Children in Armed Conflict: Victims, Survivors, Witnesses, and Perpetrators

On 28 January, The Hague Institute, in cooperation with the Embassy of Canada to the Netherlands, hosted a panel discussion on “Children in Armed Conflict: Victims, Survivors, Witnesses and Perpetrators”.

Children’s exposure to armed conflict has increased in recent years. Despite progressively more robust international norms and monitoring, an ever greater number face violations including rape and sexual violence, recruitment as soldiers, killing and maiming, attacks against schools and hospitals, abductions, and restriction of humanitarian access. Children are unquestionably victims, but they are also survivors, witnesses, and sometimes perpetrators.

In order to promote the rights and protection of children, the international community has increasingly focused on accountability for the perpetrators of violence against children in armed conflict, as well as the challenging issue of the responsibility and rehabilitation of children who have themselves committed grave crimes. Much remains to be done to ensure that children are adequately protected.

The Embassy of Canada and The Hague Institute welcomed children’s rights experts and practitioners. The panel examined the particular vulnerability of children in conflict situations; the inherent challenges in dealing with children as victims, survivors, witnesses, and perpetrators; and how these challenges should inform policy regarding investigations involving children in domestic and international legal processes as well as the possible rehabilitation of child perpetrators of serious crimes.


  • Lieutenant-General (ret.) The Honourable Roméo A. Dallaire
    Former Senator and Force Commander for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda and founder of The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, an organization committed to ending the use of child soldiers worldwide
  • Stephen Rapp
    Former US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues and former Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone
  • Professor Dr. Ton Liefaard
    Professor of Children’s Rights at Leiden University Law School
  • Shamila Batohi
    Senior Legal Advisor to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court
  • Dr. Abi Williams, Welcome Remarks
    President of The Hague Institute
  • H.E. Sabine Nölke, Moderator
    Canadian Ambassador to the Netherlands



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