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Monday, March 15, 2010

Special Report by WFUNA: Annual meeting on the rights of the child

The Annual Meeting on the Rights of the Child took place at the Palais des Nations on Wednesday 10 March. 

During the meeting, the international community reported on the significant actions which have been taken by different countries on institutional, normative and political levels to promote and protect children's rights. The day's debates were mostly centered around issues of sexual violence against children. It was mentioned that sexual activity is often seen as a private matter, making communities irresolute and disinclined to act and intervene in cases of sexual exploitations; these attitudes only make children even more susceptible to sexual abuse. Sexual violence increased the vulnerability of children to HIV infection both directly and indirectly, an argument for why ending sexual violence is a vital step in efforts to prevent the spread of HIV.

20 years ago, UNICEF helped to develop the Optional Protocol to protect children form the worst forms of commercial sexual exploitation, elaborating further on some of the crucial child protection measures contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Optional Protocol also calls for State parties to criminalize all violations of children's rights, particularly the sale of children for the purposes of sexual exploitation, organ transfer, forced labor, and adoptions and offenses relating to child prostitution and pornography. 

Members participating in the discussion expressed their concerns for the widespread practice of children's rights violations and violence against children. Many states agreed that the efficient lawful surveillance of schools should be organized. Numerous scandals in residential institutions and schools show that sexual violence can happen anywhere and that anyone can be an abuser.

In the interactive dialogue, participants came to the point that violence against children is never justifiable. Speakers agreed that it is crucial to create an environment in which children were self-assured and resistant. Children should also be able to press for reparation and should be able to directly address state authorities.

The Human Rights Council has focused much attention on the obligations of the international community to take all necessary steps to ensure that children have access to child-sensitive services and mechanisms guaranteeing their protection, effective preventive measures and adequate responses to sexual violence, wherever and whenever it takes place.


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