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“Faith and Children’s Rights Study” launched at the United Nations in Geneva

With a panel discussion gathering more than 120 participants, the Multi-religious Study on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) “Faith and Children Rights” was launched at the United Nations in Geneva, on 19 November 2019, as part of the commemorations of the 30th anniversary of the CRC.

The Multi-Religious Study was developed by Arigatou International during a period of one year, in collaboration with UNICEF, the former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children, the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) and with the support of KAICIID and World Vision International.

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The panel discussion presented the findings of the study and was an opportunity to discuss the challenges that children face today and how religious communities, in partnership with governments, UN agencies, and civil society organizations can better respond.

The study constitutes a valuable guidance for anyone who is committed to advancing the promotion of children’s rights: it provides a sound resource to support the efforts of religious leaders and religious communities to further expand their advocacy and action, mobilize new partners and engage even more deeply within their own faith communities to protect children from violence and promote their healthy development.

The study provides perspectives from seven religious traditions: the Bahá’í Faith, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and the Sikh Faith. In total, these traditions have more than 5.5 billion adherents around the globe.

The multi-religious study highlights the often significant role that the diverse communities of the world’s faith traditions have played in the preparation, adoption, ratification, and implementation of the CRC over the past three decades.  It recognizes innovative work and good practices carried out every day to further children’s rights and contribute to child protection by religious groups as a means to carry out their mission. It also contains new ideas for collaboration and recommendations for further actions by all stakeholders, including fostering interreligious dialogue as a way to facilitate the protection and promotion of children's rights.

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The panel discussion counted with the participation of the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Kate Gilmore, the head of UNICEF Europe, Ms. Afshan Khan, the former chair and current member of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Dr. Benyam Dawit Mezmur; Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, Rabbi David Rosen, and Sheikh Mohammed Abu Zaid.

The panel was followed by a reception where children from Bosnia & Herzegovina (Lamija), Brazil (Carlos) and Pakistan (Sameer) handed over the study to religious leaders and provided recommendations to bring it into action in their communities.

“This study can help us to connect with our religious leaders. It encourages us to advocate for our rights in our schools, to raise awareness through workshops -for example- and to report when our rights are violated. It helps us to know that we are not alone in all of this and that we have someone to rely on”, said Lamija, from Bosnia & Herzegovina, before handing over the study.