Children in contact with the justice system

UNODC's work in the area of both violence against children and justice for children is based on three  mutually reinforcing pillars:

i) Data collection, research, and analytical work: this focuses on crime and the operation of criminal justice systems, as well as the development of standards and indicators for national crime and criminal justice information systems in relation to violence against children. 

ii) Normative work: as the Secretariat of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and the UN Crime Congress, UNODC assists Member States in developing United Nations standards and norms related to violence against children and justice for children. 

iii) Operational work: UNODC implements technical cooperation projects to prevent child and youth involvement in crime, to strengthen child justice systems, and to promote the rehabilitation and reintegration of children in contact with the law and thus, to help end violence against children and enhance justice for children systems.

UNODC END VAC Programme four key thematics


Crime and Violence Prevention: the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime makes concerted efforts aimed at preventing child involvement in crime and violence... read more  

Juvenile Justice: UNODC seeks to ensure the appropriate treatment of children in conflict with the law (i.e. alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law)... read more 


Child Victims and Witnesses: the Global Programme seeks to prevent violence and provide effective response when child victims and child witnesses of crime are in contact with the justice system... read more 

Children Associated with Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups: the Global Programme raises awareness of the need for effective prevention strategies and responses to violence against children committed by terrorist and violent extremist groups, including children who are affected by the Foreign Terrorist Fighters phenomenon... read more 

Services provided to Member States under the UNODC GP to END VAC include: 


Collection of Data Evidence

The collection and analysis of data and evidence is essential to establishing a broader evidence base on preventing and responding to violence against children and to inform, develop and  enhance existing programmes and interventions in this area. In this regard, UNODC places a special emphasis on collecting evidence and carrying out research on the situation of the most vulnerable in society, especially children deprived of their liberty, and on the performance of the justice system in preventing and responding to violence against children.


Legal Advisory Services

The provision of legal advisory services are  essential to define the boundaries of the justice system and legitimize its work. To ensure and promote child rights and to end violence against children, States need to adopt legislation that is in compliance with the provisions contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as other relevant international standards and norms. UNODC provides legal advisory services to review legislative and regulatory frameworks, identify gaps and recommend action to comply with the requirements of the international legal framework in the areas of violence against children and justice for children. 


Support to Strategic Planning and to the Public Sector

The provision of advisory services and technical input to design, implement and monitor child justice reform strategies and action plans at national and local levels is critical to the success of efforts to end violence against children. UNODC  provides support to review and improve organizational design and management processes relating to the implementation of violence against children and justice for children reform; develop strategies and establish mechanisms of coordination among government and judicial institutions; develop procedures and management of legal aid programs; develop and strengthen integrated database and tracking mechanisms for children's cases in the criminal justice system; and improve allocation of financial and other resource management.


Institution and Capacity Building 

In  order to end violence against children, it is important to strengthen institutions and build the capacity of professionals.  UNODC develops national and local capacities and skills relevant to the areas of violence against children and justice for children. Key recipients of these activities include, judges, magistrates, prosecutors, law enforcement officials, detention facility staff, probation service staff, and social workers. Assistance may be provided to develop training curricula and deliver training activities on a variety of issues relevant to the areas of violence against children and justice for children.


Communication and Advocacy

Effective communication and advocacy strategies are crucial to raise awareness of the phenomenon of violence against children. Furthermore, given the influence culture and the norms of society play in the development of jurisprudence, ensuring the effective engagement of the media and civil society in communication and advocacy, is another key service provided by UNODC to support positive change.


Children's Knowledge and Participation 

Based on the recognition that children must be considered as actors in their own protection through use of knowledge of their rights, and ways of avoiding and responding to risks, a key programmatic component for UNODC is to promote and ensure the effective participation of children in decisions and interventions affecting them.

Coordination and  Collaboration

To take into account the fact that responsibilities are often spread across government agencies, with services delivered by local authorities, non-State providers, and community groups, UNODC acknowledges the essential need to ensure the coordination and collaboration of different stakeholders  in efforts aimed to prevent and respond to violence against children in the field of crime prevention an criminal justice.


The mandate and role of UNODC in providing assistance in the areas of violence against children and  justice for children has been reaffirmed by several resolutions of the General Assembly (GA), the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and the Human Rights Council (HRC). These include:  

GA Resolutions

62/ 158 (18 December 2007)

63/241 (24 December 2008)

65/213 (21 December 2010)

67/166 (20 December 2012)

68/189 (18 December 2013)

69/194 (18 December 2014)

ECOSOC Resolutions

2007/23 (26 July 2007)

2009/26 (30 July 2009)

2016/18 (26 July 2016)

2017/17 (6 July 2017)

2019/21 (23 July 2019) 

HRC Resolutions

7/29 (28 March 2008)

10/2 (25 March 2009)  

18/12 (29 September 2011)


Recent News

UNODC Global Programme to END VAC contributed to the Inter-Agency Technical Guidance on COVID-19 and Children Deprived of Liberty 

In April 2020, UNODC took part in an inter-agency process and contributed to the development of an Inter-Agency Technical Guidance on COVID-19 and Children Deprived of Liberty. The interagency group is composed of UN entities and CSOs and is a joint effort with the Alliance on Child Protection in Humanitarian ActionThe Inter-Agency Technical Guidance is aimed to provide States with recommendations on how to ensure the well-being of children in detention during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to this Guidance, UNODC, through its Global Programme to END VAC, offers a number of Technical Assistance Services to support Member States, upon request, in better protecting the rights of children in detention during the COVID-19 outbreak... read more and see The Inter-Agency Technical Guidance and UNODC-ENDVAC COVID-19 Response Webpage

Protecting children from terrorism: Indonesia launched the “Bali Call for Action for the implementation of the UNODC Roadmap” 

March 2020 - High-level representatives from Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives and the Philippines gathered in Bali in an event co-organised by Japan, Indonesia and UNODC reached political consensus : the 'Bali Call for Action'. Launched by the government of Indonesia, the “Bali Call for Action”, is a political declaration which endorses the UNODC Roadmap and commits to translate it into action at national level. With this initiative, Indonesia also called upon Member States to join this historical declaration as a unique opportunity to adopt a common approach to protect children from terrorism... read more

UNODC Roadmap on the Treatment of Children Associated with Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups highlighted at the COTER Meeting, European Council  

UNODC participated in the meeting organised by the Working Party on Terrorism (COTER) of the European Council and presented the UNODC Roadmap on the Treatment of Children Recruited and Exploited by Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups. The meeting was a first step in enhancing the partnership between UNODC and the European Council towards protecting children from terrorism and supporting Member States to overcome the challenges associated with this phenomenon...  read more

UNODC Roadmap on the Treatment of Children Associated with Terrorist and Violent Extremist groups

The Roadmap is the result of 3 years of technical assistance work by UNODC to Member States that are affected by this phenomenon. It builds upon the twofold mandates of UNODC in the areas of violence against children and counter-terrorism, as well as on an increased understanding of the challenges and promising practices in this area. The Roadmap aims in priority to achieve an enhanced system-wide coherence that supports national priorities and needs... read more 

Useful links

UN Strategies & Measures on the Elimination of VAC  

Convention on the Rights of the Child

UNODC Global Programme END VAC Handbook 

UNODC Global Programme END VAC Factsheet

Newsroom & Multimedia


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