November 20, 2018 Jerusalem, Israel
Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
Human Rights Treaties Division (HRTD)
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais Wilson – 52, rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva (Switzerland)
Dear Honorable Members of the United Nations,
On the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), we, the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, appeal to you in order to improve the implementation of the rights of all children in the world.
Twenty-nine years ago, the world made a commitment to promote and protect the rights of its children. The Convention on the Rights of the Child constituted a major advance as it recognized children as right holders and created a positive obligation to treat them with equality, respect and dignity. Without doubt, the CRC has been an important source of inspiration for many countries and has led to substantial changes in laws to safeguard the child’s most fundamental human rights.
Despite these policies, an increasing number of children have been subjected to unspeakable violence in warfare in the past year. As verified by the United Nations, more than 21,000 serious transgressions of children’s rights have occurred from January to December 2017. One amongst many, is the use of children as human shields during hostilities – a tactic that has become increasingly present in contemporary conflict, notably in Gaza. Indeed, it is well known that Hamas – the de facto governing authority of the Gaza strip since 2007 – actively hides behind innocent lives to ensure its own survival. Children constitute one of its main targets as they are indoctrinated to an ideology of martyrdom and are incited to take part in suicide missions from a very young age. As a result, children become casualties of the cruelty of war, are deprived of normal childhood experiences and see their possible opportunities for the future reduced. More importantly, this practice comes as a serious breach to the very essence of the CRC. We express sincere concern for the future of children in the Middle East, as at the time of this writing, 230,000 children in Gaza are being indoctrinated and educated to an ideology of hatred.
We, the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, firmly condemn such immoral practices and believe, as per Ms. Virginia Gamba – the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflicts –, that parties to conflict should be shielding children from the atrocities of war instead of allowing them to be exploited as human shields, “when your own house or your school can be attacked without qualms, when traditional safe-havens become targets, how can boys and girls escape the brutality of war?”.
We are urging the international community to put an end to this policy and bring justice to the children.
The Jerusalem Institute of Justice (“JIJ”) is a not-for-profit human rights organization that works towards the cultivation of civil justice and democracy. Our sole focus is the development and defense of human rights and providing true democracy for all. More precisely, we hold our focus on the protection of the people who are especially vulnerable to abuse of human rights, particularly children in armed conflict.
Flavia Sevald, CEO
Jerusalem Institute of Justice