Children and youth suffer grave violations of their fundamental rights as a result of war, including but not limited to their recruitment and use by armed forces and groups; killing and maiming; rape and other sexual violence; abductions; and attacks against schools and hospitals. War also deprives children and youth of their basic rights to survival and development. As reported in the Machel Study ten-year strategic review, Children and Conflict in a Changing World, the impact on children is “more brutal than ever,” and the indirect consequences of war – “the severing of basic services, and increased poverty, malnutrition and disease” – continue to exact a devastating toll. The task of restoring the lives of war-affected children and youth must therefore be central to any transitional justice processes.
The Justice and Reconciliation Project (JRP) through its Community Mobilisation department has launched a Transitional Justice IQ Gauge, an educational programme designed to connect youth from different parts of northern Uganda to build a critical mass around transitional justice in an effort to harness the energy, imagination and initiative of northern Uganda’s youth in promoting a culture of peace. Its aim is to increase awareness among the young people about the conflicts in Uganda with special focus on northern Uganda and ongoing Transitional Justice debates within the country. It also aims to inspire the stakeholders in TJ policy development and implementation to learn from the young minds and to think about how they can make a difference in the ongoing developments. JRP hopes that this will start the process of enlisting voices of the youth, something that is currently missing in the ongoing TJ debates. In the long run, this process will form the basis for building advocacy capacity among the young people as they start forming alliances with each other on “what the young people are saying” on critical issues around TJ.
This year’s competition was themed, “Every Body Counts: Voices of Young People in Transitional Justice” and began in May will end in September 2012 with the announcement of the regional winners. This year, the quiz will target twenty schools within Acholi Sub Region and then will expand to other schools in Lango, Teso and West Nile in the coming years. The Community Mobilisation team is currently conducting dialogues in all the participating schools and engaging with the students on key thematic issues such as reparations among others. Stay tuned for more updates and a JRP publication focusing on youth and transitional justice.