Special Representative on Violence against Children launches joint advocacy brief with leaders of five UN agencies calling for enhanced protection of children on the move in times of crisis: “Protecting children from violence is everybody’s business!”

New York, 24 May 2023 - With more than 42 million children displaced worldwide and increasing exposure to multiple forms of violence, the Office of the Special Representative on Violence against Children joined UN agencies to co-launch an advocacy brief on Protecting the Rights of Children on the Move in Times of Crisis that highlights the urgency of protecting the rights of children on the move due to the increasing multifaceted crises they face.

The joint advocacy brief reflects on lessons arising from past and ongoing crises worldwide, and outlines principles to guide strengthened protection for all children.

In this unprecedented joint call, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children (OSRSG-VAC), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in close partnership with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, stress that protection of all children independently of their status is more necessary than ever.   

Investing in strong rights-based national protection systems that include displaced children, rather than excluding them or creating separate services for them, has proven to be more sustainable and effective in the long-term. As millions of children are displaced, often for many years, by crises like armed conflicts, political instability, climate change coupled with the effects of health and economic crises, the best interests of the child must be the primary consideration.

Children’s full protection requires translating good intentions into concrete and sustained actions. This means ensuring non-discriminatory access to national services - including civil documentation such as birth registration, social welfare, justice, health, education, and social protection - for all children, without distinction or exclusion based on their migration status, and should go beyond emergency situations.

In a powerful statement, Spanish actress, Ms. Penelope Cruz joined the call emphasizing that we all have a role to play in protecting children from violence: “Children must be protected everywhere and in all circumstances. Keeping all children safe from harm and promoting their wellbeing with particular attention to those is crisis situations is – and must be – everybody’s business. Let's be united in creating a world free from violence against children!”


Download the advocacy brief


Videos: The problem Solutions Conclusion

Interview with Cadena Ser (Spanish)

CBS news feature: "More children than ever displaced and at risk of violence and exploitation, U.N. warns."