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Strengthening juvenile justice systems to reduce vulnerabilities

Japan and UNICRI sign an agreement

Rome -

On 7 March 2019, Ms. Hitomi Sato, Minister Councillor of the Embassy of Japan in Rome, and Ms. Bettina Tucci Bartsiotas, Director of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), signed an agreement for the implementation of a new initiative to strengthen the juvenile justice systems of two beneficiary Member States. The initiative aims at facilitating the adoption of diversion and alternative measures to reduce juveniles’ recruitment in criminal organizations.

To this purpose, UNICRI will support partner countries in integrating the prevention dimension in their legal and judiciary systems.

Implementing children’s rights is the first step towards reducing vulnerabilities and exploitation from terrorist and criminal groups. In this regard, the importance of diversion and alternative measures to detention for children in conflict with the law is set out in numerous international human rights law instruments. Through the development of tailor-made juvenile justice programmes based on UNICRI’s expertise, the phenomenon of recruitment and radicalization of juveniles and other potential vulnerable groups can be curbed.

The initiative will be conducted in close consultation with partner countries and will involve action-oriented research focusing on legal tools, operational practices and capacity building. Round-table meetings with relevant stakeholders in the partner countries will take place to ensure engagement and ownership. The project will also involve regional and international organizations to ensure coordinated actions and avoid duplication of efforts in the improvement of juvenile justice standards.

The final outcome of this new initiative is the designing of comprehensive action plans to address needs and gaps in the use of diversion or alternative measures within the juvenile justice systems aligned with international juvenile justice standards. The action plan will list a wide range of activities analysing the resources needed and their potential impact. Each of the activities identified will be assigned to the lead national entity for implementation.

The Director of UNICRI, Bettina Tucci Bartsiotas, said: “We are grateful to the Government of Japan for its support. UNICRI shares the belief that human progress and overall development lies in ensuring the welfare of juveniles and the protection of their rights. Addressing the issues of juveniles in conflict with the law is a precondition to reducing vulnerable categories’ exposure to crime and violent extremism and achieving social cohesion and development.”

This new initiative is grounded in the UN 2030 Agenda, and in particular aims at contributing to the achievement of Goal 4 on quality education; Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong Institutions; and Goal 17 on partnerships.


Since its establishment in 1968, UNICRI has been promoting the protection of the rights of the child and the respect of the rule of law among, and in favor of, youth. In this area, the Institute has designed and implemented research, training programmes and technical cooperation projects throughout the world. UNICRI adopts a comprehensive approach looking at the full spectrum of the relationships between youngsters and the law. Projects encompass activities aiming at crime prevention, the protection and rehabilitation of child victims, and the reform and enhancement of juvenile justice and specialized law enforcement activities.