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Webinar: Atrocity Crimes, Children and International Criminal Courts: Killing Childhood

We are pleased to invite you to a webinar around Professor Cécile Aptel's latest book "Atrocity Crimes, Children and International Criminal Courts: Killing Childhood" (Routledge, 2023).

Please join us to engage in an enriching discussion led by Prof. Aptel herself!

The event is organised by the Centre for Children's Rights Studies of the University of Geneva as part of its seminar series.

Date: September 21st, 2023 (Thursday)

Time: 15:00-16:30 (Geneva time) 

RSVP: please RSVP to nataliya.tchermalykh(at)


“Atrocity Crimes, Children and International Criminal Courts: Killing Childhood” reveals how international criminal courts have systematically paid limited and inconsistent attention to the suffering of children when atrocity crimes are committed.  Whilst this trend may be changing, following the investigation by the International Criminal Court of President Putin and one of his senior advisors for war crimes for the illegal transfer of children from Ukraine to Russia, as Prof. Aptel’s book concludes, there is still a long way in recognizing that. The book takes the reader through a detailed review of the practices and jurisprudence of different international and hybrid criminal jurisdictions, starting with the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals established in the 1940’s, in the consideration, if any, of crimes committed against or by children. It elucidates the many legal, structural and other obstacles that have contributed to this imbalance, with the experience of adults being the main focus of these courts, rendering children almost invisible. The exception to this trend, as analyzed in the book, is cases concerning child-soldiers. But this has come at the cost of obscuring the myriad of other ways children suffer from atrocity crimes. Through her findings, Prof. Aptel demonstrates how international criminal justice can help contribute to the recognition of the specific impact that international crimes have on children, as victims or as participants, and accordingly strengthen their protection. She calls for international investigative and prosecutorial strategies to be less adult-centric and for a broadening of the scope of crimes against children beyond the focus on child-soldiers.

Prof. Cécile Aptel is an international expert in international criminal law, international justice, transitional justice and children's rights. She contributed to establishing the United Nations (UN) international tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, where she worked for 10 years in different legal and policy roles and drafted several of the first key judgments, including the first on genocide. She also directly participated in the establishment of the State Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s War Crimes Chamber (2005), the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (2006), and directed the establishment of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism on Syria (2017). She has led and participated in various international efforts to foster criminal accountability for international crimes, gross human rights violations and terrorism, notably at the UN International Independent Investigation Commission in Lebanon, where she directed the legal services, and at the UN Office of Internal Oversight. Dr. Aptel holds a Ph.D. in law from the University of Geneva and master’s degrees from the College of Europe and Trinity College Dublin. She has authored over 30 publications and taught at the Fletcher School, Pretoria, and Harvard. She currently serves as the Deputy Director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).

We look forward to your participation in this enriching and timely event with one of the greatest experts in the field.

12 septembre 2023
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