New York City, NY – February 5, 2014
On the 5th February ChildFund Alliance helped to organise a side-event on A World without Violence against Children at the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. The event was co-hosted by the Governments of Canada and Paraguay at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
ChildFund Alliance campaigns for every child to have the right to live and thrive in a safe and caring family environment, free from all forms of violence. Nevertheless, for millions of children, abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence takes place on a daily basis –at home, at school, in care institutions, at work and in the community. In September 2013 Irish Tánaiste, Mr Eamon Gilmore TD co-chaired a major event on the Millennium Development Goals which looked to map out the future of the €130 billion worldwide development aid effort beyond 2015. In his address to the UN General Assembly he expressed pride on behalf of Ireland in co-facilitating that Special Event and in achieving an outcome document which would guide negotiations over the next two years on completing the MDGs and crafting the post-2015 development agenda. Yesterday’s event built on from this and offered an important opportunity to bring the prevention and response violence against children to the debate around the next generation of development goals, and ensure focus, investment, commitment and results for children in every country – because nowhere in the world are they free from abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence.
Opening the meeting, Mr. Jim Emerson, Secretary General of ChildFund Alliance, welcomed and thanked the Government co-hosts, the participating children and the speakers. He highlighted the pervasive presence of violence against children, and the importance of the post – 2015 development agenda addressing this issue. “But it’s not just our organizations saying this. Most importantly, this is a call from children all over the world. Children are asking for an end to physical and humiliating punishment; sexual violence and abuse; harmful child work and child marriage; trafficking and other harmful practices.”
The event was co-chaired by H. E. Mr. Guillermo Rishchynski, Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations, who highlighted his Government’s commitment and leadership on the issue of violence against children; and Mr. José Antonio Dos Santos, Permanent Representative of Paraguay to the United Nations, who noted that issues including violence and exploitation are “not a problem of developing countries, it is a worldwide concern.”
The need to take measures for the protection of children from violence, including more awareness – raising about this issue, and more periodical control on the part of state agencies in the areas where violence occurs, was discussed. An interactive panel, moderated by Al Jazeera journalist Ms. Femi Oke, then addressed the audience of over 80 people, which included representatives from Member States, UN entities and civil society.
Ms. Susan Bissell, Chief of the Child Protection Section at UNICEF Headquarters, highlighted the importance of communicating that violence against children is preventable and that there are solutions to the problem, with several examples of successful programs throughout the world. Ms. Marta Santos Pais, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Violence against Children, remarked that while figures are already overwhelming, they are just the tip of the iceberg –as most children use the word ‘fear’ to define their lives. Mr. Werner Obermeyer, Representative in New York and to the United Nations of the World Health Organization (WHO) noted that, in relation to the post-2015 development agenda, the key is to demonstrate that this is a developmental imperative in addition to a moral imperative. “This is an investment that will pay back repeatedly,” he stated.
Finally, Mr. Emerson highlighted the importance of this issue for development, and remarked that violence against children has a series of economic implications that transcend the direct costs of responding to it. Evidence shows that it is much more cost effective to prevent that to respond to violence. The panelists then answered questions from the audience in New York and online, who engaged in the event via Twitter.
ChildFund Alliance co-organised the event with five other organisations committed to children’s rights: Plan International, Save the Children International, SOS Children’s Villages International, UNICEF and World Vision International.