Benoit Van Keirsbilck, President of Defence for Children International, was present as panellist at the High level symposium “Regards croisés sur deux décennies d’application de la CDE au Nord et au Sud de la Méditerranée”, which took place on the 21st of November in Monte-Carlo, under the auspices of the Princess and the Prince of Monaco. The symposium was enriched by the presence of some experts of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and representatives from national child rights institutions, academia and non-governmental organisations.
Mr Van Keirsbilck talked about the role of the NGO in different phases of the creation, adoption and then implementation of the CRC. The preparatory work on the CRC started in 1979, the year of DCI’s founding. DCI, with other organisations and especially BICE, helped to draft the Convention and to follow-up to its engagements. Many NGOs (only the international ones) have contributed to the creation of the CRC. In the follow-up to the CRC, NGOs are playing a crucial role, including lobbying and advocacy.
Mr Van Keirsbilck then made some concrete examples of the work of our national sections: Sierra Leone (Socio-Legal Defence Centre), Uganda (monitoring prisons), Palestine (assistance to children in conflict with the law); observatory work in Latin America, campaigning in Costa Rica against the lowering of the minimum detention age, and DCI’s work in Belgium to ensure the state`s judgement regarding migration issues by a tribunal conducted by children. He noted that because the Committee needs civil society, DCI, through the IS in Geneva, can support national sections as they report to the UN treaties and mechanisms. Finally Mr van Keirsbilck made reference to DCI`s commitment to child-friendly justice at the international level. Some potential challenges to ensuring worldwide juvenile justice include the difficult situation of the human rights defenders of children’s rights in some and the multitude of issues surrounding juvenile justice. Furthermore, Mr. Van Kerisblick discussed the important role of business in reaching these goals.
The final speaker of the seminar was Ms. Séverine Joliat of the Interagency Panel on Juvenile Justice (IPJJ), who presented the unique role of the Panel composed of UN and NGOs working in the field of juvenile justice.