United Nations Special Representative and children unite to advocate for fulfilling children’s rights and ending violence
New York / Geneva, 12 March, 2022 – In a historic moment, Dr. Najat Malla M’jid, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, reported to children about the work of the mandate in 2021, with children moderating and asking questions while Dr. M’jid listened to their views and reacted. Over four hundred participants joined the virtual event around the globe.
For the first time since the establishment of the mandate in 2009, a child-friendly version of the Special Representative’s report to the Human Rights Council was prepared, in close cooperation with children and young people, providing children with information and resources they might need for coming up with questions and future advocacy activities.
The online event marks a very important milestone in child rights and participation, emphasizing the importance of working with children as key agents of change in preventing and eliminating violence against children and receiving feedback from those who are the most affected by the phenomenon. This ground-breaking moment is reflective of the importance of meaningfully involving children in decisions taken by duty bearers, as mentioned in Article 12 of the UN Convention on Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
The event was co-organised by the World Organisation of the Scouts Movement, Child Rights Connect, Terre des hommes and #CovidUnder19, which is an interagency initiative supported by many other civil society organisations across the world.
By providing a child-friendly space during the Human Rights Council, the event is also an opportunity for children and young people from around the world to have their voices heard and for adults to realize their central role in fulfilling children’s rights. It is also an opportunity for government and civil society members to reaffirm their commitment towards the rights of children by hearing and taking their voices into account by taking this dialogue forward.
Carolina, a 17-year-old Brazilian activist, said: “Participating in an event like this is something I have been waiting for a long time. Children are finally being taken into account when influential organizations talk about issues that revolve around us and our daily lives. This webinar is an opportunity to share my views, connect with other young activists, and, hopefully, to see the start of a future full of child participation.”
Splendor, a 19-year-old from Nigeria, said “Without a doubt, this historic moment has always been one of the things children and young people globally dream of. A moment where we all have to sit around the table and have our opinions and voices spotlighted for adults to realize their central role in fulfilling our rights.”.
Najat Malla M’jid said: “It’s not enough to say that children are actors of change: we need to treat them as such and to be accountable for our work to them. We need to provide them with safe and empowering pathways to receive information, to express themselves freely, to participate in decision-making processes. My mandate belongs to children, and I am deeply committed to amplify their voices and actions to influence change.”
In the spirit of inclusiveness, the event was translated into different languages including French, Arabic, Spanish, Lao, Bahasa to break the barriers of language and to make sure that voices of all children are included.
The child-friendly versions of the annual report on the website of the Special Representative in six official UN languages are available online: https://violenceagainstchildren.un.org/content/child-friendly-report-human-rights-council
Event live streaming link: https://fb.watch/bUt_rGcxN7/
This press release was prepared by children and young people from the #CovidUnder19 initiative. #CovidUnder19 was launched in 2020 to understand children’s views and experiences about life under Coronavirus, and amplify their voices to inform policymakers, professionals working with children, and governments. #CovidUnder19 creates spaces for children across the globe to be meaningfully involved in the discussions about children's rights and the responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children is an independent global advocate for the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against children. Appointed by the Secretary-General in follow up to the UN Study on Violence against Children, she acts as a bridge-builder and a catalyst of actions in all regions and in all settings where violence may occur. The mandate of the SRSG on Violence against Children is anchored in human rights standards and promotes the universal ratification and effective implementation of core international conventions.
Read more: violenceagainstchildren.un.org Follow the work of the Special Representative on Twitter: @UN_EndViolence