Child protection from violence, exploitation and abuse

Archbishop Desmond Tutu launches book on children and transitional justice

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© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-0356/Markisz
Archbishop Desmond Tutu during an interview at UNICEF headquarters in New York.

NEW YORK, USA, 9 March 2010 – Today, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited UNICEF House, where he met with UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman and launched a new publication that explores why any successful transition from war to peace must ensure that children have a place – and a voice – in helping to build a peaceful and stable future.

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In endorsing the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre and Harvard University Law School book, 'Children and Transitional Justice: Truth-Telling, Accountability and Reconciliation', Archbishop Tutu said: “The death and suffering of children in times of conflict and instability make it clear that the world has failed to prioritize the rights and well-being of children. Transitional justice processes are a chance to set things right, and their success or failure depends to a large degree on how they involve children.”

Recovering from conflict
The vision and ambition of transitional justice is to enable societies that have been torn apart by conflict and violence to recover, and to empower individuals – victims, witnesses and perpetrators – to recount their experiences and agree on a measure of justice as a guide for their future.

'Children and Transitional Justice' analyzes practical experiences to determine how the range of international courts, truth commissions and traditional processes can be applied, both to improve accountability for crimes perpetrated against children and to protect the rights of children involved. It explores safe and meaningful child participation in different circumstances.

“Children have to be involved,” said Archbishop Tutu. “What are the things which happened to them and could have been prevented? What can we learn from them? Children’s involvement can change our understanding of war and peace, and inform decisions about the future.”

Human rights champion
Archbishop Tutu is the former Chair of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a human rights champion who has dedicated his life to the vulnerable and the dispossessed. In the words of former South African President Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu is "sometimes strident, often tender, never afraid and seldom without humour.… His voice will always be the voice of the voiceless.”

The Archbishop raised that voice today as he spoke to UNICEF about the current situation of children, and what must be done.

“I am appalled at the things that we adults have done in turning the world into a hostile place for children,” he said. “We turn children into labourers; we turn children into child soldiers; we traffic in children; we use children as sex slaves – but that is not the total picture. There are organizations such as UNICEF who try to ameliorate and make better the situation of children.”

Archbishop Tutu cited the three most important things that world leaders must do to change the situation of children. “They must provide the resources for all children to be inoculated, provide the resources for children – especially girl children – to get to school, and thirdly, make it impossible for awful adults to turn children into slaves,” he said.

A message for Haiti
Finally, Archbishop Tutu had a message for those who have endured so much in Haiti.   “I would say to them, ‘The world cares. Something awful happened to you, the world did not turn away from you. You have a chance to rebuild your beautiful country, and the world is there wanting to help.’” 


 

 

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9 March 2010: UNICEF Communication Specialist James Elder interviews Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
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