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Nearly Invisible: Prosecuting Atrocity Crimes Committed Against or By Children

November 30, 2023 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

Nearly Invisible Prosecuting Atrocity Crimes Committed Against or By Children with Cécile Aptel, Larry D. Johson, Jaqueline Bhabha.

Date and Time: Thursday, November 30, 2023 at 5:00pm to 6:30pm ET
Location: In-person at the Allison Dining Room, Harvard Kennedy School (Taubman Building (5th Floor), 79 John F. Kennedy St, Cambridge, MA 02138)

Focusing on the themes covered in FXB Visiting Scientist Cécile Aptel’s new book, Atrocity Crimes, Children and International Criminal Courts, this talk will center on the challenges international criminal courts face when handling atrocity crimes involving children. International criminal courts have paid inconsistent and limited attention to children and have instead focused on the experiences of adults and atrocity crimes. There are many structural, legal, financial, and cultural reasons for this but the result has been that children affected by atrocity crimes have been largely rendered invisible.

Aptel wonders whether and how different international and hybrid criminal jurisdictions have considered international crimes committed against or by children, and how international criminal justice can help contribute to the recognition of the specific impact that international crimes have on children, whether as victims or as participants, and strengthen their protection.

Aptel will be in conversation with Larry D. Johnson, Permanent Observer for the International Anti-Corruption Academy, and Jacqueline Bhabha, Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, about how we might expand international attention to children in war zones beyond a narrow focus on child soldiers.

This event is part of a series of events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which will be celebrated on December 10, 2023.


Cecile Aptel

Cécile Aptel, MA, MLitt, PhD | FXB Visiting Scientist

Cécile Aptel is Deputy Director of UNIDIR. She has over 20 years’ experience in international affairs, working for several UN entities, universities and NGOs on legal, policy, international security and humanitarian issues. She has built and managed diverse international teams in multicultural environments, ensuring accountability and a high level of performance. Prior to joining UNIDIR, she served as a Chief in the UN Human Rights Office, and before that as Director and Acting Under-Secretary General at the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. She has helped set-up various new entities, notably the UN Mechanism on Syria (IIIM), and led several international investigations, including in Lebanon (IIIC), the UN Office of Internal Oversight, and the UN Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. She has been a consultant for UNICEF, the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes, and the International Center for Transitional Justice. She was awarded the 2010 Jennings Randolph Senior Fellowship by the United States Institute of Peace. 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 is also a professor of international law and recognised for her expertise in international humanitarian law, criminal law, transitional justice, and human rights, notably child rights. She has authored over 30 publications and taught at the Fletcher School, Pretoria, and Harvard. She is fluent in French and English.
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Larry D. Johnson

Larry D. Johnson, JD, MPA | Permanent Observer for the International Anti-Corruption Academy

Larry D. Johnson is the Permanent Observer for the International Anti-Corruption Academy. Mr. Johnson joined the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs at the entry level in 1971, retired from the Organization in 2008 as Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs. Between 2003 and 2005, he was Chef de Cabinet in the Office of the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague and served as Legal Adviser to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna from 1997 to 2001. Following his retirement, Mr. Johnson was an adjunct professor of law at the Columbia Law School in the United States from 2009 to 2020, where he also administered the United Nations Externship programme and conducted a seminar on United Nations law and practice. Since 2011, he has taught a course on United Nations law and practice as a Professorial Lecturer at the Vienna Diplomatic Academy in Austria. In addition, Mr. Johnson has served as a consultant to the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), instructing new diplomats on General Assembly procedures and the drafting and negotiation of resolutions. Mr. Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in 1967 from the University of Nebraska in the United States. He also received a Juris Doctor (Doctor of Law) degree and a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University in 1970 and 1971, respectively.
Jacqueline Bhabha

Jacqueline Bhabha, JD, MSc | FXB Director of Research

Jacqueline Bhabha JD, MSc is a Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is also the Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Lecturer in Law at Harvard Law School, and  Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. She is the Director of Research at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard’s only university wide Human Rights research center. From 1997 to 2001 Bhabha founded and directed the Human Rights Program at the University of Chicago. Prior to 1997, she was a practicing human rights lawyer in London and at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. She has published extensively on issues of transnational child migration, refugee protection, children’s rights and citizenship. She is the author of Child Migration & Human Rights in a Global Age (Princeton University Press, 2014), the editor of Children Without A State (MIT Press, 2011), and of Human Rights and Adolescence(University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014). Her current research focuses on adolescents at risk of violence, social exclusion or discrimination. She is actively engaged in several research projects in India, examining the factors that drive access of low caste girls from illiterate families to higher education, and that transform gender norms among children and adolescents. She also works on similar issues within the Roma community in Europe. Bhabha serves on the board of the Scholars at Risk Network, the World Peace Foundation and the Journal of Refugee Studies
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November 30, 2023
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm


Allison Dining Room, Harvard Kennedy School,Taubman Building 5th Floor, 79 John F. Kennedy St, Cambridge, MA 02138