Regardless of Saudi Arabia’s domestic legal system and legislation, or lack thereof, the
country is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. 102 Saudi Arabia
is therefore legally bound by the Convention on the Rights of Child and is subject to legal
consequences of violations thereof. Article 37(a) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights
of the Child states that:
State Parties shall ensure that no child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life
imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offenses committed
by persons below eighteen years of age. 103
Juveniles who are involved in violent extremist organizations are immersed in a curriculum
that desensitizes violence, 104 indoctrinating them to think in black-and-white terms. 105 The
inclusion of violent extremist offenders who were arrested for their crimes as juveniles in Saudi
Arabia’s mass execution on January 2, 2016 was in direct violation of the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of the Child; and yet, the country is not being held accountable for its
actions. For example, even the United States turned a blind eye when, on February 13, 2017, Saudi
Arabian Prince Muhammed bin Nayef was awarded the George Tenet medal by the Central
Intelligence Agency for his contributions to fighting terrorism, despite Saudi Arabia’s disturbingly
broad interpretation of combating terrorism. 106 The United Nations and Saudi Arabia’s allies are
overlooking, rather than addressing, the country’s gross disregard for the rights of children.
V. AVENUES OF INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
Saudi Arabia, as a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child,
must be held accountable for its juvenile executions. The treaty was created to explicitly recognize
that children are entitled to special care and assistance. 107 It further protects the idea that children
have a certain physical and mental immaturity, which requires appropriate legal protection. 108 The
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is legally binding upon its signatories, and
yet the world continues to overlook Saudi Arabia’s violation of this international law.
102 Convention on the Rights of the Child, United Nations Treaty Collection,
https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=IND&mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=48&lang=en (status as at Feb.
103 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child art. 37, Nov. 20, 1989, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3 [hereinafter
UNCRC]. (emphasis added).
104Jay Akbar, ISIS is ‘copying the Nazis’ recruitment tactics and brainwashing young boys from BIRTH into becoming
their next generation of killers’, DAILY MAIL (Mar. 6, 2016), http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3478245/ISIS-
105 Kelly Cobiella, Denmark De-Radicalization Program Aims to Reintegrate, Not Condemn, NBC NEWS (May 24,
2015, 3:21 AM), http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/denmark-de-radicalization-n355346.
106 Bethan McKernan, CIA awards Saudi crown prince with medal for counter-terrorism work, INDEP. (Feb. 13, 2017,
107 UNCRC, supra note 103, at Preamble.