Decade of action to end violence against children

The United Nations Decade of Action asks communities around the world to work together to accelerate progress towards implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Achieving the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 will help reduce the risk of violence in children’s lives and provide effective responses for child victims. But we must also recognize that if we do not adequately address the SDG targets related to violence against children, progress across the whole 2030 Agenda will be hindered. 

During its formulation, children themselves called for the 2030 Agenda to explicitly incorporate freedom from violence. They highlighted that violence cuts across many development goals but in addition it needed to be envisaged as a standalone priority.

In including SDG target 16.2 (“end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children”), the 2030 Agenda for the first time placed the dignity of children and their right to live free from violence and from fear as a priority on the international development agenda. The 2030 Agenda and the SDGs are a unique opportunity for the realization of the right of every child to live free from fear and violence as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The launch of the Decade of Action in 2020 takes place as the United Nations celebrates its 75th Anniversary under the theme of renewing multilateralism, but also as the world faces grave new challenges, including climate change, growing inequality and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The international community must ensure that children are at the front and center of the Decade of Action and are mobilized as active participants in accelerating action.  

Achieving the SDGs, especially those related to education and health, gender equality and violence against women, child labour, poverty eradication, access to justice and accountable and inclusive institutions will help reduce the risk of violence in children’s lives and provide effective responses for child victims. 

The adoption of SDG target 16.2 by the United Nations was an historic breakthrough: the international community must now act to transform this momentum into an unstoppable movement to end all forms of violence against children.

Here you will find more information about violence against children in the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, including key issues, reports and links to relevant sites.

Accelerating implementation of SDG Target 16.2 and other related SDGs

The SRSG´s office prepared a briefing noteto support United Nations Member States as they prepare their Voluntary National Review (VNR), to highlight the close linkages between the SDGs and ending violence against children. It encourages Member States to use their VNR to report on promising practices and initiatives showing that violence against children is preventable when there is political will and commitment. 

An important purpose of the VNR process is to engage the whole of society in reviewing progress towards reaching the SDG targets. Children should be active participants and their voices must be reflected both in the process and outcome of the VNR. Children’s protection, education, health and other aspects of their wellbeing should be an integral part of every VNR report, paying close attention to ensuring no child is left behind, especially the most vulnerable.

Arabic version

VNR LAB: HLPF 2020  => Developing a child sensitive and child inclusive SDG Voluntary National Review

Governments across all regions are using the SDG targets related to children to spur accelerated action towards ending poverty, ensuring healthy lives, increasing access to quality education, achieving gender equality, promoting child participation, and eliminating all forms of violence. 

In July 2020, the Office of the Special Representative and UNICEF co-organized a VNR Lab at the High-level Political Forum, to encourage Governments to report on the SDG targets related to children in their VNRs and share examples of actions taken.

The Lab highlighted how inclusive and participatory VNR processes can help ensure that children’s wellbeing and protection is placed at the centre of national development planning and accelerate progress towards reaching the SDGs.

The Lab also drew attention to the need to maintain national budgets for the health, education and protection of children from violence, even in the face of the global economic crisis created by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Concept note

Summary of the VNR Lab

Keeping the promise: Ending Violence against Children by 2030 

"Four years after the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and 30 years after the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, despite some progress, violence against children remains hidden and undermines the achievement of the SDGs and the fully implementation of the 2030 Agenda. We need to do more, to do it better and to do it faster to ensure that no child is left behind." SRSG Najat Maalla M'jid said as she launched  Keeping the promise: ending violence against children by 2030 during the High-level Political Forum in 2019.

The report highlights that over 1 billion children around the world - half of the world’s children - endure some form of violence; three in every four children under the age of 5 experience aggressive discipline at the hands of caregivers; and almost one-third of students have been bullied by their peers at least once in the past month.
The report gathers expert analysis from stakeholders who are committed to keeping the promise enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history: for every child to have a life free from violence.

SRSG celebrates the historic global commitment to end violence against children

On Friday 25 September 2015, a global sustainable development agenda was unanimously adopted by the Member States of the United Nations.The 2030 Agenda includes for the first time a specific target (16.2) to end all forms of violence against children, and ending the abuse, neglect and exploitation of children is mainstreamed across several other violence-related targets.

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Key reports

The road to dignity by 2030: ending poverty, transforming all lives and protecting the planet. Synthesis report of the Secretary-General on the post-2015 sustainable development agenda (A/69/700)   

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019     

Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals Report of the Secretary-General - 2019 Special Edition

Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals Report of the Secretary-General - 2019 Session

Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals Report of the Secretary-General - 2018 Session

Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals Report of the Secretary-General - 2017 Session

Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals Report of the Secretary-General - 2016 Session

Report of the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators. The three global indicators for target 16.2 are below and can be found on page 57 of the report:

- 16.2.1 Proportion of children aged 1-17 years who experienced any physical punishment and/or psychological aggression by caregivers in the past month Donwload

-16.2.2 Number of victims of human trafficking per 100,000 population, by sex, age and form of exploitation

-16.2.3 Proportion of young women and men aged 18-29 years who experienced sexual violence by age 18

SRSG report Why Children's Protection from Violence should be at the Heart of the Post-2015 Development Agenda - A Review of Consultations with Children on the Post-2015 Development Agenda Download

SRSG Viewpoints

The 2030 Agenda-implementation, follow up and review

Global Agenda 2030 - Building a world that is safer for children

Why ending violence against children is essential to sustainable development

Why it is crucial to place the protection of children from violence at the centre of the global sustainable development agenda

Ending all forms of violence against children by 2030 - Council of Europe Contribution to the 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals

SDGs the world we want child-friendly publication