The purpose of the day is to acknowledge the pain suffered by children throughout the world who are the victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse. This day affirms the UN’s commitment to protect the rights of children. Its work is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (CRC) (United Nations, 2019).
It is a time for people all over the world to become aware of the impact of monstrosity of abuse, in all its forms, against children. It is also a time when organisations and individuals learn from or take part in awareness campaigns centred on protecting children’s rights (United Nations , 2012).
On 19 August 1982, at its emergency special session on the question of Palestine, the General Assembly, “appalled at the great number of innocent Palestinian and Lebanese children victims of Israel’s acts of aggression”, decided to commemorate 4 June of each year as the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression (resolution ES-7/8) (United Nations, 2019).
In 1997 The General Assembly adopted the 51/77 Resolution on the Rights of the Child. It was a landmark development in efforts to improve the protection of children in conflict situations (United Nations , 2019).
In recent years, the number of violations perpetrated against children have, in many conflict zones, increased. More needs to be done to protect the 250 million children living in countries and areas affected by conflict. More must be done to protect children from targeting by violent extremists, to promote international humanitarian and human rights law, and to ensure accountability for violations of the rights of children (United Nations , 2019).
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides us with the universal masterplan to secure a better future for children. The new agenda includes for the first time a specific target (16.2) to end all forms of violence against children, and ending the abuse, neglect and exploitation of children is mainstreamed across several other violence-related targets (United Nations , 2019).
The six most common violations are recruitment and use of children in war, killing, sexual violence, abduction, attacks on schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access (United Nations, 2019).
The conflicts in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Yemen and Syria all show similar signs of exposing children to hostile environment. Violence has deeply affected the lives of these children and consequently they are being deprived of their rights under the CRC more must be done in order to ensure children are no longer exposed to violence.
Goal 16: Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies
The threats of international homicide, violence against children, human trafficking and sexual violence are important to address to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development. They pave the way for the provision of access to justice for all and for building effective, accountable institutions at all levels (United Nations , 2019).
To tackle these challenges and build a more peaceful, inclusive societies, there needs to be more efficient and transparent regulations put in place and comprehensive, realistic government budgets. One of the first steps towards protecting individual rights is the implementation of worldwide birth registration and the creation of more independent national human rights institutions around the world (United Nations , 2019).
Facts & Figures
- Among the institutions most affected by corruption are the judiciary and police.
- Corruption, bribery, theft and tax evasion cost some US $1.26 trillion for developing countries per year; this amount of money could be used to lift those who are living on less than $1.25 a day above $1.25 for at least six years
- Birth registration has occurred for 73% of children under 5, but only 46% of Sub-Saharan Africa have had their births registered.
- Approximately 28.5 million primary school age who are out of school live in conflict-affected areas
- The rule of law and development have a significant interrelation and are mutually reinforcing, making it essential for sustainable development at the national and international level. (United Nations , 2019)
Violence against children
- Violence against children affects more than 1 billion children around the world and costs societies up to US$ 7 trillion a year.
- 50% of the world’s children experience violence every year.
- Every 5 minutes, somewhere in the world, a child is killed by violence
- 1 in 10 children is sexually abused before the age of 18.
- 9 in 10 children live in countries where corporal punishment is not fully prohibited, leaving 732 million children without legal protection.
- Any child can become a victim of online violence.
- 246 million children worldwide affected by school-related violence each year.
- 1 in 3 students has been bullied by their peers at school in the last month, and at least 1 in 10 children have experienced cyberbullying. (United Nations , 2019)
- 16.1 Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere
- 16.2 End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children
- 16.3 Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all
- 16.4 By 2030, significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime
- 16.5 Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms
- 16.6 Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels
- 16.7 Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels
- 16.8 Broaden and strengthen the participation of developing countries in the institutions of global governance
- 16.9 By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration
- 16.10 Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements
- 16.A Strengthen relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime
- 16.B Promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development (United Nations , 2019)
How to get involved
Raise awareness in your community about the realities of violence and the importance of peaceful and just societies and identify how you can pursue the SDG’s in your daily life.
Exercise your right to hold elected officials accountable. Exercise your right to freedom of expression and share your opinion with your elected representatives.
Be the change-promote inclusion and respect towards people of different backgrounds, ethnic origins, religions, gender, sexual orientation or different opinions. Together we can help to improve conditions for all life of dignity for all (United Nations, 2019).
Written by Igi Nderi
United Nations . (2012, June 3). International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression (4 June). Retrieved from United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC): https://www.unric.org/en/latest-un-buzz/27571-international-day-of-innocent-children-victims-of-aggression-4-june
United Nations . (2019, May 13). Background International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression 4 June. Retrieved from United Nations Organisation: https://www.un.org/en/events/childvictimday/background.shtml
United Nations . (2019, May 13). Peace, justice and strong institutions – United Nations Sustainable Development. Retrieved from United Nations Sustainable Development: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/peace-justice/
United Nations. (2019, May 13th). Home International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression 4th June . Retrieved from United Nations Organisation: https://www.un.org/en/events/childvictimday/
United Nations. (2019, May 13). Why it Matters: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions . Retrieved from United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Goal-16.pdf