Leadership and accountability are essential to reach the ambitious vision of the 2030 Agenda to build a world free from fear and violence for every child
New York, 27 September 2017 - Stepping up progress towards the 2030 SDG targets on violence against children must be at the heart of the policy agenda of every nation is a central message in the 2017 Annual Report of SRSG Santos Pais to the General Assembly. “Leadership and accountability are essential to realize the ambitious vision of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda for a world free from fear and violence, a world that invests in children and where no child is left behind. The world confronts the greatest wave of child migrants and refugees since the Second World War, with its attendant risks of neglect, harassment, ill treatment and exploitation. Violence infuses the daily life of these children, and fear and insecurity are widespread. As the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration begin to take shape, safeguarding the rights of children on the move is ever more pressing. We must transform the continuum of violence that blights the lives of millions of children into a continuum of protection!” the SRSG stresses in her report.
The report outlines the scale of different forms of violence against children and the imperative to act with a deep sense of urgency to bring them to an end. Children around the world continue to be exposed to physical, psychological and sexual violence, often in a pervasive, corrosive, hidden and concealed manner. They are intentionally targeted in politically driven processes, manipulated in organized crime, forced to flee violence in their communities, sold and exploited for economic gain, groomed online, disciplined through violent means, sexually assaulted in the privacy of their homes, neglected in institutions, abused in detention centres, bullied in schools and in the cyberspace, and stigmatized and ill-treated as a result of superstition or harmful practices.
The SRSG’s report highlights significant initiatives to prevent and move towards the elimination of violence against children, as called for the 2030 Agenda. At the national level, comprehensive national strategies to prevent and address violence, and legislative reforms to ban all forms of violence against children and ensure the protection, recovery and reintegration of child victims have been adopted, while data systems are being incrementally consolidated.
Regional developments have continued to mobilise action and support national enforcement efforts, and the past year saw strengthened implementation of regional plans by ASEAN and the Council of Europe in support of the 2030 Agenda, and new initiatives in Africa, South America, South Asia and the Arab region to advance progress toward its goals.
The SRSG calls upon UN Member States to use the opportunity provided by voluntary national reviews and the High-level Pol Regional developments have continued to mobilise action. The past year saw strengthened implementation of regional plans by ASEAN and the Council of Europe in support of the 2030 Agenda, and new initiatives in Africa, South America, South Asia and the Arab region to advance progress toward the SDG targets.
The SRSG calls upon UN Member States to use the opportunity provided by voluntary national reviews at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to promote and report on progress for children and to share examples of good practice in ending violence against children. In her report, SRSG Santos Pais highlights that the 2017 voluntary national reviews presented some valuable examples of how strengthened social protection to address poverty mitigates the increased risk of violence children may face. These important lessons were the focus of a side event the SRSG co-hosted at the HLPF with UNICEF and the Governments of Indonesia, Sweden and Chile. In this connection, it is important to note that the 2017 HLPF Ministerial Declaration gave high visibility to the protection of children’s rights, including their right to freedom from violence.
Recognizing how critical wide alliances and strategic partnerships are in preventing and responding to violence against children, the SRSG’s report gives special attention to the important role that faith based organizations and communities can play. In May 2017, in her keynote address to the Fifth Forum of the Global Network of Religions for Children, SRSG Santos Pais called on the more than 500 leaders and members of the world’s faith and spiritual traditions from more than 70 countries participating to use their voice, authority and influence in society to help ensure accelerated progress towards meeting the SDG violence-related targets – especially SDG target 16.2 to eliminate all forms of violence against children.
The SRSG’s report also highlights two major studies produced by her office in 2017: Protecting Children Affected by Armed Violence in the Community, and Ending the Torment: Tackling Bullying from the Schoolyard to Cyberspace. The two reports provide an overview of the global situation on these widespread forms of violence against children which have devastating and long-lasting impact on young lives, and make concrete recommendations for action, using evidence-based interventions.
Building on these and other initiatives, the SRSG’s priority continues to be supporting efforts at all levels to accelerate progress towards reaching the SDG targets. In 2019, as the world commemorates the thirtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the General Assembly will host its first review of Goal 16, including target 16.2. This presents a unique opportunity to further build and mobilize global action to achieve a real difference in violence prevention and response efforts and move steadily towards the elimination of all forms of violence against children.