Millions of children at risk globally

Staff Correspondent

19 November, 2019 12:00 AM printer

The lives of millions of children are at risk because the majority of the world nations has failed to renew their commitment to children’s rights, according to six leading international child rights organisations. 

The alliance expresses its outrage at the global inaction as the UN marks the 30th anniversary of the most widely ratified international human rights treaty on November 20, said a press release sent by the alliance.

The agencies represented by a coalition namely Joining Forces expressed dismay that only a handful of countries have made concrete commitments to advance the children’s rights to mark the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on November 20.

Less than half of all countries have so far adopted the global pledge “For every child, every right” at the invitation of UNICEF and the United Nations, the press release said.

Worse still is that less than 50 countries have submitted national pledges and almost none of the countries with the highest rates of child poverty and deprivation have made any commitments.

“There are millions of children who have been left behind,” said Meg Gardinier, secretary general of ChildFund Alliance and chair of Joining Forces.

“For all we have achieved since 1989, their suffering is a grave breach of the promises made to children 30 years ago. It is imperative that states work with renewed vigour and urgency to realize the rights of all children.”

The six agencies urged the governments to make specific policy commitments for children or pledge increased investments in areas such as education, health or social protection.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty in history.

It has prompted substantial investment in children’s health, education and safety and the adoption of laws and policies that recognise the rights of children, particularly in areas where they are vulnerable, including labour exploitation, corporal punishment, alternative care and forced and early marriage.

However, the coalition expressed grave concern that despite extraordinary advances in the last three decades, the lives of too many children remain blighted.

President and Chief Executive Officer of World Vision International Andrew Morley said: “Shocking numbers continue to die from preventable causes, with millions more missing school or facing heart-breaking abuse. “

“An estimated 12 million girls under 18 are married each year. I recently met an 8-year-old girl in East Africa who had been subjected to forced marriage. Her childhood was stolen and her future devastated. We cannot stand by and allow this atrocity to keep happening,” he said.

The Joining Forces report: A Second Revolution: 30 Years of Child Rights, and the Unfinished Agenda, showed that commitments made three decades ago to protect the rights of children remain unfulfilled for millions. Violence still affects countless number of children. Discrimination based on age, gender, disability, sexual orientation and religion harms children worldwide.

Key factors include a lack of investment in critically important services. Most countries fall well short of spending 5%-6% of their GDP needed to ensure universal coverage of essential healthcare and foreign aid, which many lower-income countries rely on.

Another factor, the report said, is the lack of quality data. Governments tend to rely on data that reflects national averages, making it difficult to identify the needs of specific children and monitor progress. Comprehensive data collection and disaggregation of data by gender, age, disability and locality, are increasingly important as rights violations disproportionally affect disadvantaged children.

Existing statistics show that poverty is still the single greatest determinant of outcomes for a child. Children in the poorest 20% of households are 40% more likely than average to die before their fifth birthday.

Young children in the poorest families as well as in rural and remote areas are 2 to 3 times more likely to suffer stunted physical growth. Children worldwide are twice as likely as adults to live in extreme poverty.

The joining Forces or the coalition is an alliance of six leading international NGOs working with and for children under the age of 18 to secure their rights and end violence against them.

The alliance comprises ChildFund Alliance, Plan International, Save the Children International, SOS Children’s Villages International, Terre des Hommes International Federation and World Vision International.