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Investing in Integrated Services to Prevent and Respond to Violence against Children: A conversation at the margins of the Human Rights Council

More than 187 people tuned in for the panel discussion “Investing in Integrated Services to Prevent and Respond to Violence against Children,” held online on 17 March 2022 at the margins of the 49th Human Rights Council.

The event was organized by the Office of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children and the Child Rights Connect Working Group on Children and Violence, composed of 17 civil society organizations, co-convened by Arigatou International – Geneva and World Vision International.

During the discussions, member states, UN entities, civil society and children themselves shared their experiences and perspectives on assessing the cost of violence, as well as the dividend paid by spending on effective violence prevention.

Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe, Executive Director of Arigatou International Geneva welcomed the participants highlighting the Working Group’s commitment to contribute to advancing the 2013 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular the goals and targets related to preventing violence against children.

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The panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Najat Maalla M'jid, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children. In her opening remarks, she stressed how violence against children is increasing more and more, but at the same time, it is becoming less visible.

She ensured that all forms of violence against children can be stopped. “Yes, we can stop violence against children because we know what to do and how to do it. We need to invest in cross-sectoral integrated services that are child and gender-sensitive and inclusive, with access to all children, independent of their status,” she stated.

Speakers discussed how investing in integrated services to prevent and respond to violence against children is essential to realizing children’s rights, enhancing accountability and ensuring sustainable human capital development. They also highlighted the importance of mobilizing all key stakeholders, including children themselves.

“Decisions concerning our own safety and well-being, lie not in our hands, but in the hands of adults,” said Ojaswi, a 17-year-old girl from India, reflecting on how providing a platform for children’s meaningful participation is one of the biggest steps to ending violence against children by 2030. She called on decision-makers to listen to children and to include them in the discussions of issues that affect them. “We are not just your future, we children exist now and we are an as larger part of the present as you are (…) So include us, children, in the fight for our rights and well-being,” she concluded.

Januka, a young activist from Nepal, stressed that having policies and guidelines is not enough. The programs need to be implemented to have a real impact: "There is a strong base in Nepal for child participation, but we also face many challenges. Despite good guidelines and policies, the most challenging issue is implementation," she explained.

Panelists also included Ms. Maria do Livramento Silva, President of the Cabo Verde Institute of Child and Adolescence, Ministry of Family, Inclusion and Social Development; Mr. Mohammed Meqdady, Secretary-General of the National Council for Family Affairs, Jordan; Ms. Dana Buzducea, Partnership Leader, Advocacy and External Engagement, World Vision International, and Mr. Cornelius Williams, Director of Child Protection, UNICEF.

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During the discussion, panelists spoke of the devastating and long-lasting effects of violence on children, families and societies as a whole. Investing in integrated services for children was presented as a high-return solution, which must be seen as an integral part of implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child and every government’s overall economic growth and development strategy. It is also a cornerstone of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The full recording can be found HERE.

We thank the panel of speakers for sharing their knowledge, reflections and good practices; and the attendants, for their interest in stopping violence against children.