World Report on Violence Against Children - Launch in Geneva

Summary: The Secretary-General's Study on Violence Against Children was launched in Geneva on the occasion of the Universal Children's Day.

[GENEVA, 20 November 2006] – The UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children was launched in Geneva on the occasion of the Universal Day of the Child, also celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Committee on the rights of the child and 17 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

This launch marked the publication of the book: ‘World Report on Violence Against Children’, which complements a shorter report that was presented at the 61st Session of the UN General Assembly on 11 October 2006 in New York. The purpose of this event was to discuss follow up to the Study with NGOs, young people, representatives from governments and UN Agencies.

Professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the Independent Expert who leads the Study, started by saying that the ‘history of violence is a tale of silence; we are still waiting for the emancipation of children in terms of their rights being recognised’ and he hoped that this Study would contribute to combating this silence.

He went on to say that independently of what the General Assembly will decide in terms of the future of the Study, some tasks for Member States and UN agencies were clear: to widely disseminate the Study, to ensure high level attention to the recommendations of the Study by the UN, including treaty bodies, Special Procedures and the Human Rights Council.

Moushira Khattab from the Committee on the Rights of the Child said that UN agencies should continue to work together to provide States parties with assistance in their implementation of the recommendations, however this was not enough, as there is a need for a Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children.

Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, President of the Human Rights Council, said he wanted to organise an event on violence against children at the 4th Session of the Human Rights Council in March or April 2006 to help disseminate the report, look at cooperation between UN agencies and discuss how Special Procedures can be strengthened.

Roberta Cecchetti, from Save the Children, also Convenor of the NGO Group Subgroup on Children and Violence emphasised the role that NGOs have had in facilitating and supporting the participation of boys and girls. She asked the various representatives of the UN agencies present to ensure they would continue to involve children, young people and NGOs in their follow up activities.

Jo Becker from Human Rights Watch and Chair of the NGO Advisory Panel said this Study needs a high level global advocate as was established after the publication of Graça Machel’s Study on children and armed conflict. ‘We regret it seems unlikely Member States will establish such an office but we hope they will commit to this in the coming years. For our part, we remain committed to continuing our work’ she said.

Jane Connors from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said her office was currently discussing its role in follow up and implementation, including what sort of support it can provide to States, who have the prime responsibility in implementing the recommendations, followed by the UN and civil society.

She said OHCHR would support the Independent Expert ‘as he follows implementation of his recommendations from now until the next General Assembly meeting where he will report on progress’ referring to the possibility of his mandate being extended for another year, hence postponing a decision on the appointment of a Special Representative..

Marta Santos Pais, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, said there remained three major challenges: that violence remains widely accepted and condoned, that violence is still formally accepted as educational, a form of punishment or discipline, and that it remains hidden and absent from statistical data.

Other speakers included two young representatives who had participated at regional meetings, representatives from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and UNESCO.

The General Assembly is expected to vote on a Resolution on the Rights of the Child shortly, which would include recommendations on the Study findings. Information about the outcome of the voting will be available on the CRIN Violence website. In the meantime, read more about child rights at the General Assembly.

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