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The Policy Paper on Children: Renewing a Focus on Crimes Against Children

The International Criminal Court (ICC or the Court) Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) recently announced that it is renewing and updating its Policy on Children. The original Policy, often referred to as a Policy Paper, was first published in 2016 to strengthen the Court’s work to uphold justice for crimes against or affecting children. Now, the Prosecutor aims to develop new and innovative approaches to make children more visible in all of its work. This presents a pivotal opportunity to strengthen and promote recognition and accountability for crimes affecting all children.

The Court considers “children” to be any person who has not yet reached 18 years of age. With your input, the Policy Paper will provide the clarity necessary for ICC stakeholders to better understand the full diversity of children in your community and how their intersectional identities and experiences inform how they are impacted by conflict and atrocities. 

This is an important opportunity to contribute to a high-level document that will be used by Court investigators, legal officials, and governments – but the policy can also be an impactful tool for civil society working to support children at all levels of community-building, government, and global engagement.

Read our resource guide to learn more about the Policy Paper and how you can get involved.

English | Español | Français | Arabic

The resource guide is also available in Easy Read translation in English and Spanish. Easy Read translation makes information more accessible to readers of all backgrounds. Note that some official terms and language may be different in order to convey various concepts.

Sign the open letter:

MADRE is serving as a clearing house for comments and has compiled feedback from grassroots feminist organizations from around the world. A summary of this compilation is available in a sign-on letter here. The deadline to sign the open letter is Friday, May 26, 2023

Para la versión en español, haga clic aquí.  |  Pour le français, cliquez ici.  |  للحصول على النسخة العربية، انقر هنا

Write your own submission:

You can share your perspectives directly with the Office of the Prosecutor by writing a submission. Submissions can be any length and about any topic relating to how conflict impacts children in your community. A submission  can focus on legal details, or it could simply list what you want the ICC to know about children in your community. Comments must be sent by Wednesday, May 31, 2023 to: 

If you are unsure of what should go in your submission, here are some questions to think about that can guide you:

  • How does conflict impact children in your community?
  • What roles does gender play in how children in your community are affected by conflict?
  • How are children with intersectional identities impacted differently by conflict?
  • What is missing from the 2016 Policy Paper that should be included in the 2023 update?

Since the creation of the ICC in the 1990s, MADRE has worked to ensure that civil society organizers and activists have been heard loud and clear at the Court. Our work has focused on strengthening the ICC’s understanding of gender-based violence, and in 2022 we facilitated grassroots and expert input during the development of the groundbreaking new policy paper on gender persecution.

In 2023, MADRE and our partners are coming together once again to make sure that civil society and children from communities affected by conflict and atrocities have the tools to share their perspectives and expertise directly with the ICC. The Court belongs to all of us and should reflect all of us in our diversity – and this updated policy on children is no exception.

April 14, 2023