Child Rights

Working Collaboratively to Promote the Rights of Children Worldwide 

Promoting children’s rights is a moral imperative and an essential duty that calls upon individuals, communities, governments, and organizations to unite and take action. 

The Geneva office represents Arigatou International on several platforms which advocate for the protection and promotion of children’s rights and seek to contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.   

This year, the Geneva office participated in various networks and working groups that seek to contribute to children’s rights, particularly their right to quality education, and their right to live in a safe environment. 

Statement: Interactive Dialogue With the Special Rapporteur on Education 

Ms. Emma Nowotny, Child Rights Program Officer of Arigatou International, delivered a written statement to the interactive dialogue with Ms. Koumbou Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on Education, who presented her latest report on the impact of the digitalization of education on the right to education. In the statement, Arigatou International recognized the importance of digital literacy and citizenship as vital components of contemporary education, enabling children to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values to navigate the digital landscape. Additionally, Arigatou International expressed concerns regarding the insufficient readiness of education systems and societies in offering equal opportunities and inclusive environments and provided recommendations for member states to address these issues. 

“Ethics education programs that support the development of critical thinking, intercultural and interreligious competencies, and foster empathy and individual and collective responsibilities, have proved effective in empowering children and youth as agents of change.”

Child Rights Connect

Child Rights Connect is an independent network of non-profit organizations comprising over 85 national, regional, and international organizations. Its mission is centered around the realization of children’s rights through the United Nations’ human rights system. 

Arigatou International has been a part of Child Rights Connect since 2003. The Geneva office co-convenes the Working Group on Children and Violence alongside World Vision International. Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe, Executive Director of Arigatou International – Geneva, is a member of the Executive Committee of Child Rights Connect and was appointed as Treasurer.

Working Group on Children and Violence – WG/CAV 

The Working Group on Children and Violence brings together 14 international civil society organizations specializing in child rights and human rights to collaborate in advocating to end violence against children through the various human rights mechanisms in the United Nations. 

This year, the Working Group organized different advocacy activities to advance children’s right to live in a peaceful and safe environment, free of violence. 

A World Free of Violence Against Children 

On 9 February 2023, the Working Group organized a meeting for permanent missions of UN Member States in Geneva. Its focus was to discuss how to strengthen the human rights mechanisms addressing violence against children.

Panelists included 

H.E. Lansana Gberie

H.E. Lansana Gberie

Ambassador of Sierra Leone

Ms. Mikiko Otani

Ms. Mikiko Otani

Chair of the Committee on the Rights of the Child

Ms. Stella Ayo-Odongo

Ms. Stella Ayo-Odongo

Director Pathfinding Countries of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children

Mr. Pablo Espiniella

Mr. Pablo Espiniella

The SRSG VAC office

Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe

Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe

Moderated the discusión.

The panel explored challenges and opportunities in ending violence against children through stronger human rights mechanisms and emphasized stakeholder collaboration. The discussion continued with representatives of permanente missions.

Oral Statement at the Human Rights Council 

The Working Group delivered an oral statement for the Interactive Dialogue with the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children. The statement called for States to invest in evidence-based and cost-effective policies and interventions to address the impact of violence on children, prioritize data collection, and increase accountability.   

The statement also called for better collaboration between different Human Rights mechanisms and for higher, better, meaningful, and safer child participation in addressing vulnerabilities both online and offline. Finally, the statement emphasized the critical role of CSOs in monitoring implementation and providing technical support to States.

Raising the Visibility of Underrepresented Violence Issues 

The Working Group launched a series of blog posts to raise awareness about violence against children, particularly to create a spotlight on issues that are not often discussed and that require more visibility and investment.  

Bloggers include Ms. Mikiko Otani, Chairperson of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child; Ms. María Lucia Uribe Torres, Executive Director of Arigatou International Geneva; Ms. Bess Herbert, Advocacy Specialist at the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children and Ms. Iris Amaldi, ATD Fourth World. 

The Working Group also held strategic meetings with decision-makers and representatives of relevant institutions, such as Ms. Mikiko Otani, Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children.

Additionally, and to strengthen its impact, the Working Group developed a series of advocacy messages together with the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children and infographics to support its advocacy efforts.  

Working Group on Human Rights Education

Arigatou International is part of the Working Group on Human Rights Education, represented by its office in Geneva. This year, the Working Group delivered a written statement to the Special Rapporteur on Education, Ms. Koumbou Boly Barry, read during the 51st Session of the Human Rights Council. The statement stressed the importance of Human Rights Education as a basic component of quality education. 

A second statement was delivered based on the mid-term progress report on the implementation of the fourth phase of the World Programme for Human Rights Education. The statement

highlighted States that have facilitated non-formal human rights education conducted by civil society with young people as key partners in planning and designing policies. Furthermore, the statement urged governments to enhance the work of civil society and young human rights educators. 

KAICIID Network for Dialogue

The KAICIID Network for Dialogue (N4D) is a European-wide platform that brings faith and civil society actors together to promote social inclusion policies for migrants and refugees in Europe. Arigatou International – Geneva is a member of the platform and participates in regular member meetings and activities which promote intercultural and interfaith dialogue for social cohesion. 

 During this period, our office participated in its members’ meetings in Stockholm and Barcelona and contributed to the Social Inclusion in European Cities workshop. The two-day

workshop brought together religious actors, policymakers and experts to share and examine examples of how inclusion can be encouraged in urban. 

Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe, Executive Director of Arigatou International – Geneva, moderated a panel discussion on Cultural and Media Initiatives to Counter Hate Speech at the 4th European Policy Dialogue Forum on Refugees and Migrants. The panel reflected on the great potential that engaging media and cultural industries can have in countering hate speech. 

She was also invited to an expert meeting in Lisbon ahead of the 5th European Policy Dialogue Forum. The meeting, titled “Young People and Social Inclusion in Cities” was an opportunity to create a space for exchange and evaluation of existing policies and practices in the field of young people and social inclusion at the urban level and considering the role of intercultural and interreligious dialogue. 

International Partnership for Religion and Sustainable Development

Arigatou International is a member of PaRD, the International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development. This platform brings together governmental and intergovernmental entities with diverse civil society organizations and faith-based organizations, to engage the social capital and capacities vested in diverse faith communities for sustainable development and humanitarian assistance in the spirit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

 Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe represented Arigatou International at PaRD’s General Assembly and Open Forum that took place in Bali, Indonesia from 31 October to 3 November on the topic of

Faith and Partnerships in Addressing Climate Change. Ms. Uribe took the floor during the session Urgent Rescue Efforts for the SDGs – Unpacking Conclusions of the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022 and Localising the “Decade of Action” Using a Diverse Lens. She highlighted the importance of education for learning to live together and of an ethics education approach to be integrated into education systems but also to address sustainable development issues. 

 Moreover, Ms. Uribe was featured in a film developed by PaRD, and funded by the German Cooperation Agency, on Religions Matter. The film highlights the need for multilateral and intersectoral cooperation to advance sustainable development. It explores the strong networks and experience of religious organizations and the fact that many of them are committed to peace, environmental protection, health, education, and fighting poverty and climate change. 

Working Group on Child Participation - Civil Society Forum to End Violence Against Children

Arigatou International and Save the Children co-chair the Working Group on Child Participation of the Civil Society Forum to End Violence Against Children. This year, the members of the Working Group came together to create a Child and Youth Advisory Group composed of 12 children, to support the Solutions Summit Leader’s Event that took place on 14 June 2022.  

Arigatou International selected three children from its network to take part in the Advisory Group. Furthermore, leveraging our expertise in child participation and empowerment, Arigatou International – Geneva led the preparatory meetings with the Child and Youth Advisory Group. The children had active and meaningful participation throughout the evento.

“I would like to urge global learders to bring an end to female genital mutilation. I would like them to ptomote education for young children, mainly those who live in poverty-sticken places.”

Ikran, girl from Kenya

“Children have developed insightful reflections on matters that affect them. It is invigorating to know that we embody a platform where they feel safe to speak up while being recognized as engaged citizens that can build on meaningful initiatives.”

Ms. Emma Nowotny

Child Rights Program Officer, Arigatou International

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