Many times, those most responsible – commanders and leaders – for the worst violations against children during armed conflict receive no punishment for their crimes. Without justice, children and their communities can never completely heal. Without the very real promise of punishment, there is no deterrent for potential perpetrators.
Our Office, United Nations Member States, and our partners have explored several avenues to bring perpetrators to justice and end, once and for all, the impunity that these violators of children currently enjoy.
The International Criminal Court and International Tribunals
In March 2012, the ICC issued a guilty verdict on Thomas Lubanga in its first ever case for the war crime of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 into the Forces patriotiques pour la liberation du Congo (FPLC). A reparation and sentencing hearing is expected to be held within the next few months.
In this case, Special Representative Mrs. Coomaraswamy and her Office gave legal testimony in the trial and submitted an Amicus Curiae which was heavily cited in the judgment.
Several other perpetrators have been indicted by the ICC including the notorious Joseph Kony—commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army—who has been responsible for the recruitment and use, the killing and maiming and other violations against children in the Central African region.
In December 2010, Colonel Innocent Zimurinda, among others, received sanctions for recruitment and use, killing and maiming of children, sexual violations, and denial of humanitarian access.
In conflicts such as Cote d’Ivoire, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Security Council sanctions committees have been established, individual violators of international law can and have already received targeted measures such as asset freezes and travel bans.
Naming and Shaming
The naming and shaming of perpetrators in the Secretary-General annual report on children and armed conflict and the ‘Most Persistent Violators’ lists have motivated many state and non-state actors to enter into action plans with the United Nations to end violations against children. Present and future political leaders and military commanders do not want their names on a Security Council list.