Interview: Jaap Doek

Jaap E. Doek, 66, is General Rapporteur of the III World Congress against Sexual Exploitation, which takes place in Brazil in November.

Among many positions of distinction, he is also emeritus professor of Law (Family and Juvenile Law) at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, a deputy justice in the Court of Appeal of Amsterdam and a former chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

This interview was conducted for CRIN by the focal point for the World Congress III against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents.

Which issue in child rights do you feel most merits more attention?

The establishment at the national level of an effective structure/system of child protection

What has been the best achievement in your career?

Wrong question. There are many good activities meaning challenging with satisfying results that is not in terms of personal achievement, less alone “the best”.

If you could give child rights advocates/NGOs one piece of advice, what would it be?

Don’t take no for answer and be an opportunist. That is use every opportunity you see to promote implementation of CRC and if necessary create such opportunities.

What is the best thing about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child? And the worst? Has it really made a difference?

That it has generated a high level of interest in rights of children in many countries and a very impressive constituency of NGOs, UN agencies and individuals. It has made and will continue to make a difference for many children but still a far cry away to a World fit for children. The worst: that it still has not been ratified by all countries.

Which organisation or child rights advocate’s work do you most admire and why?

Wrong question. There are many NGOs and advocates I admire.

If you were not working in child rights, what would you be doing?

Trying to get involved in children’s rights

What’s the best thing about your job? And the worst?

That I meet so many individuals very much committed to children’s rights in so many different countries because they make you feel confident that with CRC we are and will continue to make progress, perhaps with sometimes high obstacles and slow but nevertheless progress.

If you were not answering these questions, where would you be?

In the same place

What would be your perfect job in child rights?

Wrong question. There are no perfect jobs in child rights. It’s hard work job requiring persistence, patience and determination.

Sum up children’s rights in one word.

Impossible

What have been the major progresses since the 2nd World Congress took place in Yokohama?

That 120 countries have ratified the Optional Protocol and are now more systematically adressing national legislation, social and other measures on sale/trafficking of children, child prostitution and pornography.

What are the expectations for the III world Congress? The challenges?

High because the organisers are aiming at a Congress with maximum participation of Governments, NGOs, children/adolescents and other interested individuals and with an outcome which can really make a difference based on many pre-congress consultation, studies and discussions during the Congress, that is set an inspiring and well targeted agenda for specific actions in the next 5 years. The challenge: to get it done in a well prepared manner because there are only three months left.

What will be your role as a rapporteur?

Support the preparatory activities in particular the production of background papers in the five Congress themes via the coordination of the review of the papers by the Expert Reference Group. To work on the preparation of the outcome document with a small drafting group. To participate to as many regional and thematic consultations in order to get first hand information about what worries people on the ground and what they want to happen in terms of concrete action for prevention and adequate intervention in cases of (commercial) sexual abuse and exploitation.

How can NGOs help with the process or get involved?

Present in particular at regional, thematic or national consultations your experiences and views on actions necessary. When necessary inform your Government, push them to active participation in the III World Congress, raise awareness and go to Rio. Most importantly, use the outcome document as a tool for generating awareness and targeted action in your country.