Item 71 (a) of the provisional agenda*
Promotion and protection of the rights of children:
promotion and protection of the rights of children
The present report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children is submitted pursuant to General Assembly 64/146. In the report, the Special Representative describes trends, issues of concern and progress made on ending violence against children, including the mainstreaming of child protection issues within the United Nations system. She focuses on the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on children, which has been more severe than predicted. She reports on progress towards realizing the vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to build a just, inclusive and peaceful environment that keeps all children safe from all forms of violence, while building back better after the pandemic. The report also provides information on the engagement of the Special Representative with States and other key stakeholders, including children. It concludes with recommendations that emphasize the critical need for greater investment in integrated services for children, including sustainable and inclusive social protection for children and their caregivers, and the need to involve children and young people as part of the solution to the violence that affects them.
1. Guided by General Assembly resolution 62/141, by which the Assembly established the mandate, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children is a global, independent advocate for the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against children. In its resolution 73/155, the Assembly reaffirmed its support for the work of the Special Representative, recognizing the progress achieved and the role of the mandate in promoting further implementation of the recommendations of the United Nations study on violence against children, as well as in supporting Member States in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
2. The year covered in the present report was a year like no other, marked by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and its unprecedented global impact. In her previous report to the General Assembly (A/75/149), the Special Representative stressed that the pandemic was exposing children to an ever greater risk of violence by exacerbating the inequalities that already threatened their physical, emotional and mental well-being long before the current crisis.
3. One year on, the damage caused by the pandemic was – and continues to be – even worse than anticipated. The impact on children is unlikely to end as the pandemic recedes: past experience suggests that the surges in interpersonal violence that are commonplace during the acute phase of a crisis are often sustained for years, even when the crisis itself has ebbed away.
4. The present report covers the immediate and long-term impact of the pandemic on violence against children, as well as the progress made and the challenges that remain in guaranteeing the protection of children and ensuring that no child is left behind. It sets out the action taken and the results achieved by the Special Representative over the past year to respond to the pandemic and to support implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. It also highlights the action taken by children themselves to prevent and respond to violence and to support each other’s well-being, highlighting the need to safeguard the empowerment of children in preventing and responding to the violence that they face.
5. With less than eight years until the deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals – and with the impact of the pandemic posing such a severe threat to progress – there is an urgent need to invest in an inclusive, resilient and safe recovery that works for and with children. In the context of the implementation of the Goals and building back better in the post-pandemic recovery, the Special Representative has emphasized the need to invest in integrated services for children – including child protection, mental health, physical health, education and justice – while ensuring that robust and inclusive social protection systems are in place to support children and their families.