Including Children in Implementing Peace: Podcast with Messeh Kamara

1/27/2012

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Children are among those most affected by the consequences of conflict and repression. As of 2010 over one billion children worldwide lived in territories affected by armed conflict. Yet the idea of incorporating children's participation in post-conflict or post-authoritarian transitional justice measures is surprisingly new.

At the formal launch last week of ICTJ's report "Through a New Lens: A Child-Sensitive Approach to Transitional Justice," ICTJ president David Tolbert, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy, and former president of the Sierra Leone Children's Forum Network Messeh Kamara explored how to better incorporate the perspectives and needs of children in these processes.

Following the discussion, ICTJ spoke further with Messeh Kamara about his experience growing up during the Sierra Leone civil war and the instrumental role he played in advocating for the inclusion of children in truth and justice processes after the conflict.

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Kamara argues that a transitional justice process that successfully takes a child-sensitive approach will include the voices of youth not just in the consultation phase, but also in the implementation of recommendations.

"Consultation is not just when you call a group of children together and ask them about their views… consultation must go beyond that, to also involve children in the implementation of these processes... without implementation, there is no point to be engaged in these processes."

He suggested other truth and reconciliation measures—such as in Kenya—look at the failures and success of the Sierra Leone process.

Kamara commended the work of ICTJ in producing a report that provides an in-depth examination of the lessons learned from past or ongoing measures.

"I feel [the report] is very important; it's a clarion call to the international community, to our national government, to our communities, to see children not just as people who can be targeted but as people that have their own rights."