Stronger action is needed to uphold children’s rights in a world where they are increasingly under threat due to conflicts, rising poverty and climate impacts, the head of the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, said on Monday. Catherine Russell made the appeal in a statement to mark World Children’s Day, which commemorates the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) – the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history. “At no time since the CRC was adopted 34 years ago have children’s rights been in greater jeopardy,” she said.

Although the 1989 treaty acknowledges that all boys and girls have inalienable rights which governments promised would be protected and upheld, “unfortunately, children today are living in a world that is increasingly hostile to their rights,” she said. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the experience of children impacted by conflicts. UNICEF estimates that some 400 million – roughly one in five – are living in or fleeing conflict zones.

Furthermore, it was “deeply troubling” that this coincides with other threats to children’s rights including rising poverty and inequality, public health emergencies, and the climate crisis. Globally, more than one billion children currently live in countries that are at ‘extremely high-risk’ from the impacts of climate change, according to UNICEF.

Ms. Russell called for stronger advocacy towards the fulfillment and protection of children’s rights, including through supporting the alignment of national legal frameworks with the CRC and ensuring accountability for violations wherever they occur. UN Secretary-General António Guterres put it plainly in a post on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter. “Children need peace, now,” he wrote.

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Source: The UN

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