Human Rights Council starts annual meeting on rights of child with discussion on manifestations of sexual violence against boys and girls

Report
from UN Human Rights Council
Published on 10 Mar 2010 View Original


MORNING

10 March 2010

The Human Rights Council this morning began its annual full-day meeting on the rights of the child on the theme of the fight against sexual violence against children, holding a panel discussion on manifestations of sexual violence against boys and girls.

Bacre Waly Ndiaye, Director, Human Rights Council and Special Procedures Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, opening the discussion, said of all forms of violence against children, sexual violence was unquestionably one of the most repugnant. Children were physically hurt and mentally scarred in the most terrible way, with lifelong consequences. The panel would address the root causes of sexual violence in the five settings in which childhood was spent, namely home, schools, care and justice systems, workplaces, and the community, and would additionally focus on sexual violence against children in conflict situations, emergencies and disasters.

The panellists were Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children; Tim Ekesa, Director of the Kenya Alliance for the Advancement of Children; Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on torture; Lena Karlsson, Director Child Protection Initiative, Save the Children; and Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict.

Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children, said for many children daily reality was marked by a very different environment - they experienced neglect and trauma as they witnessed domestic violence and endured ill treatment and abuse, including sexual violence, very often behind a curtain of silence and painful social indifference. Each country needed to shape a strategic agenda to prevent and address sexual violence and violence against children in all its forms. In all regions, significant experiences reflected a widely-shared commitment to build a strong protective environment for children, an environment where violence and sexual violence had no place.

Tim Ekesa, Director of the Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children, said the effects of sexual violence against children included depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and withdrawal tendencies. Empowering boys and girls in schools and educational facilities through child-led movements and with information on their rights and responsibilities had proved to be valuable mechanisms of defense against sexual violence because such activities encouraged open communication and active participation. The Alliance called upon Government ministries responsible for education and children's affairs, child-focused non-governmental organizations, as well as teachers' unions and service commissions to intensify checks and balances on offenders and to ensure that offenders were subjected to stiffer deterrent penalties.

Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on torture, said unfortunately, the number of children in detention was rising. They were at higher risk of abuse and ill treatment. Not only were children more likely to be subjected to abuse by police and correctional officers, they were also often subjected to violence from fellow detainees. To prevent sexual and other types of violence against children, States should elaborate a clear policy stating that sexual violence against detainees would not be tolerated; ensure that institutionalized care would only be used as a last resort; ensure that all children should be removed from adult detention facilities and; establish independent and effective complaints, monitoring and investigation mechanisms.

Lena Karlsson, Director, Child Protection Initiative, Save the Children, said children on the move, especially those moving alone, were highly vulnerable to exploitation, coercion, deception and violence. Children were also vulnerable to sexual violence during their travel. Border crossing made children vulnerable to sexual violence. Many children were even criminalised for the sexual violence they had experienced, and in addition they could be detained, or criminalised for their irregular migration status. In addition, a best interest assessment was not always made to find out long term and sustainable or durable solutions for each child.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict, said sexual violence against children was one of the six grave violations that were committed against children during times of war. War time rape, whether against children or women, was one of the horrific manifestations of conflict, and all necessary measures should be taken to ensure that such violence did not take place. In fighting sexual violence in war time, the international community must not only deal with the issue of accountability but also with the need to assist victims in recovering from such violence, and with reintegrating them back into society. It was important to provide services for survivors whether they were legal, medical or psychosocial. Sexual violence against children during armed conflict was a terrible war crime and should be condemned in the strongest terms.

In the interactive dialogue following the presentations, speakers said the fight against sexual violence against children must be a matter of urgent priority in the international agenda. The protection and promotion of the rights of the child was not only a religious, moral and international obligation, but also an indispensable investment to secure the future of humanity. The current moment was a decisive one, and all States should strengthen their efforts in the fight against sexual violence against children, and focus on the so-called root causes as well, not just the manifestations. Despite work on the sale and trafficking practices of sexual exploitation, trafficking continued to affect millions of children. The growing use of the Internet for the sexual exploitation of children was alarming, and all deployments to end such practices should involve all segments of society including the international community, civil society and the private sector. The international community could not afford a lethargic response to protect children from all forms of violence, including sexual violence, and needed to be firm and steady on this agenda, as well as ready to take stringent actions to curb this inhuman practice.

Speaking this morning were the representatives of Uruguay on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries, European Union, Colombia, Cuba, Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Sudan on behalf of the Arab Group, Slovenia, Mexico, Jordan, United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, Belarus, China, Indonesia, New Zealand on behalf of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Russian Federation, Lithuania, Slovakia, Uruguay, Organization Internationale de la Francophonie, Tunisia, United States, Kenya, Norway, Syria, Ukraine, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Zambia and Tanzania.

Also speaking was the Advisory Council on Human Rights of Morocco. Non-governmental organizations taking the floor included the World Organization against Torture, Plan International, Worldvision international, and Save the Children International.

This afternoon at 3 p.m. the Council will continue its full-day meeting on the rights of the child, and will hold a panel on protecting boys and girls from sexual violence: prevention and response.

Opening Statement

BACRE NDIAYE, Director of the Human Rights Council and Special Procedures Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, opening the panel discussion, said of all forms of violence against children, sexual violence was unquestionably one of the most repugnant. Children were physically hurt and mentally scarred in the most terrible way, with lifelong consequences, often by those in whom they placed the most trust. According to statistics, an estimated 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 had experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence. However, sexual violence against children was under-recognized and under-reported particularly because of the shame and stigma associated with these violations. The panel would address the root causes of sexual violence in the five settings in which childhood was spent, namely home, schools, care and justice systems, workplaces, and the community, and would additionally focus on sexual violence against children in conflict situations, emergencies and disasters.

Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children were recognized as individual rights-holders, fully entitled to their rights and in charge of their own destiny, according to their age and level of maturity. Nevertheless, challenges persisted, including in ensuring the dignity of the child; in providing the child with full possibilities for development; and facilitating dialogue between parents and children. Grave concerns regarding the profound and pervasive nature of the sexual exploitation and abuse of children, and the use of children in armed conflict had also led to the adoption of two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, on, respectively, the involvement of children in armed conflict, and the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Work was being done on a further Optional Protocol that would introduce a communications procedure for violations of the rights of the child, which could further strengthen the protection of children's rights, including with regard to sexual violence. The discussion should contribute to developing a more holistic understanding of the various manifestations of this under-recognized problem, and of effective modalities of addressing it with a child rights-based approach.

Statements by Panellists

MARTA SANTOS PAIS, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, said the family was the natural environment for the development and well-being of the child. For many children, however, the daily reality was marked by a very different environment - they experienced neglect and trauma as they witnessed domestic violence and endured ill treatment and abuse, including sexual violence, very often behind a curtain of silence and painful social indifference. Girls appeared to be at greater risk of sexual violence and forced and early marriage, in itself a form of sexual violence. Although less frequently acknowledged, sexual violence against boys was also a significant problem, including within the home. Sexual violence had a dramatic and lasting impact on children's physical and emotional health, on their development and education and on opportunities to participate in social life, and was also linked to other forms of violence, including trafficking. Sexual violence also negatively affected the social well-being of victims, as they were at times blamed, coerced to keep it a secret, and often stigmatised and marginalised by their families and communities.

Although being an egregious violation of children's rights, sexual violence was a particularly difficult topic to survey as a result of its sensitive nature; available data was scanty and fragmented, national studies were scarce, and reporting remained weak and difficult. In the case of sexual violence within the home, the pressure to conceal it was particularly strong, with shame, secrecy and denial leading to a pervasive culture of silence. Each country needed to shape a strategic agenda to prevent and address sexual violence and violence against children in all its forms. The panel discussion provided a strategic opportunity to accelerate progress in the promotion of measures against sexual violence, and could become a turning point in the way the human dignity of the child became the determinant in the shaping of policy making. There was a sound normative foundation to build upon, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols. Strategies could be guided by the important political commitments undertaken over the years to ensure the effective protection of children from violence, abuse and exploitation. In all regions, significant experiences reflected a widely-shared commitment to build a strong protective environment for children, an environment where violence and sexual violence had no place.

TIMOTHY EKESA, Director of Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children, commended the Council for analyzing the serious and thorny issue of sexual violence against boys and girls in schools and education facilities. Those facilities should be particularly safe places for children with no risks of harm from those responsible for children's education. However, teachers often engaged in sexual violence against boys and girls, including pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities and indecent exposure. The slow pace of implementation of legislation protecting children, slow judicial processes and the lack of stiffer penalties for perpetrators of sexual violence in schools led to the escalation of such cases. That resulted in some children and parents who pursued cases of sexual abuse either being threatened by the abusers or their children being chased away from schools to protect the name of the perpetrator and the school. Sexual violence was more rampant in primary schools where many cases had been reported compared to secondary and tertiary institutions. The effects of sexual violence against children included depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and withdrawal tendencies.

Empowering boys and girls in schools and educational facilities through child-led movements and with information on their rights and responsibilities had proved to be valuable mechanisms of defense against sexual violence because such activities encouraged open communication and active participation. Entrenchment of clubs in schools had seen increased reporting of attempted and actual sexual violation of children by other children. The Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children called upon Government ministries responsible for education and children's affairs, child-focused non-governmental organizations, as well as teachers' unions and service commissions to intensify checks and balances on offenders and to ensure that offenders were subjected to stiffer deterrent penalties. States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child who still considered sexual violence as a minor domestic issue should learn from best practices from those countries that had taken steps to ensure the maximum protection of children from any form of violence.

MANFRED, NOWAK, Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, said unfortunately, the number of children in detention was rising. They were at higher risk of abuse and ill treatment. Not only were children more likely to be subjected to abuse by police and correctional officers, they were also often subjected to violence from fellow detainees.

Violence in places of detention, including special institutions for children, was manifest mainly through physical and sexual violence. They were also subjected to violence as a form of discipline or punishment. The report of the independent expert for the United Nations study on violence against children stated that corporal and other violent punishments were accepted as legal disciplinary measures in penal institutions in almost 80 countries. That was despite Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which stated that States should take all appropriate measures to protect the child from all forms of physical and mental violence, injury or abuse, including sexual abuse. Sexual abuse was also prohibited by the Convention.

Any form of corporal punishment against children went contrary to the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Being detained in the same facilities or even the same cells as adults put children at greater vulnerability for abuse. Girls were placed at greater risk if male staff supervised them. Inhuman and degrading conditions of detention, including severe overcrowding, could also perpetuate a cycle of violence, making children more vulnerable to different types of abuse. Sexual violence and abuse was not prevented due to the absence of or insufficient adequately trained staff in institutions and other detention facilities. Children often faced difficulties in accessing legal aid and legal services, including medical and forensic facilities, to secure evidence and substantiate their claims, depriving them of the possibility of accessing the justice system. There was not always a distinction between placing children needing protection and those facing judicial procedures. That lack of separation placed children at further risk of abuse. Sexual violence should be abolished in legislation and practice. To prevent sexual and other types of violence against children, States should elaborate a clear policy stating that sexual violence against detainees would not be tolerated; ensure that institutionalized care would only be used as a last resort; ensure that all children should be removed from adult detention facilities and; establish independent and effective complaints, monitoring and investigation mechanisms.

LENA KARLSSON, of Director, International Save the Children Alliance, Child Protection Initiative, said across the world millions of children were on the move, part of large-scale population movements taking place in many parts of the world. Mass migration and displacement was on the increase driven by poverty, conflicts, natural disasters and climate change. Children also moved due to the death of family members, to escape abuse, violence and exploitation in their homes and communities, and in search of better life opportunities or family reunification. Girls and boys moved within and between countries, yet, despite the large number of children involved, their needs and voices were largely absent in the discussions and debates on both child protection and human migration. Children on the move, especially those moving alone, were highly vulnerable to exploitation, coercion, deception and violence. Children were also vulnerable to sexual violence during their travel. Border crossing made children vulnerable to sexual violence. Children were also vulnerable at destination, especially those who were without their family and community network.

As a result of their social status and discrimination, girls and boys faced barriers when they tried to report violence in countries around the world, including countries in Europe. Children whose status was irregular because of migration could face barriers in accessing education and healthcare services. Many children were even criminalised for the sexual violence they had experienced, and in addition they could be detained, or criminalised for their irregular migration status. In addition, a best interest assessment was not always made to find out long term and sustainable or durable solutions for each child. Children who moved tended to be categorised and labelled as trafficked, kidnapped, unaccompanied, separated, displaced, asylum-seeking, refugees, nomadic children or independent migrants due to the reason why they moved. The responses and support available from Governments and the international community were dependent on these categories, and there was an absence of holistic and rights-based child protection mechanisms accessible to all children on the move irrespective of their status at the country of origin, during movement and at destination. Policy makers needed to, among other things, gain a better understanding of children's movements, raise the voice of children, implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child fully, and strengthen legislation and policies to eliminate all forms of sexual violence.

RADHIKA COOMARASWAMY, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said sexual violence against children was one of the six grave violations that were committed against children during times of war. War time rape, whether against children or women, was one of the horrific manifestations of conflict, and the international community must take all necessary measures to ensure that such violence did not take place. Ignoring international humanitarian law, perpetrators used rape to terrorize the target populations and to displace and humiliate them, or it could occur because war often created a climate of impunity. Sexual violence may also take place because of the symbolic value attached to that violence, which was particularly true in ethnic and tribal wars. In fighting impunity for sexual violence against women and children, the international community had come a long way as, before the 1990s, there was even a debate whether sexual violence was really a war crime or a crime against humanity. That discussion had come to an end with the adoption of the Rome Statute which clearly spelled out all aspects of sexual violence to be a war crime and a crime against humanity.

In fighting sexual violence in war time, the international community must not only deal with the issue of accountability but also with the need to assist victims in recovering from such violence, and with reintegrating them back into society. It was important to provide services for survivors whether they were legal, medical or psychosocial. That should be an important part of emergency aid in situations of conflict, and Ms. Coomaraswany hoped that the new Special Representative on sexual violence would make this an important part of her mandate. Sexual violence against children during armed conflict was a terrible war crime and should be condemned in the strongest terms. Nevertheless, there was also good news; many young girls recovered and went on to lead meaningful lives. That was for example the case for Grace Akello, a girl kidnapped in northern Uganda by the Lord's Resistance Army whose members had gang-raped her and forced her into being a combatant. Grace escaped one day, went back to school and was now doing graduate studies in the United States. Grace was the hope they held on to for all children affected by conflict, and all should pledge to make that happen for all children.

Discussion

LAURA DUPUY LASSERRE (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, expressed the gratitude of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries to all those who had contributed to preparing the panel discussion. The lack of funding earmarked for panellists from developing countries made ensuring a regional balance on the panel difficult. The Group was pleased to see the holding of the meeting on the fight against sexual violence against children which was organized along with the European Union. It was very important to point out breakthroughs such as the creation of the mandates of the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General on violence against children and on children and armed conflict. The Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries reiterated its strong support for the mandates. It recognized the special work of the Special Representatives. The Group was deeply concerned that despite work on the sale and trafficking practices for sexual exploitation, trafficking continued to affect millions of children. The growing use of the Internet for the sexual exploitation of children was alarming. All deployments to end such practices should involve all segments of society including the international community, civil society and the private sector. In what modalities should States bolster international efforts to fight sexual violence against children?

JAVIER GARRIGUES (European Union) said the European Union strongly condemned all forms of sexual violence against children, reaffirmed the importance of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols, and called upon all States which had not yet done so to ratify these instruments. The fight against sexual violence against children must be a matter of urgent priority in the international agenda. The current moment was a decisive one, and all States should strengthen their efforts in the fight against sexual violence against children, and focus on the so-called root causes as well, not just the manifestations. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General should focus on the five settings analysed in the United Nations study. The European Union wished to ask how the process of implementation by States of recommendations issued by the United Nations study could be assessed; what were effective prevention measures against sexual violence against children; what were best practices on assistance to victims; and could panellists elaborate more on the challenges that needed to be overcome when responding to violence against children in the family context.

BEATRIZ LINARES CANTILLO (Colombia) thanked Uruguay and Spain for their important contributions to the panel. Colombia reiterated the importance of making progress with regard to the lessons learned in the field of sexual violence against children. Common scenarios seemed to be domestic and communitarian in nature, with children often being the victims. With regard to the illegal armed groups in Colombia, the delegation said that between 1999 and 2010, a total of 4,500 children had been detached from those groups. Colombia had also seen an increase in the sentences that had been given to perpetrators of acts of sexual violence against children, including for sexual tourism and sexual exploitation. The Government had promoted the Convention on the Rights of the Child for over 20 years now, but it was of the view that changing law in itself was not sufficient; there also needed to be an implementation.

MARIA DEL CARMEN HERRERA CASEIRO (Cuba) said 20 years had passed since the adoption of the historic Convention on the Rights of the Child, which had been ratified by all but two States. However, the enjoyment of human rights for most children continued to be a mirage. Millions were victims of hunger, poverty, inequality and social exclusion. As a result of poverty children had become victims of trafficking. They were also the main victims of conflict and suffered the most due to the effects of natural disasters, which was worsened by climate change. That situation of children seriously compromised the future of humanity. Political will and urgent action was needed to solve it. In that sense one solution would be international solidarity. Cuba, despite being poor, had nonetheless achieved much for its children. No child was forced to earn a living and none suffered from violence and discrimination. Cuba called on States to unite efforts to ensure that children had a better future.

CINZIO GRASSI (Italy) said as a State Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols, Italy had devoted special attention to two crucial questions, among others: the fight against sexual crimes through communication technologies, and the protection of children from trafficking. Starting by sex crimes on the web, it was worth recalling the work carried out by the Italian Centre for Combating Child Pornography on the Internet. On child victims of trafficking, the Italian experience was based on social protection programmes, focused on the following activities: establishing social services close to marginalised areas; a toll-free phone centre offering information and support to victims of trafficking twenty-four hours a day; drop-in centres offering guidance, legal and medical advice; social reintegration programmes extended to migrant children and other victims of violence and exploitation; and education, vocational training and job research services. The panellists were asked to further comment on some of these practices.

FATIH ULUSOY (Turkey) said although the Convention on the Rights of the Child was the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history, violence against children continued to be a great challenge that needed to be addressed globally. In fact, the in-depth study on violence against children, presented by Mr. Sergio Pinheiro in 2006, drew attention to the grave scale of violence that children suffered from. While there was a need to have child-specific measures for the prevention of violence against them, Turkey underscored that having the necessary legislation was not the solution in itself; the implementation of the relevant legislation or policy measures was also crucial in fighting sexual violence and impunity. Turkey would like to hear the view of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children on how to make best use of the Universal Periodic Review process in the fight against sexual violence against children; would it be useful if the countries under review shared their practices?

AHAMAD ALMARIK (Saudi Arabia) said Saudi Arabia attached great importance to the rights of the child, which was among the country's main priorities. Following Saudi Arabia's signing of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it had taken measures like distributing provisions to the media and judiciary bodies. It also signed the International Labour Organization Convention on forced child labour. It had cooperated with instruments on the rights of the child. Saudi Arabia had carefully studied the annual report of the Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children. Its authorities had drawn up a plan on protecting children against physical and psychological violence. They had also drawn a law on abuse and family law. It was necessary to ensure the continued protection of the rights of children in Palestine against the practices there.

ZAHOOR AHMED (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said the Organization of the Islamic Conference attached great importance to the rights of the child, and was committed to pursuing the child rights agenda in partnership with the international community. The protection and promotion of the rights of the child was not only a religious, moral and international obligation, but also an indispensable investment to secure the future of humanity. The theme of this year's panel discussion was very important and relevant to the challenges faced by children around the world, as the sexual abuse of children was one of the worst forms of human rights violations against the most vulnerable segments of society. The high occurrence of sexual violence in the workplace, home, educational institutions and community places was a great challenge faced by all societies. The international community could not afford a lethargic response to protect children from all forms of violence, including sexual violence, and needed to be firm and steady on this agenda, as well as ready to take stringent actions to curb this inhuman practice. Besides introducing relevant legislation criminalising sexual violence, there was also a need for behavioural and social change in communities, and the root causes for the increase in sexual violence should be identified and addressed.

HAMZA AHMED (Sudan), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the League of Arab States had adopted a second plan of action until 2015 as guidance for national polices. Arab countries each year celebrated the day of the child and they had achieved satisfactory indicators for appropriate health care. Governments were also committed to protect children against all forms of discrimination and all forms of abuse. The Arab Group had followed with interest the work of the open-ended Working Group on the possibility of establishing an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In discussing that issue, it was important to look at the cultural and religious aspects in every society. The Arab Group was determined to protect the rights of the child throughout the world and therefore draw attention to the plight of children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Golan. The Israeli occupation had caused many injuries and the Arab Group therefore called on the international community to include the protection of the rights of children in that area as a matter of priority in its agenda.

ANDREJ LOGAR (Slovenia) welcomed this year's annual debate on the rights of the child. The message in the United Nations study on violence against children was clear. No violence against children was justifiable: all violence against children was preventable. This also applied to sexual violence against children in every situation. It was crucial to address sexual violence against children in all its manifestations. The root causes of sexual violence and its impact on children were damaging and deep regardless of the numerous situations in which those had been committed. There was still a feeling of helplessness since the implementation of measures was not always efficient mainly because of the nature of sexual violence. Slovenia asked panellists what were the major challenges in addressing the root causes of sexual violence against boys and girl in all situations. Where did they see possible synergies in efforts to address sexual violence against children?

MARIANA OLIVERA (Mexico) said the scourge of violence against children around the world was alarming. The Government of Mexico attached great priority to the protection and promotion of the rights of the child, including measures to eliminate the phenomenon of sexual violence in all its manifestations, which left serious damage in its wake. Mexico believed it was important to strengthen the measures to impede child sexual tourism, and to install protocols to eliminate this scourge, as well as to carry out prevention and awareness campaigns, integrating the gender perspective in any and all efforts, in particular paying attention to the most vulnerable groups, such as displaced or handicapped children. Mexico wished for examples of best practice in this regard.

GHADEER EL-FAYEZ (Jordan) said Jordan continued to give significant importance to tackling violence against children in general and sexual violence in particular. Jordan enacted the Family Violence Law in April 2008 in order to ensure that family violence cases were handled in full respect with the family unity without jeopardizing the individual rights of the family members. Jordan had also launched a pioneering project against family violence by establishing Dar Al Wifak Al-Usari in 2007, which had been receiving victims of family violence and was currently being transformed into a Family Justice Center and a one-stop-shop for all family protection services. Jordan's law also provided protection for victims/battered children and, as a precautionary measure, made it possible to issue a restraining order prohibiting the abusing family member from entering the family home. Jordan would not tolerate any abuse and violence against children and reiterated its commitment to ensuring the effective protection and care as well as the fulfilment of the best interests of the child in all spheres.

SUSAN BISELL, of the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, was pleased to address the panel and it appreciated this year's focus on the fight against sexual violence against children. Sexual violence against boys and girls was a serious human rights violation and had a devastating long-term impact on the victims, their family and the community at large. Evidence had demonstrated that the majority of victims were girls. Research had shown that perpetrators were mainly men from the girls' family and community. A key finding of the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund Child Protection Strategy was the importance of human rights education and the opportunity to relate rights to existing social practice. The participation and empowerment of children was important. The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund was committed to assisting States in addressing sexual violence in a variety of situations in and outside conflict. Preventing sexual violence against boys and girls was a human right imperative. The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund urged all States to end sexual violence against children; it offered its technical support in that end and looked forward to continued collaboration with States in that regard.

BELSKAYA LARISA (Belarus) said today's children were the citizens of tomorrow's world, and the protection of their living conditions, rights and education determined the future of mankind. The fulfilment by Member States of their commitments to protect the rights of the child was of special importance. The recommendations of the Special Representative were supported, namely those on improving legislation and others, and Belarus supported special studies in this regard. Belarus implemented State programmes to support children and families, and the national legislation included their rights, and a mechanism for their protection. The prevention of violence in the family was a focus of the Government's attention, and the President had issued a decree on the situation of children in danger in their families stipulating that they could be provided with State care. The Office of the Prosecutor in Belarus oversaw the implementation of legislation on the rights of the child, and identified children in difficult social situations and took all necessary measures for the protection of their rights. Belarus was particularly concerned about trafficking in children, and believed that the best way to eliminate this was the development of a global plan of action to prevent trafficking, as only through coordinated action would real practical results be reached.

QI XIAOXIA (China) said China was happy with the progress that had been made since the establishment of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Nevertheless, it underscored that poverty, disease, child labour, drugs, child abuse and other ills remained key issues with regard to the rights of the child. China was of the view that, to eliminate child sexual abuse and exploitation, the root cause of the problem must be identified and solutions thereto must be sought. Among other activities, all Governments should work hard to improve living standards in order to strengthen social harmony. All States must also adopt laws in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child; they should launch awareness campaigns to enhance the awareness of children's rights; and the international community should exchange experiences and best practices in that field. China had one fifth of the world's child population, and protecting those children was one of the most important objectives of the Government; China was now working hard to combat child trafficking, among other phenomena relating to the rights of the Child. The Government had also collaborated with the United Nations Children's Fund, as well as civil society, in its efforts to provide community services and child protection. China would continue working towards ensuring the health of children and enabling a good future for them.

EMMY RAHMAWATI (Indonesia) thanked panellists for their thought provoking presentation. As in many other countries, in Indonesia, cases of sexual violence against children were closely linked to poverty, which rendered them vulnerable to terrible forms of abuse and harm. Poverty was also often the root cause of involuntary migration and illegal trafficking. Migration, both internal and trans-national contributed to child prostitution, trafficking, sex tourism and domestic sexual violence. Indonesia asked panellists to elaborate on some best practices to be used by developing countries in tackling sexual violence against children in the context of migration and how those related to poverty eradication measures.

JAMES KEMBER (New Zealand), speaking on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, said children's rights were an important priority. Each child had the right to his or her physical and personal integrity, and protection from all forms of violence, and the right to be free from sexual violence was a particular priority. More than 20 years on from the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children in all countries continued to be victims, and certain children faced increased vulnerability, including the girl child, children in conflict situations, and children with disabilities. There was a need to raise awareness of instances of increased vulnerability and put in place specific protection measures. Sexual violence against children was unacceptable, and that meant that at the national level, all children should be able to report cases of violence, there should be criminal justice systems that responded to the needs of children and prosecuted perpetrators, and the reasons for under-reporting should be given far greater attention. Increased international collaboration on programmes, strategies and research for halting sexual violence would be most welcome, including in areas that improved States' capacities to ensure measures, including protection services, were sensitive to gender, age, and the impact of disability. The panellists should make comments and suggestions on what steps the Human Rights Council should take to ensure that all children, including those in particularly vulnerable situations, could enjoy their right to live free from sexual violence.

HAMMOU AOUHELLI, of Advisory Council on Human Rights of Morocco, said the Advisory Council on Human Rights of Morocco was particularly interested in the promotion and protection of the rights of the child. It also supported the efforts made by Morocco in that regard. In order to inquire about the conditions of juvenile offenders, the Advisory Council regularly organized visits to the various child protection centers of the Government. Furthermore, in 2009 it had held a seminar on mechanisms of redress for children victims of human rights violations in collaboration with the United Nations Children's Fund. That seminar had been a good opportunity to shed light on standards and processes of implementation of mechanisms of redress for children victims of human rights. Those and others activities were aimed at strengthening the discussion on the mainstreaming of child rights in the various programmes dedicated to the promotion and protection of children's right. That was important because much remained to be done in spite of the progress that had been achieved.

CECILE TROCHU GRASS, of World Organization against Torture, in a joint statement with severals NGOs1, thanked Manfred Nowak in particular for his contribution on sexual violence against children. Overcrowding, inadequate staffing and lack of separation from adults all increased the chances of children being sexually abused while in detention. Any form of sexual violence against children was ill treatment. International human rights jurisprudence clearly established that rape in detention constituted torture. The World Organization against Torture recommended that States should collect and share disaggregated data on all forms of sexual violence in all places where children were deprived of their liberty; and implement the recommendations of the United Nations study on violence against children. It also invited relevant United Nations agencies to carry out a study on the causes and consequences of sexual abuse of detained children and develop recommendations.

ANNE-SOPHIE LOIS, of Plan International, in a joint statement with severals NGOs2, said the United Nations study on violence against children and other studies had revealed that school-based sexual abuse was a major problem in many countries, and the main perpetrators of sexual violence against children in school were people who were responsible for their upbringing, such as teachers, older relatives, parents, and peers. Victims were often reluctant to report sexual violence because of concerns of stigmatisation, lack of confidence that schools would take action, and limited willingness to confide in teachers for fear of reprisals. Few perpetrators were held accountable. Victims of sexual violence in schools suffered physical and psychological trauma and were at risk of sexually-transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. There should be a strengthening of the international commitment to end sexual violence in and around schools, and the United Nations study's recommendations on violence against children should be fully implemented.

Response from Panellists

MARTA SANTOS PAIS, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, in response to questions asked by the Group of Latin America and Caribbean Countries, said in view of today's inter-connected world, and given the nature of cross-border challenges, the role of international cooperation was important to take into account. There were many challenges in that regard, but there also were good practices. However, these were not sufficiently compiled, and international cooperation could contribute to that end. As for the issue addressed by the European Union, Ms. Santos Pais said it was much more appropriate to prevent violations of the rights of the child rather than to seek and repair those. There were a set of activities which needed to be undertaken in moving forward, the Special Representative said, particularly highlighting that relevant professionals needed to be sensitized; a culture of transparency needed to be created; special services and support to children particularly at risk must be provided; strong legislation needed to exist; and more visibility must be given to children as many children crossed the borders without States even knowing their existence. Ms. Santos Pais also underscored that when there was an incident, the first thing should be to provide effective mechanisms to listen to the child without it being harassed in the family or community.

TIMOTHY EKESA, Director of Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children, said the family was the first place to start prevention of sexual violence against children. The other big area was bolstering the implementation of existing legislation. The empowerment of children was also very important as they had a lot to share with adults. That had been done in his region. On international modalities, States could follow up on what children had said. An Advisory Group on child participation, which the Convention on the Rights of the Child group of experts had now taken up, was one such example. If States just listened to children they would be able to avoid a lot of the issues that were affecting children.

Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on Torture, said he was very grateful to all speakers. In this panel, he had been invited to only speak on sexual violence in institutions, meaning in detention facilities, but he interpreted his mandate as Special Rapporteur also to include violence by non-State actors if there was no due diligence by States. He had thus looked into domestic violence and trafficking in women and children. He would be happy to conduct a joint study with the Special Rapporteur on violence against children. The issue of female genital mutilation was one that he had considered in certain countries where this was practiced. Joint missions could be carried out, as well as joint reports. It was a shame that one million children around the world were in closed institutions, including small children, whether they were in conflict with the law or abandoned children, and they were often confronted with violence, including sexual violence and corporal violence. There was a need to find alternatives to these institutions. There should be full separation of children from adults in institutions, as this limited incidents of sexual violence, and the perpetrators should be brought to justice.

LENA KARLSSON, of Director, International Save the Children Alliance, Child Protection Initiative, in response to the question on root causes of sexual violence, said that it was important to recognize the patriarchal structures that existed and that this was part of the problem regarding sexual violence. Ms. Karlsson also underscored that protecting and promoting appropriate social norms in communities, as well as promoting the active participation of children in that regard, could be part of the solution to that problem. As for those issues that occurred in the family, Ms. Karlsson said the role of fathers, both as part of the problem as well as part of the solution, needed to be underscored. Similarly, media and new technologies could also be used to perpetrate sexual violence, but they could equally be used to prevent these. Ms. Karlsson further highlighted the importance of comprehensive legal reforms aimed at banning all forms of violence. It was important that those included all forms of violence that occurred in all settings, and they should particularly include sexual abuse in the family as well capital punishment.

RADHIKA COOMARASWAMY, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said she was intervening in the panel on the issue of sexual violence in the context of armed conflicts. In some contexts war was so brutal it was difficult to prevent anything. However, in places such as Afghanistan, community leaders were now accompanying children to schools. Notions of working with the community were crucial in conflict situations. On root causes of violence in conflict, she noted discrimination and low respect for children as key factors. Children often became abusers when they grew up. The Paris Principles talked about the psychological implications of violence. That could be tackled and overcome with time.

Discussion

SERGEY KONDRATIEV (Russian Federation) said the Russian Federation was determined to eliminate violence against children, and had adopted laws that considerably increased punishment for sexual violence against children, and was planning amendments to the civil and criminal legislation. The Russian Federation had been actively involved in all three Congresses to Combat Violence against Children, and reiterated the call to combat sexual violence against children and adolescents and all forms of violence against children, including trafficking and the dissemination of child pornography on the Internet. A Presidential Decree established the post of a child rights Ombudsman, whose responsibility also included combating violence against minors. A free telephone hotline was being considered for reporting of incidents of violence against children. Particular attention should be drawn to the situation of children who were the subjects of international adoption. The existing instruments of international law which regulated international adoption did not contain effective monitoring mechanisms for what happened to children after adoption. There should be international bilateral agreements on international adoption with detailed provisions protecting children from violence and exploitation.

JONAS RUDALEVICIUS (Lithuania) said sexual violence against children was a particularly grave violation of the rights of the child. In Lithuania, people still had limited knowledge of that issue in spite of conducted studies and an increasing public response. Individuals who were closest to children, such as parents and school teachers, still tended to conceal and hide cases of sexual abuse against children, but the work of Lithuania's Ombudsman for Children highlighted the importance of ensuring that those persons were able to recognize victims and that they would not hide cases of sexual violence. Lithuania underscored that it was very important to change attitudes to the problem and to ensure that both perpetrators and victims were provided with qualified professional help in order to achieve improvements in that regard. In fact, ignoring or concealing the problem of violence against children, as well as not providing the required help, were the main causes of sexual violence.

LAURA DUPUY LASSERRE (Uruguay) said Uruguay was pleased to have this very broad and open based dialogue on numerous manifestations of sexual violence against children in different contexts. The elimination of the commercial and non-commercial sexual exploitation of children was a top priority for Uruguay. A national system for child protection against violence was underway. It offered a free telephone service to report cases of mistreatment. Uruguay shared its national experience in drawing up a road map within the health sector alongside the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. That document had been set up for preventive detection. Part of that road map was to ensure that when parents brought their children to see doctors they had to answer questions, to detect violence. Uruguay was also working on new mechanisms on prevention and denunciation. It would give every child and teacher a laptop in the fight against sexual abuse and violence.

LIBERE BARARUNYERETSE, of Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, said this panel discussion continued the series of meetings held in commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Whether physical, psychological or sexual, in the family or outside, acts of sexual violence were not disappearing, but instead were appearing at a global level. Preventive action was essential, and needed to be supplemented by actions for protection and promotion and awareness-raising in the field. The State and many other actors must be involved. The Organization had worked to stimulate the creation of institutions or special mechanisms on the rights of the child, to broadcast the rights of the child and deepen knowledge of situations, inform and train practitioners intervening among children, and protect and promote the rights of the child. Traumatic violence against children must be combated in all ways so that this scourge might finally be eliminated.

ABDELWAHEB JEMAL (Tunisia) said protecting children from violence and exploitation concerned all in view of the vulnerability of the child. For its part, Tunisia attached great importance to the issue of protecting children from sexual violence and exploitation, and the attention granted to their well-being was a constant feature of policy in Tunisia. Tunisia had acceded to the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as both Optional Protocols, the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime as well as the Optional Protocol to that Convention. To harmonize its national legislation with the provisions of the international instruments for the protection of the child, Tunisia had further passed a Code for the protection of the child in 1995. That Code recognized that children were particularly vulnerable both physically and morally, and that they must thus be specially protected by society in its entirety. Furthermore, there was an Ombudsman to protect children who intervened when their rights were infringed upon.

BRIAN BAUER (United States) said the United States was committed to the well-being of children domestically and internationally. Internationally, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund was a key partner in its global efforts to protect children. The United States advocated on the organization's behalf, appreciating its work in emergency situations. The United States was committed to ending child labour worldwide. It was party to the Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. Much remained to be done and the United States looked forward to working with the international community to further strengthen their collective efforts to improve the well being of children around the world.

PHILIP RICHARD O. OWADE (Kenya) said Kenya agreed with the emphasis of the Special Representative on the following areas: the development of a comprehensive strategy on violence against children by individual States, introduction of explicit national legal bans on all forms of violence against children and the consolidation of national data collection, analysis and dissemination, and research in matters relating to violence against children. The enactment of the Children's Act in Kenya, which domesticated the Convention on the Rights of the Child, was widely seen as a new beginning for the development and effective protection of Kenya's children. This statute ranked as a pioneering human rights law in Kenya's legislative history and was currently the only legal instrument in Kenya that provided for social, economic and cultural rights along with protection of civil liberties. In 2008, the African Report on Child Wellbeing rated Kenya as one of the top most child-friendly African Governments - this was due to putting into place appropriate legal provisions to protect children against abuse and exploitation, allocating a relatively higher share of the national budget to provide for the basic needs of children, and success in achieving relatively favourable well-being outcomes, as reflected by the children themselves.

BAARD HJELDE (Norway) said building awareness and improving the understanding of sexual violence against boys and girls was a prerequisite for the development of successful strategies that tackled such violence. The interventions made today confirmed that sexual violence remained a problem in all regions of the world and in all areas of children's lives. Norway particularly joined the Special Representative on violence against children in armed conflict in stressing the special concern on the devastating phenomenon of sexual violence in conflict situations. That violence each year destroyed the lives of thousands of children, particularly girls. Norway saw that there was a need to improve coordination in that area in order to provide a stronger and more effective response. It would like to hear the views of the panelists on how such coordination could best be secured, and what the role of the Human Rights Council could be in that regard.

ABDULMONEM ANNAN (Syria) welcomed the holding of the panel discussion. Violations continued unabated by man-made or natural factors. What was quite saddening was that hundreds of thousands of children were still traded and murdered by destructive weapons in military operations. Some countries that had traditionally claimed to champion the protection of rights had consistently disabled international responses. Sexual abuse of children was on the rise as they were being transported from conflicts and disasters by air for sexual exploitation and tourism in what represented a human tragedy of a specific nature. How would such atrocities stop? This would be by virtue of the application of international rules of law without distinction and double standards.

ANTONINA SHLIAKOTINA (Ukraine) said protecting the rights of the child was very important, as the well-being of children and young people was the most universally-cherished aspiration of mankind. The Convention on the Rights of the Child had achieved near-universal ratification, but, in reality, children still remained the most vulnerable and unprotected group of the population. A particularly worrying problem was the trafficking of children, many of whom were forced into commercial sex, child prostitution and child pornography. The worldwide proliferation of these phenomena required continuous strengthening of national, regional and international efforts and mechanisms for their effective countering. Full and effective implementation of the obligations undertaken by States in accordance with the basic documents on child protection must be one of the priorities on national, regional and international levels. Ukraine wished to stress the importance of close cooperation between the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, civil society and Governments in order to protect and promote the rights of the child in an effective and comprehensive manner.

HAMZA AHMED (Sudan) said Sudan welcomed that a whole day of the Human Rights Council's work was devoted to violence against children. Sudan recognized that children were particularly important since they were a key pillar of society. The Government was proud to have made education mandatory for all children; it was also proud of its vaccination campaign against child infections and the health care the Government provided to children more generally. The delegation underscored that Sudan was one of the first countries that had signed up to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, also underscoring that the Government had created a National Law on the Rights of the Child in 2008 in order to eliminate excision on girls. Further measures taken by Sudan to protect children included the protection provided to orphaned children by integrating them into families; the establishment of centers for the protection of street children; and increasing the age required for recruitment into the armed forces.

NAMA ANNE CHANTAL (Cameroon) said the fight on violence against children was at the heart of human rights. It raised the question of protecting children against abuse and called on States to take concerted global action to defend children's rights and to end violence. Considering the fact that violence against children was permanent in times of peace and war, any action to fight it had to involve information exchange and cooperation between different actors including civil society, police and social workers. Cameroon had bolstered its laws for child protection by adopting, among other things, a law against trafficking and a child treaty in 2005.

ANNIE SENKWE NSENDULULA (Zambia) said in the last two decades, Zambia had made many strides towards the attainment of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by instituting legislative measures, policies, strategies and programmes intended to ensure that every child's rights, as stipulated in various international instruments and national policies, was protected and enhanced. The Penal Code Act had been amended to stiffen the penalties for sexual offences against children, to criminalise the trafficking of children as a way of better protecting children from sexual exploitation, and to codify the rights provided in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Zambia had been, for the last four years, implementing the National Child Policy which made children the focus for development so as to ensure that they lived to their full potential, where rights and responsibilities were fulfilled. Zambia wished to learn from the panellists how best the Government could further enhance its efforts in effectively taking into account the views of children in its various programmes and policies.

SARAH MWAIPOPO (Tanzania) said Tanzania attached great importance to the promotion and protection of the rights of children and remained committed to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, its two Optional Protocols and other relevant guiding documents. Tanzania had moved swiftly to protect children from abuse, exploitation and violence. The Government had taken a set of measures to curb that problem, including the 2009 Law of the Child Act; the 1998 enactment of the Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act; the conduction of a country-wide study on gender-based violence to assess the magnitude of that problem and identify evidence-based solutions; and the establishment of special desks to deal with gender-based violence and child-based violence. In spite of the progress achieved, a number of challenges remained and it was therefore cardinal that existing programmes were scaled up and expanded. Tanzania remained committed to the full realization of children's rights and would remain unwavering in the implementation of initiatives aimed at uplifting the welfare of children.

NAKPA POLO (Togo) said the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Child had not yet put an end to all violations of children's rights. Efforts in that regard had to be made at all levels. Togo welcomed the appointment of Marta Santos Pais as Special Rapporteur of the Secretary-General on violence against children. Prevention, care and follow up required a holistic integrated approach based on the work of stakeholders. Female genital mutilation was a real assault on the dignity of young girls and women in particular. In 1998 Togo adopted a law prohibiting that. In order to implement it, the country was progressively establishing listening centres where victims could alert authorities so that action could be taken against perpetrators.

JENNIFER PHILPOT-NISSEN, of World Vision International, said it had been nearly two months since the earthquake in Haiti, and the repercussions continued to be felt throughout the country, particularly for the thousands of affected children, left orphaned or unaccompanied, and it was critical that these and all children in the aftermath of natural disasters were protected from the further trauma of being neglected, abused, exploited or trafficked. Children were especially vulnerable during the initial phase of natural disasters when existing insecurities and instabilities were exposed and new pressures were created. Children were at a heightened risk of being separated from their families or support systems and subjected to violence and abuse, particularly those with disabilities. Children were more vulnerable to being forced or drawn into prostitution or being trafficked. State protection measures should be put in place to monitor the protection for children, report abuse, and hold perpetrators accountable, and disaster risk reduction strategies, particularly protection measures such as child-friendly spaces, should be developed. Governments, the United Nations and civil society should raise awareness about the particular vulnerabilities of children to sexual violence in times of natural disaster.

CHRISTINE MCCORMICK, of International Save the Children Alliance, in a joint statement, said while the health consequences of sexual violence and abuse in situations of armed conflict were grave and the resulting psychological damage untold, medical, physical and psychological support for victims was extremely limited and costly. Community attitudes and responses to abuse and exploitation were also alarming. The international community must continue addressing sexual violence within armed conflict and pursue such efforts in post-conflict and recovery periods. Prevention activities were also critical. International Save the Children Alliance welcomed the introduction of United Nations Security Council resolution 1882 in strengthening the call to end impunity for perpetrators of grave violations against children affected by armed conflict. It also called upon the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to continue pressing for all parties to end violations against children, and urged donors to fund specialized programmes on sexual gender-based violence and the reintegration of girls associated with armed forces.

Concluding Remarks

MARTA SANTOS PAIS, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, addressed four issues. Firstly, there was the need to have safe, accessible monitoring mechanisms. In that regard, some States had pointed out the role of ombudsmen. It was crucial to note the importance of that role. Secondly, on the role of data, she stressed how crucial it was to complement data with household data. The multi indicator cluster survey of the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund was one element of that. It would be instrumental in helping Governments prevent violence altogether. Thirdly, on how to ensure better coordination across mandate holders, she said that had to remain on the agenda. It was crucial to bring mandate holders together to take advantage of their expertise and to make use of moving the issue forward. Fourth, she noted the importance of standards, commitments and good practices. Eventually States would be able to celebrate good results rather than listing grave concerns.

TIMOTHY EKESA, Director of Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children, said the main thing was the need to be deliberate in actions - there had been a lot of talk, but it was up to the international community to make a deliberate effort to coordinate the efforts of civil society, Governments, and children themselves, from the local level up to the global level. Policies should also be implemented holistically, as the lack of this perpetuated violence. The four principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including the best interests of the child, non-discrimination and the opinion of the child, needed to be borne in mind, and children needed to be involved in matters affecting them.

LENA KARLSSON, Director, International Save the Children Alliance, Child Protection Initiative, in her concluding remarks, emphasized the importance of reaching agreements on the protection of victims, as well as the need to reinforce legal and psychological help to victims. She said the importance of providing young people with appropriate information on sexual exploitation had rightly been highlighted during the interactive dialogue. The Universal Periodic Review process could also play an important role in fighting sexual violence by encouraging States under review to make strong commitments and follow-up on these. Ms. Karlsson also called for the development of a communication procedure aimed at bringing child rights abuses to the attention of the Committee dealing with monitoring the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It was also essential that children could access that Committee both directly and through the relevant United Nations Representatives.

MANFRED NOWAK, Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, used this opportunity to thank the Council for dedicating a whole day to the topic. His mandate was coming to an end; he would nonetheless stress the situation of children detained and those exposed to sexual violence in particular.

RADHIKA COOMARASWAMY, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said the Secretary-General had been asked to list parties who committed sexual violence against children in armed conflict. At the moment, the criteria for listing was with the Security Council Member States and by March 12 the Task Force would deliberate this issue, keeping Member States and non-governmental organizations informed up until the end.

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1Joint statement: World Organization against Torture; Defence for Children International; ECPAT International; International Federation Terre des Hommes; International Catholic Child Bureau; Plan International; Child Rights Information Network; African Child Policy Forum; and NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

2Joint statement: Plan International; Defence for Children International; International Catholic Child Bureau; SOS Children's Villages; World Vision International; International Federation Terre des Hommes; NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child; War Child Holland; Child Helpine International; and WAO Afrique (World Association for Orphans and Abandoned Children).

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For use of the information media; not an official record