SRSG Santos Pais urges children’s protection from violence be placed front and centre of 2019 SDG review processes

New York, 20 February 2019 - Speaking at a meeting of the “Group of Friends of Children and the SDGs” convened to discuss the protection of children from violence, SRSG Santos Pais urged UN Member States to seize the opportunities presented in 2019 to raise awareness of the urgent need for action on to prevent and respond to violence against children.

“The Group of Friends has played a key role in ensuring that the rights and wellbeing of children are reflected in the global review processes for the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. Members of the Group of Friends have helped ensure the inclusion of reporting on progress for children in Voluntary National Reviews and at the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) processes. We need to build on this momentum during 2019 – a year which presents a number of special opportunities to focus on children” said Santos Pais.

2019 is the 30th anniversary year of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Also in 2019, the HLPF at ECOSOC will have as its theme "Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality" and will review three SDGs that have special relevance to the protection of children, including SDG16 with its specific target (16.2) to end all forms of violence against children. 

“The theme of the HLPF in July is of critical relevance for children; indeed we could rightly call it the ‘children’s HLPF’”, said the SRSG. “Empowering people starts with empowering children, who are critical agents of change for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Progress for children is an essential indicator of achievements in social inclusion and equality”.

SRSG Santos Pais urged the Group of Friends to help ensure that the Ministerial Declaration emerging from the SDG Summit at the UN in September places children’s rights and their protection from violence front and center. In support of this, she noted the global thematic report on violence against children her office is coordinating in close collaboration with partners across the UN, regional organizations and institutions, and civil society organizations. The SRSG also proposed organizing a high-level panel at the HLPF in July on children’s protection from violence, to share national positive experiences and illustrate how all SDGs are interrelated - including SDG 4 on education, SDG 8 on ending child labour, and SDG 16.2 on ending all forms of violence against children, all of which will be under review. This will be a golden opportunity to stress that all SDGs are relevant to children and are critical for violence prevention and response.

In closing the meeting, the SRSG urged the Group of Friends to add their strong voice for children at the 2019 SDG review processes and join the High-level Panel at the HLPF in July.

And she encouraged them all to ensure that children’s voices are given prominence throughout the year, including in the Voluntary National Review reports to be submitted and by including young people as members of the delegations to the HLPF.

“Putting children at the heart of the SDG review process will be a powerful demonstration of the inextricable links between human rights and development and a fitting celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child!”

The Group of Friends of Children and the SDGs was formed during the SDG negotiations’ process with a crucial mission - to ensure that children’s rights formed an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Currently, sixty-one UN Member States belong to the Group and UNICEF serves as the Group's Secretariat. 

Photo: UNICEF/Nieves-Alvarez