Investing in child protection and violence prevention should be seen as a “vaccine” against the pandemic of violence against children - SRSG Maalla M'jid addresses Human Rights Council

Geneva, 15 March 2022 - SRSG Maalla M'jid presented her annual report to the 49th Session of the Human Rights Council on Tuesday, 15 March 2022.

In her presentation, SRSG Maalla M'jid called for stronger investment in child protection and violence prevention the only "vaccine to put an end to the pandemic of violence against children" which can then generate a large, long-term prevention dividend.

"Many proven interventions have a low cost, and even modest increases in spending on these services can make a substantial difference. Investing in child protection calls for strong political will, translated into sufficient financial resources, well-staffed services and social workforce, information and monitoring systems, as well as accountability mechanisms." said SRSG Maalla M'jid.

Dr. Maalla M'jid highlighted the urgency of investing in prevention and elimination of violence that has been fueled by "waves of devastating crises" impacting a large number of children experiencing violence online and offline.

SRSG Maalla M'jid presents report to Human Rights Council

"Rising poverty, lack of access to education, social disparities and increasing displacement of children are exacerbating child labour, sexual violence, child marriage, trafficking, smuggling, and enrolment in criminal gangs and armed groups. These crises have severely tested the capacity of States, communities and families to ensure children’s education, protection, wellbeing and social welfare." added the Special Representative.

Dr, Maalla M'jid also recalled the serious human and economic costs of violence, with huge impact on children’s mental health, leading to anxiety, behavioral disorders, depression and suicide attempts. Child victims of violence may not reach their full education and health potential, which will limit their future income and productivity and impact human capital development. 

"We must strengthen and scale up cross-sectoral child- and gender -sensitive protection and violence prevention systems. This integrated approach echoes the interdependence of children’s rights and of the Sustainable Development Goals.
With only 8 years remaining to keep the promise of the 2030 Agenda to end violence against children, we need a paradigm shift. We must move away from siloed and unsustainable approaches. Our vision and action must be broad, ensuring complementarity between humanitarian action, security and people-centred development " added Dr. Maalla M'jid.

The importance of including children as part of the solution was also highlighted during the presentation as a key element of a wide mobilization and strong partnerships movement that involves key stakeholders including children who are already active worldwide. "They need to be more and more involved and seen as part of the solution.  For the first time, my mandate disseminated a child-friendly version of my annual report in all official UN languages as well as a child participation map showcasing child-led initiatives worldwide, that I discussed with over 400 children aged 8 to 18, from all regions and diverse backgrounds, including the most vulnerable. I intend to make engagement with children in advance of the preparation of my reports to the Council and to the General Assembly a standing feature of my mandate’s working methods"

In her report, SRSG Maalla M'jid reviews key developments and initiatives she has promoted to accelerate progress in the protection of children from violence to advocate and mobilize action including through more than 250 online and in-person meetings with Member States -including 38 States presenting Voluntary National Reviews in 2021- as well as with intergovernmental regional organizations, civil society.