Swiss Press Release, 30 January 2015

Some 900 delegates from more than 80 countries attended the 5-day World Congress on Juvenile Justice in Geneva, the first such international meeting on this issue. Experts and representatives of civil society, governments and international organisations worked together to find better solutions for children and young people in conflict with the law, as well as child victims, and child witnesses. A final declaration was adopted.

Co-organised by Switzerland and the Terre des hommes Foundation, the World Congress on Juvenile Justice was a forum for the exchange of experiences among various countries and legal systems. In particular, it enabled participants to examine the extent to which judicial practices comply with international standards. The very large number of participants – more than 900 people registered for the workshops – demonstrates the desire of all international actors to improve these practices and to strengthen the mechanisms to implement children's rights.

Indeed, although a significant number of international instruments regulate juvenile justice, their implementation is all too often woefully inadequate in practice. The World Congress was a forum for dialogue which facilitated the exchange of best practices for judicial proceedings and the reintegration of minors in conflict with the law. The concept of restorative justice was a central topic addressed by the congress.

Recognising that juvenile justice is an aspect of children's rights that has not received the international attention it deserves (some NGOs consider this to be a silent emergency), the World Congress on Juvenile Justice concluded with the adoption of a final declaration aimed at promoting the principles of child-friendly justice and restorative justice.

The Congress was opened on Monday by the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter. Mr Burkhalter noted that despite the efforts that have already been made in the area of juvenile justice, much remains to be done. He also emphasised that Switzerland will continue to support the efforts of the United Nations system to strengthen juvenile justice and promote restorative justice, as well as to eliminate of all forms of violence against children, be they children in conflict with the law, child victims or child witnesses.

Official Website of the Congress.

Videos, pictures and social media by Terre des hommes.

Final declaration.

docxArticle of Bernard Boëton (in French) in Le Temps, 23 January 2015