Children's Rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Two children in a Bronx school in New York solidify their friendship. © UN Photo/Marcia Weistein The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development embodies the highest aspirations for a bright future for the world's children, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a crucial opportunity to realize their rights in all countries. Fulfilling children's rights by reaching those who are the furthest behind is a prerequisite for achieving the 2030 Agenda overall.

Despite near-universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, millions of children around the world continue to be left behind and their rights denied, particularly those who are the most discriminated against or living in precarious situations of vulnerability – such as children on the streets, in institutions or in migration situations. Children also suffer the impacts of poverty, violence, inequality and exclusion disproportionately, due to their sensitive phase of life and development.

No Child Left Behind

An approach to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in which children's rights and wellbeing are placed front and center is not only a human rights imperative, but can catalyse sustainable development by breaking down the transfer of poverty and exclusion from one generation to the next. As such, progress can be accelerated by prioritizing children's rights in action plans on the SDGs, as a child rights-based approach multiplies future development gains.

In March 2017, pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 31/7, the High Commissioner for Human Rights presented a report to the Human Rights Council on the protection of the rights of the child in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Child Rights Reports to global reviews of progress on the SDGs

In March 2017, the annual full-day meeting during the 34th session of the Human Rights Council explored how the 2030 Agenda can advance children's rights. A summary report of discussions can be found here. In 2018, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was requested in resolution 37/20 to provide inputs on this matter to the global reviews of progress taking place under the High-Level Political Forum, in broad consultation with stakeholders. These inputs highlight the human rights risks and challenges that children face in the theme and goals under review each year, as well as good practices that can be applied at national level to leave no child behind.

The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development is the global body tasked with reviewing progress on the SDGs and is convened annually in New York under the UN Economic and Social Council. It conducts a review of progress and challenges on the basis of Voluntary National Reviews and extensive stakeholder inputs, focusing on a different theme and set of goals each year. 

In 2017, the Forum focused on the overarching theme of "Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world." The child rights inputs can be found here.

In 2019 the High-Level Political Forum undertook its review on the theme of "empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality". The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights submitted a child rights inputs paper to the HLPF, based on broad consultation, including with children.

The 2020 theme for the High-Level Political Forum is "Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development." The child rights inputs can be found here.

Further information

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