Distinguished delegates and Youth representatives,
Freedom from want and freedom from fear are universally recognised rights that every human being dreams of and is entitled to. Yet they are far from the reality of the daily lives of many children all over the world.
The level and extent of violence against the world’s children – as set out in the report of the independent expert for the Secretary-General’s study on violence against children – compels the international community to take urgent action against this silent emergency.
I am delighted to act as a bridge between this international launch and the launch taking place in Norway today.
As Goodwill Ambassador for UNDP and the UN Millennium Goals, I have travelled to Africa, Asia and Central America. I have met many of the children referred to in the report – children at risk, in need of protection and care.
I have also met a large number of school children and young students all over Norway. I am convinced that countries throughout the world will only prosper if the voices of their children are heard.
Combined efforts are urgently needed to create a safer and more just world, as envisioned in the UN Millennium Declaration and Goals. Progress towards reaching these goals must address some of the root causes of violence against children. However, violence against children is also undermining the efforts to achieve the goals.
However, the core message of the report is one of hope – that all violence against children is preventable. There are already numerous good practices for preventing and addressing violence.
The study is above all a vital tool for further action. The proposed establishment and strengthening of comprehensive national child protection systems would go a long way in preventing and responding to violence against children.
A significant change of attitudes is needed in all parts of the world. This is crucial to secure every girl and every boyl a life free from violence. The Convention on the Rights of the Child demands this of us, and we all have our particular roles to play: as women and men, as parents and teachers – as caregivers. We all have an obligation.
Research has shown us that violence in early years can have dire consequences for children’s health and well-being as adults. We cannot pretend to be ignorant. We must take action now to make homes, schools, communities and institutions safer for all children.
This study is unique. It has involved boys and girls during the whole process, and has thus brought on board representatives of 50 per cent of the world’s population. It should serve as a model for the future.
Children are now expecting the report to be followed up. We must not let them down. I hope this body will resolve to continue joining hands with children, harnessing their energy, knowledge and commitment, to end all violence against them.
I also call for the strongest possible support for the principles and recommendations set out in the report on preventing and responding to violence against children.
We must find the most effective ways of following up its recommendations at the national, regional and global levels. Dealing proactively with violence against the coming generation would be a significant step towards a global culture of respect for human rights, peace and development. A culture we are all longing for and aspiring to. A world fit for children.