrocity, whether they are forced to fight or have access to critical social services like education interrupted. As the leaders of tomorrow, children must be included in transitional justice processes wherever countries are looking to break from legacies of violence.

Today, Universal Children’s Day, ICTJ is shining a light on the need to actively engage children in truth-seeking processes.  The International Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted 26 years ago, guarantees children a right to participate and be heard. In our work around the world, we regularly hear children and young people express their desire to have a say in building a brighter future for themselves and their countries by learning about past atrocities.


To mark this important day, I am pleased to share with you a
series of reflections and helpful tools drawing upon our Children and Youth unit’s work in Kenya.

I believe you will find of particular interest our video, “
Voices of Tomorrow,” featuring Mark and Sharon, two young people who discuss their experiences participating in the proceedings of Kenya’s Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC). Their strength and positive outlook for themselves and their country’s future are truly inspirational.

Transitional justice practitioners will want to take time to watch two instructional videos produced by ICTJ, which provide guidance for the inclusion of children in truth commissions. Based on interviews with former Kenya TJRC commissioners, child protection agencies, and international experts, the videos present key insights from their practical experience. They will be valuable tools for countries and communities seeking to establish truth-seeking processes.

Educators will be interested in Learning From Our Past. Developed in collaboration with the TJRC, Facing History and Ourselves, and Shikaya, this illustrated booklet based on the TJRC final report is designed to guide discussions about the past among students and spark their conversations about strengthening justice, and building democracy and social cohesion in Kenya. Booklets like this can help ensure that children remain engaged in the transitional justice process well beyond the act of testifying before a truth commission.

Finally, I would also like to share with you an ambitious research project that ICTJ has embarked on with UNICEF. After two and a half years of work, this week we published a
report on the links between transitional justice, education, and peacebuilding. Education can play a vital role in disrupting intergenerational cycles of violence, and understanding the interactions between the education sector and transitional justice processes is crucial to ensuring communities successfully address legacies of mass violence.

A book compiling this important research will be published in spring 2016, and in the intervening months we will be publishing a series of papers and analysis pieces examining different countries and themes. In the meantime, I encourage you to listen to this
podcast exploring some of our researchers’ findings.

We want to hear from the youth. We want to engage with young people working towards a better tomorrow. Please share your thoughts with us on
Twitter (using hashtag #ChildrensDay), Facebook, or by email to communications@ictj.org.


Thank you,

David Tolbert, President
International Center for Transitional Justice 

Author: Max Bartels

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