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UNICEF: “Children live in a world that is increasingly hostile to their rights”

Posted: Monday, November 20, 2023. 10:22 am CST.

By Zoila Palma Gonzalez: November 20 marks World Children’s Day. The day is set aside to commemorate the 1989 adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) – the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history.

By ratifying this international legal framework, world leaders acknowledged that all children have inalienable rights.

And they promised that governments would ensure that those rights would be protected and upheld.

UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell says that unfortunately, children today are living in a world that is increasingly hostile to their rights.

“Nowhere is this more obvious than in the experience of children impacted by conflicts. We estimate that today, 400 million children – or about 1 child in every 5 – are living in or fleeing from conflict zones. Many are being injured, killed, or sexually violated. They are losing family members and friends. And some are being recruited and used by armed forces or groups. Many of them have been displaced multiple times, risking separation from their families, losing critical years of education, and fraying ties to their communities,” Russell noted.

Between 2005 and 2022, the United Nations verified more than 315,000 grave child rights violations in areas under conflict.

However, the true number of violations is most certainly much higher.

“Beyond conflict zones, children’s rights also are under threat. That this coincides with other crises that are infringing on children’s rights is deeply troubling. These include rising poverty and inequality, public health emergencies and, of course, the global climate crisis,” Russell added.

Russell reiterated that climate change is an existential threat to the health and wellbeing of this and future generations of children.

Globally, more than 1 billion children currently live in countries that are at ‘extremely high-risk’ from the impacts of climate change.

Russell further urged UNICEF, partners, civil society organizations, governments and the private sector – to be stronger champions and advocates for the fulfillment and protection of children’s rights.


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