SRSG annual report calls for faster progress in securing children’s protection and creating a world free from fear and from violence

New York, 11 September 2015 - The 2015 annual report of the SRSG-VAC to the UN General Assembly highlights the continuing toll that violence takes on the lives of children around the world and calls for urgent and enhanced efforts to prevent and eliminate violence against children. According to UN data, almost a billion children between the ages of 2 and 14 are subject to physical punishment by their caregivers; 84 million girls are victims of emotional, physical or sexual violence at the hands of their husbands or partners; and 8 per cent of global homicides affect children under the age of 15. With the adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda, the international community can make a lasting difference in children’s protection and ensure a world free from fear and from violence for each and every child.

The report welcomes progress in consolidating international standards and national laws for ending violence against children, including the increasing number of countries with comprehensive legal bans. National multi-sectoral plans of action have been adopted in more than 90 countries and in many others are in process. The body of data and research on the scale of violence against children is also growing, including from national household surveys to measure prevalence, helping to raise awareness of the magnitude of this phenomenon and providing solid evidence for prevention and mitigation strategies.

Recent regional-level developments have been crucial to enhance national implementation efforts. These include initiatives to protect children from sexual violence by the Council of Europe, the Pan-American Child and Adolescent Congress of the Organization of American States, and the Central American Integrated System (SICA); and initiatives to prevent and combat child marriage by the African Union South and the Asian Initiative to End Violence against Children (SAIEVAC). In the Pacific, a high-level regional conference on ending violence against children was held for the first time to promote cross fertilization of experiences and cross border cooperation. Moreover, regional intergovernmental processes have informed the development of significant regional plans to prevent and eliminate violence against children, including within the Council of Europe, ASEAN, and the Caribbean Community Task Force.

This year’s annual report draws special attention to the serious impact on children of armed violence in the community, including the special risks presented by gang violence and organized crime. Recognizing the need to address the root causes of this complex phenomenon and outlining the drivers of armed violence, the report identifies key strategies to prevent and combat armed violence and secure children’s protection. These include enhancing accountability for children’s rights, including through committed local action, building safe and nurturing environments for children, reducing the harmful use of alcohol and the availability of arms, and upholding public safety, access to justice and restorative justice approaches.

The SRSG’s report welcomes adoption of the new Sustainable Development Agenda and highlights the importance of its process of implementation to promote a quantum leap in children’s protection from violence, building upon national progress and regional developments actions which are already evidence of an increasingly solid foundation that can be built upon. In this regard, the commemoration in 2016 of the 10th Anniversary of the UN Study on Violence against Children will provide a special opportunity to leverage these efforts, identify successful strategies and interventions, and assess where greater action is needed.

As highlighted by SRSG Santos Pais, “It is critical to place the protection of children from violence at the front and centre of the policy actions of every nation. It is vital to increase investment and re-energize action to build a world as big as the dream of children: a world where every child is free from fear and from violence.”