VIENNA, 20-21 April 2021 — The annual OSCE-wide Counter-Terrorism Conference, organized by Sweden’s 2021 OSCE Chairpersonship with the support of the Action against Terrorism Unit of the OSCE Transnational Threats Department, gathered more than 500 participants including high-level representatives and experts from governments, state agencies, the United Nations (UN) and other international organizations, as well as representatives from the public and private sector, civil society, and academia.
Over the two-day Conference, participants shared good practices and lessons learned and explored ways to reinforce a comprehensive approach in preventing and countering terrorism and Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism (VERLT) that is a vital part of the OSCE’s anti-terrorism activities. “Terrorism is cruelty in its purest form. Innocent people are the target, and the sites of attack are difficult to predict. The aim is to instill fear in the population, and to destabilize our societies at the expense of peace and security,” said Ann Linde, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), stated “Terrorism continues to pose a great threat to international peace and security. The pandemic has magnified some of the terrorism strengths, exacerbating its underlined drivers because of its social and economic consequences (…). We must emerge from the COVID-19 crisis stronger and more unified in our collective fight against terrorism. Respect for human rights and rule of law and civil society are inalienable parts of our effort. The United Nations is committed to strengthen its inter-agency coordination under the Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact.
In July 2020, OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger and the Executive Director of UNODC, Ghada Fathi Waly, signed a plan of joint action for the period 2020-2022. This OSCE-UNODC Joint Action Plan reflects the two organizations’ contributions to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and allows for more streamlined co-operation in nine subject areas, including ‘combating transnational organized crime and corruption, preventing and countering violent extremism leading to terrorism’.
During her intervention, Alexandra Martins, Head of the UNODC Global Programme to End Violence Against Children, stressed out: “there is a need to ensure that the legal and policy framework can concomitantly protect society as well as children from the threats associated with terrorism. States should also invest in multi-sectoral and coordinated responses, by adopting child- and gender-sensitive approaches, and in fostering reconciliation and social cohesion in affected families and communities.” The UNODC Global Programme has been addressing specific efforts to increase the protection of children from terrorism and violent extremism, through tools such as the UNODC Roadmap on the Treatment of Children Associated with Terrorist and Violence Extremist Groups.
Over the course of the Conference, participants explored how to address violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism, tools for preventing terrorism and VERLT online within a human rights framework, and how to break the cycle and move away from violent extremism and stand up for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
UNODC END-VAC at the OSCE-wide Counter-Terrorism Conference 2021: protect society as well as children from the threats associated with terrorism... read more
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First Steps of the Bali Call for Action: Strengthen rehabilitation and reintegration strategies for children associated with terrorist groups.All Press Releases
15 April 2021 Abuja, Nigeria – The Government of Nigeria and its Office of the National Security Advisor (ONSA), together with the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNOD), launched the STRIVE Juvenile project in Nigeria aimed to prevent and respond to violence against children by terrorist and violent extremist groups. Through this new STRIVE action funded by the EU, UNODC and the Government of Nigeria will take action to develop coherent strategies that better serve and protect children by enhancing safe and resilient communities, in which human rights and the rule of law guide the approach to combating violent extremism.
Opening the meeting, Rear Admiral Y.E.M Musa, Head of Counter Terrorism Centre, ONSA stated that “the launch of the STRIVE Juvenile project provides an opportunity to demonstrate the firm commitment of the Nigerian Government to counter terrorism and highlights our efforts when it comes to preventing and countering violent extremism affecting children”. In the past years, Nigeria has been gravely affected by child recruitment by terrorist and violent extremist groups. Under the framework of its ‘National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism’, the Government of Nigeria provides a clear policy environment to develop interventions that promote stabilization, rehabilitation, and reintegration, in particular, in the most affected communities.
Child recruitment and exploitation is also a global threat, and especially so in recent years, as terrorist and violent extremist groups’ capacities to target children have reached far beyond countries affected by armed conflict. This phenomenon presents considerable regional, national, and even local variations. In line with the four pillars of the new EU’s Countering Terrorism Agenda: Anticipate, Prevent, Protect, and Respond, STRIVE Juvenile in Nigeria will aim at disrupting terrorist groups’ recruitment of children and promoting the rehabilitation and reintegration of children who have been associated with these groups, in collaboration with local communities.
Highlighting the European Union’s commitment to fight violence against children in all its forms, to protect children in vulnerable situations, and to promote child-friendly justice, Ms. Cécile Tassin-Pelzer, Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to the Federal Republic of Nigeria & ECOWAS, declared: “By seeking to address this issue and to rehabilitate and reintegrate these children, who have already suffered so much, back into society, Nigeria can set an important example to a region that continues to be gravely affected by this complex phenomenon.” In turn, Ms. Alexandra Martins, Head of UNODC’s Global Programme to End Violence Against Children, stressed that “supporting effective prevention of child recruitment, investing in rehabilitation and reintegration efforts, and promoting justice responses adapted to children, and also to the context of counter-terrorism, present a unique set of challenges for national governments but also a great opportunity to strengthen conditions conducive to development and resilience towards violent extremism.”
As part of its general mission to contribute to the achievement of security and justice for all by making the world safer from crime, drugs, and terrorism, UNODC also has the specific mandate to support Member States in ensuring that children are better served and protected by justice systems and has been addressing specific efforts to increase the protection of children from terrorism and violent extremism, such as through the UNODC Roadmap on the treatment of these children. Drawing on its experience and under its Global Programme to End Violence Against Children, UNODC, as executing agency, has designed and will implement the STRIVE Juvenile’s intervention in cooperation with Nigeria and two other selected partner countries, Indonesia, and Iraq.
Today’s launch of the STRIVE Juvenile Partnership between the European Union, UNODC and the
Government of Nigeria will help in taking the fight against terrorism further by preventing and countering violent extremism
affecting children, in full respect of human rights, gender equality and international law. During her intervention, Mrs.
Jummai Mohammed, Director Child Development, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, concluded “My heart bleeds to note that in
times and history of 'terrorism and violent extremism', the special protection accorded to children by international law has
been so widely disregarded (…). The life of children no longer has
for conflicting parties who use them! I feel so encouraged, however, by this joint initiative of the UNODC, the ONSA and sectoral
priorities other relevant Stakeholders".
29 March 2021 Jakarta, Indonesia – The European Union (EU) in cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and its Global Programme to End Violence Against Children, has launched a new STRIVE action, STRIVE Juvenile: Preventing and Responding to Violence against Children by Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups. Today, the Government of Indonesia officially joined the STRIVE Juvenile Partnership and will cooperate with UNODC within the next three years to prevent and counter violent extremism affecting children, in full respect of human rights, gender equality and international law.
Child recruitment and exploitation is a global phenomenon, and especially so in recent years, as terrorist and violent extremist groups’ capacities to target children have reached far beyond countries affected by armed conflict. But it also presents considerable regional, national, and even local variations. In line with the four pillars of the new EU’s Countering Terrorism Agenda: Anticipate, Prevent, Protect, and Respond, STRIVE Juvenile will aim at disrupting terrorist groups’ recruitment of children and promoting the rehabilitation and reintegration of children who have been associated with these groups.
“The EU is committed to fighting violence against children and to promoting child friendly justice”, highlighted Mr. Marc Vierstraete-Verlinde, Counter Terrorism Expert SEA. “Today, we are here to mark the beginning of a new and very important project, STRIVE Juvenile, because it puts these crucial objectives first (...) and recognizes that children can be extremely vulnerable to terrorist tactics, but they also have the power to transform societal dynamics. Investing in children and promoting their rehabilitation and reintegration means actively preventing violent extremism and building peaceful societies.”
Since 2015, UNODC has been addressing specific efforts to increase the protection of children from terrorism and violent extremism. One of the key tools of the Office, the UNODC Roadmap on the treatment of these children, provides a platform for national counterparts to turn guidance into action at national level. UNODC already engaged with Indonesian counterparts in the context of multiple regional activities. In Bali in March 2020, the Government of Indonesia launched the Bali Call for Action, a political declaration which endorses the UNODC Roadmap and commits to translating it into action at the national level. Within the STRIVE Juvenile Indonesia, UNODC will build on its expertise to implement innovative and demand-driven interventions focusing on two specific objectives: improving government strategies, policies and mechanisms related to child recruitment and exploitation by terrorist groups and increasing resilience of vulnerable children against terrorist groups agendas.
Mr. Collie Brown, UNODC Representative of the UNODC Programme Office for Indonesia, congratulated “the Government of Indonesia for the leadership and the ongoing commitment to ensuring protection of children associated with terrorist groups (...).” He also reiterated the fact that “UNODC is very pleased that our partnership with the Government of Indonesia, and in particular the National Counter Terrorism Agency, allows to support the important efforts the address this very complex and urgent area of work.”
Demonstrating strong political will in dealing with the phenomenon of child recruitment and exploitation by terrorist and violent extremist groups, the Government of Indonesia has played a leading role in the ASEAN region and globally by advocating for supporting the rehabilitation and reintegration of children associated with these groups.
The STRIVE Juvenile Partnership launched today will play a key role in disrupting terrorist groups’ recruitment of children, supporting children’s rehabilitation and reintegration, and strengthening their resilience against violent extremism. Ms. Alexandra Martins, Head, UNODC Global Programme to End Violence Against Children declared “UNODC’s mandates and experience in the area of violence against children and counter-terrorism enables us not only to gain access to professionals working in the security sector, and to those working for the protection of child rights, but also to build bridges between those sectors.”
25 March 2021 – In recent years, terrorist and violent extremist groups all over the world have made the recruitment and exploitation of children a staple of their tactics. This exposes children to prolonged and serious violence, affecting their well-being and their future as citizens. The international community has a key responsibility to promote the rehabilitation and reintegration that these children deserve entitled to.
To address this important issue, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Government of Japan gathered representatives from Indonesia, Maldives, Philippines and Sri Lanka, during a virtual two-day cross-regional event to discuss rehabilitation and reintegration practices related to children formerly associated with terrorist and violent extremist groups.
Rehabilitation and reintegration programmes must respond to multiple challenges: fostering the recovery of children, while at the same time supporting their return to society. UNODC has worked with numerous countries in South and South-East Asia since 2018, providing tailored support through regional capacity-building activities. Over the past year, thanks to the generous financial support of Japan, UNODC has provided tailored technical assistance services at the national level in Indonesia and the Maldives.
In recent years, Indonesia has placed the issue of children affected by terrorism at the forefront of the national agenda and worked to increase awareness of this phenomenon at the global level. As highlighted by Mr. Andhika Chrisnayudhanto, Deputy for International Cooperation of the National Counter Terrorism Agency of the Republic of Indonesia during the event, “UNODC has provided strong support to the efforts of the Government of Indonesia in this area since 2019. (…). We see an urgent need to garner international support for our work with these to the work on these children in three key areas: prevention of child association; rehabilitation and reintegration; and, justice for children in the context of counter-terrorism.”. He further stressed that the way these children are targeted remains a global problem that requires a national, regional and global response.
Providing insight on possibilities for effective responses to this complex phenomenon at the national level, Mr. Tholath Raufuddeen, Director General of the Monitoring, Rehabilitation and Security Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Republic of Maldives stressed that, it was “extremely important that national legislation recognizes that children linked with the FTF phenomenon are victims and should be treated as such.” This important statement also mirrors one of the key principles of the UNODC Roadmap on the Treatment of Children Associated with Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups, which insists that children need to be considered and treated primarily as victims, in line with international law.
The importance of putting into practice another key principle of the UNODC Roadmap, stating that there is no dichotomy between public safety and child rights, was then highlighted by Hon. Camilo G. Gudmalin, Undersecretary for Special Concerns and Alternate Chairperson of the Council for the Welfare of the Children Board, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), who stated that “the Republic of the Philippines strongly believes in the need to balance public safety and protection of child rights, to work on rehabilitation and reintegration.”
Sharing good practices from his country in the area of reintegration of former combatants, Maj. Gen. (Rt.) Darshana Hettiarachchi, Head of National Action Plan Head of National Action Plan on Preventing and Countering Radicalization, Violent Extremism and Terrorism, of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, stressed the importance of providing specific services adapted to the needs of children, stating that “protecting accommodations and rehabilitation centres function separately for children, women and men” in particular where excombatants follow a rehabilitation programme “as per international law”.
Despite the challenges related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the event served as a unique opportunity for States from South and South-East Asia to share and discuss lessons learned and good practices. While national contexts may be different, these four countries have one single goal in common: working together to find solutions to prevent and respond to violence against children by terrorist and violent extremist groups, including by laying the foundation for their rehabilitation and reintegration.
The importance of the cooperation and exchanges was also highlighted by Ms. Alexandra Martins, Head of the UNODC Global Programme to End Violence against Children, when concluding this important event: “Working together on this issue means working for children, working for our communities, and working for long-lasting peace: it is a commitment that cannot be postponed.”Access the Event Webpage
Following various repatriations in 2019, most recently, some 25 women and 73 children under the age of 18 were returned to the Republic of Uzbekistan from conflict zones in December 2020. 14 children had lost their parents and are orphans. Having faced violence and survived war, they now need to restart their life. To support the reintegration of children returned from conflict zones , the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Government of Uzbekistan with financial support from the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) held a three-day online capacity-building workshop for approximately 30 psychologists, sociologists, justice professionals, legal practitioners and representatives from ministries, associations and civil society organizations from the Republic of Uzbekistan.
The workshop provided participants with tailored approaches and practical guidance to implement effective and comprehensive support strategies, adapted to the needs of children affected by the foreign terrorist fighter (FTF) phenomenon, and to protect children who have returned from conflict zones from re-traumatization and secondary victimization. The workshop focused on the importance of considering both the legal and psychosocial factors when supporting children affected by the FTF phenomenon. Opening the workshop Mr. Koen Marquering, representing UNODC’s Regional Office for Central Asia, congratulated the Government of Uzbekistan for “its leadership in facilitating the return of its citizens and for the considerable resources invested in the design and implementation of legal and policy strategies, especially with respect to repatriation, rehabilitation and reintegration”.Mr. Marquering highlighted the importance of multi-sectoral efforts and congratulated the commitment of the participants in “contributing to mitigate the significant challenge being faced”. In his words, “these efforts serve as an example to the international community”.
Ms. Nodirakhon Bobokhonova, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan, noted in her statement that “only by adhering to the principle of the rule of law, will we be able to develop our society”. In her words, the judicial system went through many challenges during the pandemic, but ensuring the rights of people, especially children, has always been a priority. Ms. Bobokhonova highlighted the need to treat children returning from conflict zones as victims and afford them the special attention they deserve. Following this statement, Ms. Saule Mektepbayeva from the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT/UNCCT), congratulated the Government of Uzbekistan for its cooperation and the care being displayed in favour of children under the influence of terrorist groups. “It is a great honour to support the positive experience of Uzbekistan, which contributes to rendering the Central Asia region a leader in demonstrating that children are the core value of State policy”.
Ms. Dayan Farias Picon and Ms. Valerie Chmara, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer and Psychosocial Support Specialist, respectively, from UNODC’s Justice Section led participants through practical guidance and strategies for child-sensitive communication and age-, gender- and victim-sensitive approaches to mitigate the risk of re-traumatization and secondary victimization while interacting with these children. “Recognizing that these children experience violence and neglect differently and may face different and heightened consequences of trauma, the workshop aimed to support the government’s efforts to not only uphold children’s rights and strengthen legal protective measures, but also to urge legal professionals to comprehensively understand the unique context of each child, their particular experiences, and their specific developmental, behavioural and social needs”, stressed Ms. Dayan Farias Picon. “A special focus was placed on psychotherapy and psychosocial interventions for post-traumatic stress”.
This virtual workshop built on extensive work that UNODC has undertaken through its Global Programme to End Violence against Children, as well as efforts made in the region to support Members States in fighting the Foreign Terrorist Fighter (FTF) phenomenon. For further background on the UNODC approach to this phenomenon, please view: UNODC Roadmap on the Treatment of Children Associated with Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups.
Children who become associated with terrorist and violent extremist groups are exposed to violence, insecurity and neglect of their most basic needs. The Government of Indonesia is determined to tackle this phenomenon decisively, with UNODC’s support. In partnership with the Indonesian Counter-Terrorism Agency (BNPT) and with the support of Japan, UNODC organized a three-day capacity-building workshop focusing on planning rehabilitation and reintegration strategies for these children. Held on 11 – 13 November, the workshop brought together policy makers and professionals from the key national institutions involved in responding to the threat of terrorism in Indonesia and its devastating effects on children’s lives.
This workshop is not an isolated event. Rather, it is part of consistent efforts by the national government to strengthen policies and practices to support these children during their reintegration journey. In March 2020, the Government of Indonesia launched the “Bali Call for Action” (see the video). This historical political declaration endorses the ‘UNODC Roadmap for the Treatment of Children Associated with Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups’, and commits to turning its key principles into action at the national level. “UNODC has found an invaluable partner In the Government of Indonesia, to defend the cause of these children” stated Alexandra Martins, Coordinator of the UNODC Global Programme to End Violence against Children.
The national Government is committed to multiplying efforts in this area of work, including through the design and provision of specialized training. The workshop, which was held virtually to overcome travel and safety challenges linked to the COVID-19 crisis, responds to national needs to expand and harmonize existing practices in regards to rehabilitation and reintegration of children. Participants discussed the root causes of the phenomenon with UNODC experts, as well as practical strategies and tools to boost support for children through multi-disciplinary and coordinated approaches. “It is essential for these children to be recognized and treated as victims, if we want to promote a sense of belonging and support their futures,” says a professional from the Handayani rehabilitation centre.
In the course of the sessions, participants identified the key objectives of rehabilitation and reintegration strategies at the national level, to ensure that they effectively respond to the needs of children as well as those of their communities. In concluding the workshop, Indonesian policy-makers and professionals elaborated a series of recommendations to strengthen provisions concerning children in its forthcoming National Action Plan to Counter Terrorism.
On 20 November 2020, the international community celebrated the 31st anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989. For the Republic of Maldives, this day represented a historic moment as it marked the entry into force of its recently adopted 2019 Juvenile Justice Act.
UNODC has been working together with the Government in preparing the entry into force and the implementation of this comprehensive new national legal framework in the area of juvenile justice, which presents a milestone for children’s rights in the country.
Building on the Technical Assistance Needs Assessment (TANA) on Juvenile Justice conducted online earlier this year, the UNODC Global Programme to End Violence against Children teamed up with the Judicial Academy of the Maldives to deliver an ad hoc online training session for judges and magistrates from different atolls and courts throughout the Maldives. The training session focused on international law and standards in the area of juvenile justice while engaging in discussions about their practical implementation in national law, and more specifically, under the 2019 Juvenile Justice Act.
The initiative comes at a particularly timely moment as it will allow UNODC to better tailor its assistance to the Government during this important reform and pursue areas for further cooperation.
Thanks to the generous contribution of the Government of Japan, a “kick off” meeting was held between UNODC and representatives from the Government of Indonesia to commence a consultative process to support the Governments’ efforts in promoting the rehabilitation and reintegration of children associated with terrorist and violent extremists groups.
The Government of Indonesia has demonstrated significant leadership in addressing the complex challenges raised by the situation of children associated with terrorist and violent extremist groups. In March 2020, Indonesia, jointly with UNODC and the Government of Japan, co-organised a regional event held in Bali and, on that occasion, the Government of the Republic of Indonesia took an important step and officially launched the “Bali Call for Action”, a historical political declaration which endorses the “UNODC Roadmap on the Treatment of Children Associated with Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups” and committed to translate it into action at the national level.
As a result of the interest expressed in implementing the UNODC Roadmap, it was agreed that UNODC will undertake consultative meetings with various national counterparts to identify country priorities and technical assistance needs to protect children from terrorism. This process started in July and has the objective to provide a solid foundation and sound analysis to support implementation of the Bali Call for Action in Indonesia.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) held a series of online training events for more than 300 Kazakhstani professionals working to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of children returned from conflict zones in Syria and Iraq. These training events build on the extensive work that UNODC, through its Global Programme to End Violence against Children, has undertaken in support of Member States to ensure that children affected by terrorism are treated primarily as victims, and that the rehabilitation and reintegration of children is the primary aim of all interventions. To promote this goal, the Global Programme to End Violence against Children has provided technical assistance to over 35 countries in 6 different regions, and has developed a range of resources and tools on prevention and response to the recruitment and exploitation of children by terrorist and violent extremist groups. UNODC Newsroom
July 2020 – A virtual High-Level Round Table was held with national counterparts from the Republic of Maldives to present preliminary findings and opportunities of the Technical Assistance Needs Assessment (TANA) on Juvenile Justice conducted online by UNODC.
The assessment aims to support the Government’s efforts in the ongoing reform of the juvenile justice system. The Republic of Maldives was one of the first States to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991. Since then, the Government has taken significant steps to better protect and serve children in contact with the law and as part of an ongoing comprehensive reform of the juvenile justice system, the Juvenile Justice Act and the Child Rights Protection Act have been adopted in 2019.
During the Round Table, Honourable Mr. Ali Nazeer, Minister of State for Home Affairs, thanked UNODC by stating that "the Government of Maldives is keen to invest its resources to prevent children from coming into conflict with the law" and concluded on his "country's commitment to reform the juvenile justice sector (...).”
The Round Table was also featured in local media reports on 20 July, that can be accessed here.
A National Roundtable with representatives from the Government of Kazakhstan was held to validate the content of the UNODC Technical Assistance Needs Assessment Report on Prevention and Responses to Violence against Children by Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups, including children affected by the Foreign Terrorist Fighter (FTF) Phenomenon. The meeting was an important step towards strengthening collaboration between UNODC and the Government of Kazakhstan for promoting the rehabilitation and reintegration of child returnees from conflict zones.
Close to 11 million detainees including hundreds of thousands of children worldwide may be strongly impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. In many countries, detention facilities for children in particular do not meet the minimum requirements set forth in international and regional legal instruments. The lack of adequate healthcare services in these facilities can lead to the spread of the coronavirus disease, putting at severe risk not only detainees but also the staff, the families and communities. Therefore, the vulnerability of detention facilities to an outbreak of COVID-19 must be of grave concern to all countries and become an integral part of a national response to COVID-19.
PUBLIC HEALTH - Within detention facilities, COVID-19 prevention and control measures alone may prove insufficient due to several factors - overcrowding; increased vulnerability, including gender-based violence; illness, leading to staff reduction below acceptable levels for care and protection; increased number of detainees especially children deprived of liberty or those unable to be released due to closures of courts, suspension of trials, etc. - that equally undermine infection control measures and thus significantly increase the risk for infection, amplification and spread of COVID-19. Children, who are already more vulnerable because of the confined conditions, are also more likely to have compromised access to information about the outbreak, including much needed information about how to protect themselves, identify symptoms and seek treatment. Therefore, evidence-based COVID-19 prevention and control measures in detention facilities for children are urgently needed and should be implemented in full compliance with human rights and international standards and norms for justice for children and child protection.
UNODC’S POSITIONING AS PART OF THE OVERALL COVID-19 RESPONSE - UNODC has the mandate to support countries in preventing crime and violence and in strengthening justice systems. In particular, the work of UNODC to ensure that children – defined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child as all persons under the age of eighteen – are better served and protected by justice systems, has been implemented since 2015 through its Global Programme to End Violence against Children (Global Programme to END VAC). 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 Action. It was in response to the recent guidance issued by UNICEF and the Alliance on COVID-19 and Child Protection, and the identified need of States for more specific guidance in relation to children deprived of their liberty during the COVID-19 outbreak.
TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE IN RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC - The 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 and how to support children victims and witnesses and/or the role of the justice system in prevention of VAC (Violence Against Children). 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. In this context, the Global Programme’s action-oriented guidance is based on three key services:
1. Support to strategic planning to the public sector (Decongest juvenile detention facilities, Combat the COVID-19 outbreak within locations, Minimize risks of violence, exploitation and abuse).
2. Institutions and capacity building (Improve conditions of detention, Support the provision of legal aid and legal representation programmes, Enhance the probation services or other supervision/monitoring systems of non-custodial sanctions and measures, Support and strengthen independent inspection bodies, Support technology solutions that uphold children’s rights, Enhance national and local professional capacities to comply with international human rights standards).
3. Information, advocacy and awareness raising (Develop communication strategies, public information and education programmes to raise awareness about the protection of children deprived of liberty during the COVID-19 outbreak).
The vast majority of children deprived of liberty will eventually return to their communities. Thus, the failure to address protection and care needs for children could lead to a rapid increase in the transmission of COVID-19 within detention facilities, while compromising the safety and health of the general public. In the interest of public health protection, States should plan coordinated approaches to accommodate protection needs within detention facilities for children when devising and implementing their national response plans to ensure the recovery of the whole community.
Terrorism is a global threat that disproportionately affects children. On 3 - March 2020 high-level representatives from Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives and the Philippines gathered in Bali in an event co-organised by Japan, Indonesia and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reached political consensus on the urgency to tackle child recruitment and its consequences on children’s lives.
Opening the Event, the representative from Japan presented the value of the UNODC Roadmap for the guidance it contains on how to prevent child involvement with terrorist groups and how to rehabilitate and reintegrate these children. He pledged Japan’s continued support to countries for the implementation of the Roadmap.
In her remarks, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Ms. Bensouda, stated: “I applaud the UNODC Roadmap, which recognizes the need to work together and highlights areas closely linked to the mandate of my Office and of the Court, such as prevention and justice.” She also stressed the need to hold perpetrators of serious crimes against children accountable.
Building on its dual mandate on violence against children (VAC) and counter-terrorism, UNODC has been assisting countries facing these challenges for the past five years. Alexandra Martins, the coordinator of the UNODC Global Programme to End VAC, expressed how "children associated with terrorist groups are to be considered and treated primarily as victims”, highlighting that “investing on their rehabilitation and reintegration is not an alternative to security, but a pre-requirement because there is no dichotomy between preserving public safety and protecting children”.
During the event, participants discussed key areas of intervention, and benefitted from the contribution of a psychosocial expert from the ICC. She emphasized the importance of medical, social and psychological support adapted to the circumstances and needs of these children, providing technical advice on how to integrate such support in their treatment.
High-level discussions led to the identification of priority actions at national level. Representatives from Malaysia stressed education and awareness-raising as key components of any effective prevention strategy to protect children from recruitment. The Filipino delegation highlighted the need to ensure that children in situation of armed conflict are treated according to international law, as also reflected in the Key Principles of the Roadmap. One of the areas on intervention identified by the Government was the need to equip frontline officers with child-sensitive training and child-friendly communication skills.
The government of Indonesia illustrated current efforts towards the rehabilitation and reintegration of children affected by terrorism. As a result of the Event, Indonesia took a step ahead and officially launched the “Bali Call for Action”, 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.
Finally, the delegation from the Maldives endorsed the “Bali Call for Action”, underlining how these political commitments will be instrumental to addressing the situation of children affected by the Foreign Terrorist Fighters phenomenon. As a result of these advances, the Maldivian government requested UNODC’s assistance to become the first pilot country in the world to implement the UNODC Roadmap.
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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
The UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) and UNODC held a joint High-Level event on "Protecting Children Affected by Terrorism"
Organised on the margins of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, the purpose of this event was to launch the UNCCT handbook on "Children Affected by the Foreign-Fighter Phenomenon: Ensuring a Child Rights-Based Approach," and to present the UNODC Comprehensive Training Package on Children Recruited and Exploited by Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups. UNCCT and UNODC joined forces to support Member States that request assistance to address issues related to children affected by terrorism... 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... see the UNODC Roadmap & read more