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30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Commemorative conference in Geneva

  | Tatiana Valovaya Speech

18 novembre 2019
30e anniversaire de la Convention relative aux droits de l'enfant

Remarks by Ms. Tatiana Valovaya
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva

30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child:
Commemorative conference in Geneva
Monday 18 November 2019, 9:00
Room XX, Palais des Nations

Children and young people,
Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to be with you to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. I commend the Association “30 ans de droits de l’enfant” for organizing this conference.

Today, we reiterate the promise made by nations thirty years ago to the children of the world. The promise and commitment to recognize and protect their rights.

Today, the landmark Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most ratified human rights treaty. With the adoption of the Convention, children’s rights could no longer be seen as a favour or charity from adults. Instead, they were put firmly at the centre of the international human rights protection system. The Convention provided common ethical and legal framework for the realization of children’s rights and for monitoring progress.

The Convention played a central role in improving the lives of children around the world and in offering the protection and support they need. It brought about changes in national legislation and policies. It helped address discrimination and remove barriers, including social and economic disparities among children. It gave voice to children and allowed them to be heard. It mobilized worldwide solidarity and became a reference for many organizations working with and for children, including the UN system as well as regional organizations and civil society, such as those gathered here today.

Despite its achievements, across the globe, not all children enjoy the full respect of their rights. Millions of children around the world are hungry, sick or in danger. Others are suffering because of their religion, ethnicity or disability. Children in conflict zones are subjected to horrific violence. The number of child victims of human trafficking - for sexual exploitation, forced labour or recruitment as child soldiers - more than doubled in the last 15 years. Girls are at particular risk of early marriage, sexual exploitation and abuse. They are less likely to be at school, more likely to go hungry or to share the burden of unpaid domestic work. Child migrants are the most vulnerable people in the world. New challenges, including rising inequality and digital technology are creating new risks for children. Also, today’s children will live with the devastating consequences of climate change if we fail to act now and quickly.

That is why we need to double our efforts to advance the children’s rights agenda worldwide. We need to ensure that all children are safe, healthy and are able to achieve their dreams. Children's rights and wellbeing are placed front and center in our Agenda for Sustainable Development. When children’s rights are respected, protected and fulfilled, our societies benefit from improved security, sustainability and human progress. The presence of international organizations, representatives of States, NGOs and civil society actors, academic institutions, as well as children themselves here today demonstrates our collective commitment to putting children first.

As we celebrate the success of the landmark Convention on the Rights of the Child, let us reiterate the promise made thirty years ago to all children of the world. Our investment in children today is a moral imperative, and a key legacy that we will leave behind.

I wish you a fruitful conference.