UNICEF: Child Protection

6/22/2011 // Counsellor Lene Richter Strand presented Norway's statement on child protection at UNICEF's annual meeting of the Executive Board. It was part of the "Thematic discussion on results and lessons learned in the medium-term strategic plan focus area 4: Child protection from violence, exploitation and abuse."

We appreciate this opportunity to have a forward looking discussion on child protection and thank UNICEF for providing a solid discussion paper. The paper gives a good overview of UNICEF’s comprehensive engagement, an analysis of the many challenges within the sector as well as lessons learned and future directions.

We support UNICEF’s shift from issue-based, small scale projects towards a holistic approach and a stronger focus on prevention and on building a protective environment.

We also commend UNICEF for giving weight to changing social norms. Norway appreciates the extremely complex and time-intensive area of work this is. The work done is especially vital for strengthening the rights of the girl child. Still today, too many millions of girls are being abused, exploited and neglected due to harmful and uncivilized social norms that devalue girls and women. We therefore would like to underscore the importance of strengthening this work in the next strategic plan. 

Further, we would like to stress UNICEF’s unique role in protecting children in armed conflicts and humanitarian crisis and the growing importance of emergency preparedness work.

In the name of UN coherence Norway supports UNICEFs initiative to put in place one common system for MRM in the field while producing two separate reports for the Security Council – one for children and one for women. As clearly pointed out in the discussion paper, protecting children from violence, abuse and exploitation is necessary for achieving each of the Millennium Development Goals. Without addressing protection issues, investments in health, education, HIV/AIDS may not bring lasting improvements. We welcome in this regard the newly adopted Security Council resolution on HIV/AIDS in Peacekeeping which addresses the issue of sexual violence and the rights of women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations.

Norway has taken note of the increasing complex programming landscape due to financial crisis, urbanization and climate change and the strain this puts on protective social networks and services. In addition, UNICEF has also been mandated greater and more complex tasks by the Security Council which naturally demands greater resources and efforts by the organization. In light of the worrying trend of decrease in regular resources, Norway would like more information as to where UNICEF encounters the biggest bottlenecks and what flexibility UNICEF has to adjust its resources to accommodate increased responsibilities. Like Sweden, we are concerned to learn that the allocation of budgetary resources to HQ for child protection has decreased. We would urge UNICEF to ensure that the work against violence, exploitation and abuse against children receives the required resources, including from the regular budget.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank UNICEF for keeping Member States regularly updated on the situation for children in ongoing crisis situations such as Libya and Côte d’Ivoire. With partners, UNICEF is the global community’s eyes and ears on what is happening on the ground in places where most would never dear to enter. We encourage UNICEF to continue to make visible for the global community the violations perpetrated against children in conflict and crisis situations. The reports currently coming out of Libya, of systematized rape of young women and girls, is a case in point. These violations are not a domestic issue, but grave crimes to which the international community needs to direct its highest attention.

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