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Human Rights Council holds panel discussion on accelerating global efforts to end violence against children

MORNING

23 September 2014

Council Terminates Consideration of Situation of Human Rights in Cameroon under its Complaints Procedure

The Human Rights Council this morning held a panel discussion on accelerating global efforts to end violence against children.

At the beginning of the meeting, Baudelaire Ndong Ella, President of the Human Rights Council, said that following yesterday’s closed meeting, the Council had decided to discontinue its consideration of the situation of human rights in Cameroon under its complaints procedure.

Moderating the discussion was Susan Bissell, Associate Director, Child Protection, Programme Division, United Nations Children's Fund. The panellists were Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children; Pavel Astakhov, Russian Ombudsman on the Rights of the Child; Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Chairperson of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Associate Professor of Law, Community Law Centre, University of Western Cape, South Africa; Fatiha Hadj Salah, medical doctor from Algeria; Jorge Freyre, Latin American and Caribbean Movement for Children; and Laila Khondkar, Save the Children-Liberia.

Jane Connors, Director, Research and Right to Development Division, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in an opening statement said that violence against children took many forms. Far too often those phenomena were invisible, condoned and accepted. They occurred in all parts of the world and crossed cultural, religious and societal borders, including in places where the children were most entitled to refuge and protection, such as in homes, schools and their communities. There was no such thing as an acceptable level of violence against children; every State had the capacity to stop it and must do so.

Ms. Bissell said violence against children was not only a matter of global importance but also an issue relevant to each and every State representative in the room. Violence was not inevitable and it was entirely in their hands to make this change. Research had brought deeper understanding of strategies to prevent and respond to the challenges that children faced.

Ms. Santos Pais said violence against children illustrated the many challenges that continued to compromise the protection of the rights of children. There was staggering data that pushed for action and there was a golden opportunity, which was the post-2015 development agenda. It was critical to preserve the elimination of violence against children as a distinct target and a cross cutting concern in the sustainable development goals. It was important to mobilize for the call that children themselves had made, and critical to preserve the recognition of this priority in the agenda.

Mr. Astakhov said Russia had a broad-based national programme to prevent violence against children and rehabilitate victims, and was setting up a prevention mechanism. New technologies were being developed for both prevention and rehabilitation. There were regional programmes to prevent and detect cases of violence against children at an early stage and the federal law on education guaranteed free assistance whether medical or social for under age victims. Mediation was being developed to deal with family disputes, especially underprivileged families and their children.

Mr. Mezmur said that although Africa was a diverse continent, the response to violence against children faced similar challenges in African countries. Prevention had to be prioritized through human rights education. Violence against children had to be banned in all settings. Although civil society organizations played an important role, States should not only rely on their activities and had to take measures themselves. Political will, including ratifying international instruments, taking measures, ending conflicts, and cooperating with United Nations mechanisms, was key.

Ms. Salah said that ill-treatment against children was a reality, and could be detected by healthcare workers. Doctors had a vital role to play in ending violence against children. Often, there was no certainty or proof of ill-treatment, but only suspicions. Psychologists interviewing children could determine whether had violence occurred. Children with disabilities had to be carefully and specifically looked after. Legislative reforms and action programmes involving multi-disciplinary teams were needed to address violence against children and take all its aspects into account.

Mr. Freyre said that the 2006 United Nations study on violence against children and the appointment of the Special Representative were major achievements in the fight against violence against children. Latin America was the most dangerous region in the world for children and the organizations that were members of the Movement worked with States, civil society organizations and groups of children, as well as with regional human rights bodies to combat violence against children. States had the prime responsibility for forging the conditions to ensure that children were protected from violence.

Ms. Khondkar said that the obligation of States to protect and respect the right of children to express their views posed profound challenges to their involvement in making major decisions affecting their lives, particularly where they were deemed not to have the necessary experience or understanding. When provided with the opportunity and the necessary information and support, children made significant contributions to decisions affecting their lives. Participation led to better protection. Children who were silenced and passive could be abused by adults with relative impunity.

In the discussion, speakers said that all members of the international community had an obligation to protect children from violence, in any form or shape. Violence against children had no borders or nationality and may occur in all spheres of life. All kinds of violence against children were condemned and efforts had to be made at the national, regional and international levels. All forms of violence against children were unacceptable, could never be justified, and had to be prevented. Sharing experiences was more important than ever to find new ways to address and prevent violence against children. The need for collective action, coordinated policies and actions, and awareness raising measures, was underlined. Children should be provided with the tools to speak up.

Speaking in the discussion were Sweden on behalf of the Nordic States, Costa Rica on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Philippines on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, European Union, United Arab Emirates on behalf of the Arab Group, Timor Leste on behalf of Portuguese-speaking countries, Ethiopia, Croatia, Tunisia, Paraguay, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Mexico, Montenegro, India, Syria, Sudan, Austria, Ukraine, Iran, Togo, Lithuania, United Arab Emirates, and Spain.

National Human Rights Institution of Ukraine, Save the Children International in a joint statement, British Humanist Association, World Organization against Torture, and International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies also spoke.

The Human Rights Council during its noon meeting will continue its general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other Arab occupied territories, followed by a general debate on follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

Opening Statement

BAUDELAIRE NDONG ELLA, President of the Human Rights Council, said that yesterday the Council had met in private and decided to terminate its consideration of the human rights situation in Cameroon under its complaints procedure. The President said that the panel discussion on accelerating global efforts to end violence against children would focus on how to better prevent violence and protect children and to share best practices and lessons learned in this regard.

JANE CONNORS, Director, Research and Right to Development Division, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that violence against children took many forms, including rape, torture, early and child marriages, killings, and trafficking; often various forms of violence overlapped. According to the recently released report by the United Nations Children Fund, the most common form of violence was corporal punishment. Far too often those phenomena were invisible, condoned and accepted. They occurred in all parts of the world and crossed cultural, religious and societal borders, including in places where the children were most entitled to refuge and protection, such as in homes, schools and their communities.

The survey by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children assessing the progress made since the 2006 United Nations study on violence against children showed increased recognition of the need to prioritize the protection of children from violence on international and regional agendas and at the national levels, and strategic actions were underway in many countries. In 2006 only 16 countries had in place legislation prohibiting violence against children in all settings, and today 40 countries had comprehensive legal protection in place. There had been insufficient attention on prevention, most States did not have sound and effectively enforced laws and well coordinated and well-resourced national strategies and most had not made sustained investment in family support, or gender- and child-sensitive approaches to support child victims and fight impunity. There was no such thing as an acceptable level of violence against children; every State had the capacity to stop it and must do so. Action was also required at an international level as violence against children was a major threat to global development and a substantial barrier to the realization of the Millennium Development Goals, including the achievement of universal primary education and the halting of the spread of HIV/AIDS. The primary victims of violence were children but it also had serious negative consequences for families, communities and national economies.

SUSAN BISSELL, Associate Director, Child Protection, Programme Division, United Nations Children’s Fund and panel moderator, said violence against children was not only a matter of global importance but also an issue relevant to each and every State representative in the room. In 2012 alone, homicide took the lives of about 95,000 children and adolescents, under the age of 20. Around 120 million girls under the age of 20 had been subjected to forced sexual intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point in their lives. Violence was not inevitable and it was entirely in their hands to make this change. Research had brought deeper understanding of strategies to prevent and respond to the challenges that children faced.

MARTA SANTOS PAIS, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, said that violence against children illustrated the many challenges that continued to compromise the protection of the rights of children. At the end of last year, a global survey on violence against children was launched. It brought very good news about strategic changes made in law, policy and practice, made known positive experiences and initiatives, and shed light on gaps. At the regional level, there had been a very important consolidation of efforts and commitments. Commitments were important but only meaningful when followed by effective implementation. Dialogue between regions had been growing. At the national level, there were a growing number of countries with stories to tell. On legislation, it must not be forgotten that only 8 per cent of children had legal protection against violence. There was staggering data that pushed for action and there was a golden opportunity, which was the post-2015 development agenda. It was critical to preserve the elimination of violence against children as a distinct target and a cross cutting concern in the sustainable development goals. It was important to mobilize for the call that children themselves had made, and critical to preserve the recognition of this priority in the agenda.

PAVEL ASTAKHOV, Russian Ombudsman on the Rights of the Child, said that Russia had a broad-based national programme to prevent violence against children and rehabilitate victims, and it was setting up a prevention mechanism. New technologies were being developed for both prevention and rehabilitation. There were regional programmes to prevent and detect cases of violence against children at an early stage. The federal law on education guaranteed free assistance whether medical or social for under age victims, in relevant centres. Mediation was being developed to deal with family disputes, especially underprivileged families and their children. Russian legislation had been amended to take these phenomena into account. There was the presumption that a child was in a helpless situation up until the age of 12. There also was criminal liability for involvement with the media when it came to children and pornography. The State paid for a lawyer to be made available if a child needed one, and when a trial took place it was recorded on video. There was continued concern that Russian children were at risk of violence in the United States, for various reasons, and a monitoring group had been set up to look into this phenomenon.

SUSAN BISSELL, Associate Director, Child Protection, Programme Division, United Nations Children’s Fund and panel moderator, turned to Benyam Dawit Mezmur, who would speak about why good was not good enough with regards to the prevention and response to violence against children in Africa.

BENYAM DAWIT MEZMUR, Vice-chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Chairperson of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Associate Professor of Law, Community Law Centre, University of Western Cape, South Africa, said that although Africa was a diverse continent, the response to violence against children faced similar challenges in African countries. Prevention had to be prioritized through human rights education. During holidays, this was the time of the year when children faced the highest risks of being subjected to female genital mutilation, leading children to sometimes refuse to leave school. Violence against children had to be banned in all settings. This entailed undertaking child-rights approaches. Legislation usually took certain aspects of violence against children only, for example violence against women and girls without referring to boys or legislation only focusing on violence. Birth registration systems were very important, and sometimes they did not address the specific situation and living conditions, for example of children born in remote areas. Although civil society organizations played an important role, States should not rely only on their activities and had to take measures themselves. Political will, including ratifying international instruments, taking measures, ending conflicts, and cooperating with United Nations mechanisms, was key.

SUSAN BISSELL, Associate Director, Child Protection, Programme Division, United Nations Children’s Fund and panel moderator, gave the floor to Fatiha Hadj Salah, who would speak about data collection and health sector response to violence against children.

FATIHA HADJ SALAH, medical doctor from Algeria, said that children had an absolute right to security. Ill-treatment against them was a reality, and could be detected by healthcare workers who were in contact with children. Doctors had a vital role to play in ending violence against children. Often, there was no certainty or proof of ill-treatment, but only suspicions. Psychologists interviewing children could determine whether violence had occurred. It was also important that psychiatrists worked with children to assess their family situations. Children with disabilities had to be carefully and specifically looked after. Ill-treatment was more common in under-privileged families. If a child had not been a victim of physical violence, socio-psycho steps had nevertheless to be undertaken, including at school, and in cases of sexual violence, immediate protection had to be implemented. It was important that healthcare workers were trained to identify signs of ill-treatment. Prevention had to be done through public awareness campaigns and addressing the root causes of violence against children. Legislative reforms and action programmes involving multi-disciplinary teams were needed to address violence against children and take all its aspects into account.

SUSAN BISSELL, Associate Director, Child Protection, Programme Division, United Nations Children’s Fund and panel moderator, said that Mr. Freyre would speak about strengthening partnerships and strategies in Latin America and the Caribbean to follow up the recommendations of the United Nations study and their impact on the lives of children and adolescents in the region.

JORGE FREYRE, Latin American and Caribbean Movement for Children, said that the 2006 United Nations study on violence against children and the appointment of the Special Representative were major achievements in the fight against violence against children. Latin America was the most dangerous region in the world for children and the organizations that were members of the Movement worked with States, civil society organizations and groups of children, as well as with regional human rights bodies to combat violence against children. The Movement first conducted the sub-regional mapping of the current legislative framework, public policies and practices implemented at the national level, in order to understand how to move forward in preventing violence against children. Next, the information gathered in the mapping allowed the identification of sub-regional actors, and drafting of national policies and commitments to formulate national road maps consistent with the findings. Reference groups for combating violence against children were established in each country, composed of representatives of States, civil society organizations and groups of children. States had the main responsibility for forging the conditions to ensure that children were protected from violence.

SUSAN BISSELL, Associate Director, Child Protection, Programme Division, United Nations Children’s Fund and panel moderator, introduced Ms. Khondkar to share lessons learned from children’s participation in the prevention of violence.

LAILA KHONDKAR, Director, Children Protection, Save the Children International, Bangladesh, said that the obligation of States to protect and respect the right of children to express their views posed profound challenges to their involvement in making major decisions affecting their lives, particularly where they were deemed to not have the necessary experience or understanding. When provided with the opportunity and the necessary information and support, children made significant contributions to decisions affecting their lives; the participation of children enhanced the quality of legislation, policy-making and service provision relevant to their lives and improved children’s skills, confidence and self-esteem. Participation led to better protection: children who were silenced and passive could be abused by adults with relative impunity. Key strategies for providing effective protection included providing children with information, encouraging them to articulate their concerns, and introducing safe and accessible mechanisms for challenging violence and abuse. To date, the right to participation of children remained patchy, with many countries showing little sustained commitment to creating the legislative, policy and cultural changes necessary for participation to become a reality for all children. States should enact the legislation that recognized the right of children to express themselves freely and should establish structures at national and local levels to consult with children when developing and implementing laws and policies that affected them.

SUSAN BISSELL, Associate Director, Child Protection, Programme Division, United Nations Children’s Fund and panel moderator, said that they had heard how prevention was absolutely crucial to this agenda and how prevention and response had to heavily rely on multidisciplinary approaches. The primary role of the State was recognized. Violence against children had to be addressed in all contexts. Several panellists had spoken of families as an entry point for response and support. Social norms and social change had also come up, as well as the expertise of children themselves and how important it was to take that into account.

Discussion

Sweden, speaking on behalf of the Nordic States, said all members of the international community had an obligation to protect children from violence, in any form or shape, including in the home and family. To share experiences was more important than ever to find new ways to address and prevent violence against children. Costa Rica, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said violence against children was an alarming phenomenon that existed in all societies. The protection of children from violence was a human rights imperative. All forms of violence against children were unacceptable, could never be justified, and had to be prevented. United Arab Emirates, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, condemned all kinds of violence against children and said that efforts had to be made at the national, regional and international levels. To counter this scourge, the Council had to be more involved in current and future United Nations efforts. The situation of Palestinian children, because of the occupation, was underlined.

Philippines, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said that the Association attached great importance to intensifying efforts to promote the rights of children, and protect them from violence and abuses. Mindful of the need for a multidisciplinary approach, in 2013 a declaration had been adopted on the elimination of violence against women and children in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region. European Union said that it was committed to ensuring that children were protected from all forms of violence, be it at home, in school, cyberspace or anywhere else. A mapping exercise was underway to help identify the main challenges child protection authorities faced, and to clarify how European Union instruments could be used to support Member States.

Timor-Leste, speaking on behalf of Portuguese-speaking countries, said the prevention of violence against children was important. A project entitled “Street Children, Inclusion and Insertion” intended to promote the rights of the child and support education and health in Portuguese countries. Ethiopia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, advocated for renewed commitments against violence against children, and underlined the importance of sharing best practices and creating mechanisms on violence against children at the international level. The African Union was committed to cooperate with United Nations mechanisms, including the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children. Croatia believed in zero tolerance against violence against children, and referred to campaigns it implemented, such as the Council of Europe campaign against violence against children. Around the world, children were still recruited as child soldiers, taken away from schools, and became victims of sexual violence and harmful practices. States had to show a stronger commitment and political will to put an end to these practices.

Tunisia welcomed and supported the United Nations Children’s Fund’s global initiative and the convening of this panel. The Tunisian Constitution protected the rights of children and recognized the principle of the best interest of the child. The Tunisian penal code had also been amended to better address violence against children. Paraguay said that violence against children was found in schools, streets, families and elsewhere, and could sometimes be invisible. Paraguay had adopted the Embrace Programme to deal with families and provide financial benefits to families in financial difficulties. The PINAC programme provided services for street children who had lost links with their families. Lastly, Paraguay had recently submitted a Bill of Good Treatment to its Chamber of Deputies. Burkina Faso said that countering violence against children was a priority in the country. This entailed the creation of a violence against children council to be established soon. Burkina Faso also adopted laws to protect children from child pornography.

Algeria said that violence against children was a sensitive issue which was often invisible and required national and international action to eradicate it, and asked panellists for their opinion on a possible inter-Governmental mechanism to spur action to combat violence against children. Ukraine National Human Rights Institution spoke about violence against children in Eastern Ukraine which included kidnapping, trafficking, and the use of children as shields in combat. Save the Children International said in a joint statement that 25 years after the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the majority of States still failed to fulfil their human rights obligation to prohibit and eliminate violence against children. States should enact and ensure enforcement of laws that banned all forms of violence against children, including corporal punishment; invest in prevention in all contexts; bring perpetrators to justice; and end impunity.

Remarks by Panellists

SUSAN BISSELL, Associate Director, Child Protection, Programme Division, United Nations Children’s Fund and panel moderator, summarised the questions by the delegations which pertained to measures and good practices on prevention, examples of online protection of children, protection of children from violence in the post-2015 agenda and what was the role for the Human Rights Council in protecting children globally.

BENYAM DAWIT MEZMUR, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Chairperson of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Associate Professor of Law, Community Law Centre, University of Western Cape, South Africa, said that there were some criteria applicable to what a good practice was and there was an ongoing process in the African Union to appoint a Special Rapporteur on ending child marriage. Political commitment was crucial and some indicators of it were whether or not States accepted Universal Periodic Review recommendations related to violence against children, whether laws on the protection of children from violence lingered for decades in Parliament, and others.

LAILA KHONDKAR, Save the Children Liberia, shared some examples on support to families. Save the Children was trying to support parents through training. Experience showed that when parents were supported with positive training in parenting skills, this was effective in reducing violence against children. Men and boys were engaged in addressing violence against children and this was very important and had been proven to be quite effective. Violence against children should be included in the post-2015 agenda.

JORGE FREYRE, Latin American and Caribbean Movement for Children, emphasized the importance that any prevention activity needed a clear identification of the different types of violence and their impact. There could be no doubt that corporal punishment was one of the worst in Latin American and the Caribbean. Over the last 18 months, 6 countries in Latin America had adopted relevant legislation and this was important. But legislation alone was not enough. It was key that States ensured that appropriate and sufficient investment was made to tackle violence against children. The sustainable development goals had to include specific measures to combat violence against women.

PAVEL ASTAKHOV, Russian Ombudsman on the Rights of the Child, said that Russia had and always would welcome in children that needed help or support irrespective of their nationality, colour of skin, or conviction. It was important that Russia spoke the same language as the rest of the international community, as the protection of children was higher than national or political ambitions.

MARTA SANTOS PAIS, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, said, regarding the role of the Council to make sure that violence against children was included in the post 2015 agenda, that violence was a systematic concern in the report by the open-ended working group on sustainable development goals. The Council should continue efforts to make sure that the issue was addressed in the development agenda, remained in the relevant debates, and was allocated adequate funding.

FATIHA HADJ SALAH, medical doctor from Algeria, said that prevention was key. They had to mobilize all stakeholders, international and national, to end violence against children. Progress had been made but they had to persevere.

SUSAN BISSELL, Associate Director, Child Protection, Programme Division, United Nations Children’s Fund and panel moderator, underlined the importance of assessing the causes of violence against children, and the importance for the Council and other United Nations bodies to keep violence against children high on their agenda and to allocate enough funding to that issue.

Discussion

Mexico said that this issue had to be analysed as a collective issue caused by social and economic settings. The Supreme Court of Mexico recently submitted a protocol of conduct for law enforcement personnel dealing with children. Mexico was committed to prevent bullying and raise this issue at the international level. Montenegro said that it had taken steps to end violence against children, including the adoption of a plan to eradicate sexual violence against children, and a project entitled Schools without Violence that included training for children and professors. Montenegro noted with concern that violence against children remained in many forms. India underlined the need for collective action, coordinated policies and actions, and awareness raising measures. India had adopted a series of measures for ensuring child safety, banning corporal punishment, and providing a holistic approach to child protection. Poverty and lack of livelihood opportunities remained root causes of violence against children.

Syria said its children were faced with unprecedented forms of violence perpetrated by armed groups supported from abroad; a strategy to combat violence against children must include halting the media which fuelled violence and also monitoring the school curricula to ensure that schools were not breeding grounds for violence. Sudan said that its laws banned the enrolment of children in armed conflict, the exploitation of children for sexual purposes and pornography, and the death penalty against children under the age of 18. Austria agreed that more needed to be done to protect children from violence against them in all settings and said that the model strategies for the prevention of violence against children in crime prevention would serve as a practical tool for policy makers and practitioners. Ukraine said that national authorities made special efforts to ensure the evacuation of children from Donetsk and Luhansk regions who were at risk from shelling. Russia should stop playing with children as toys in its geopolitical anti-Ukraine game. Iran said that despite the efforts, the challenges in the form of armed conflicts, occupation, economic and financial crises, poverty, the use of the Internet and others remained, and Iran stressed the role of the family in the prevention of violence against children. The Children’s Code in Togo embedded all the relevant provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and protected children from violence, including corporal punishment in school settings.

Lithuania said violence against children had no borders or nationality and may occur in all spheres of life. That was why a response needed a coordinated and multi-sectoral approach, with engagement between different stakeholders. Children should be provided with the tools to speak up. Spain said that it was committed to protecting the fundamental rights of children and had engaged in a number of activities. Spain considered sexual violence against children as grave and was introducing the third version of its national plan to tackle this phenomenon. United Arab Emirates welcomed that the debate allowed countries to identify ways to eliminate violence against children. The phenomenon continued and was cause for concern, with many cases going unreported. There was a Bill ready to be enacted in the United Arab Emirates to ensure the protection of children and provide for deterrent sentences.

British Humanist Association said that the commercialization of witch-hunting, exorcisms and deliverance had contributed to the proliferation of violence against children in many communities. In Nigeria, despite legal provisions, individuals had profited financially from the belief in child witches. World Organization against Torture in a joint statement with Defence for Children International expressed concern about children deprived of liberty. It was recalled that they were at higher risk of violence than many other children. It was important for States to establish complaint mechanisms involving children deprived of their liberty, with investigations of violations committed during arrest or detention. International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies said it was imperative that all ensured that children were nurtured with love and affection, kept away from violence, and brought up with the right values that would contribute to global welfare. In many countries, children faced violence at home, in society, at the hands of teachers and mentors, and at the hands of law enforcement agencies.

Concluding Remarks by Panellists

SUSAN BISSELL, Associate Director, Child Protection, Programme Division, United Nations Children Fund’s and panel moderator, said that there were questions about bullying, collaborative efforts, best practices to improve social protection of children, empowerment of children and their access to services, and the role of the Council.

FATIHA HADJ SALAH, medical doctor from Algeria, said that when it came to violence at school, corporal punishment and bullying, teachers had to be made aware of the harmfulness of such practices, and be trained to be able to detect signs of such practices. There was a need to inculcate a culture of non-violence among all stakeholders. Legal actions were necessary against perpetrators, but prevention was key. Children had to be encouraged to talk about violence they had been subjected to, and followed by psychiatrists.

PAVEL ASTAKHOV, Russian Ombudsman on the Rights of the Child, said that violence against children was on a rise in Eastern Ukraine, and called on Ukraine to stop accusing the Russian Federation of affecting the situation of children. Violence against powerless children was taking place in Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Government was responsible. The rights of children in Ukraine, including access to education in the Russian language for minorities, had to be ensured.

JORGE FREYRE, Latin American and Caribbean Movement for Children, welcomed initiatives and action plans presented by States during the discussion. He underlined the necessity to make such plans available to all children, not only to specific minorities or groups. All actors had to be involved, including children themselves. The Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communication procedure was a very important instrument for eliminating violence against children, and States were called upon to ratify it.

LAILA KHONDKAR, Director, Children Protection, Save the Children International, Bangladesh, said that the legal prohibition of corporal punishment in all settings, including homes, was very critical to ensure that children enjoyed the same level of protection as adults. Training needed to be provided to teachers and parents on positive parenting techniques, and children should be encouraged and empowered to speak out about violence. More than 12,000 children had been consulted on their views on the post-2015 agenda and it was clear that children had a clear view of the world without violence. They wanted an end to a world where corporal punishment, sexual violence and exploitation of children existed, and they knew how it could be achieved: by supporting families and caregivers to care for children, strengthening legislation to protect children from violence and monitoring its implementation, providing child protection services, and making schools safe places.

BENYAM DAWIT MEZMUR, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, said that the post-2015 development agenda must speak on violence against children which was an extremely important issue and it must move from survival to development. Families must be supported to prevent violence against children and awareness-raising must be looked upon as a process and not a one-off event. It was equally important to ratify the international instruments on the rights of the child and their protection from violence. Ending State-sanctioned violence was the first step, a starting point in tackling violence against children, said Mr. Mezmur and stressed that resources were not the deciding factor: there were examples of resource-poor countries which had in place effective protection of children from violence, such as Rwanda or Ethiopia. It took a village to raise a child, but it took a global village to raise a child free from violence.

MARTA SANTOS PAIS, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, in concluding remarks welcomed the very important commitment expressed by Member States today, and the acknowledgement of important practices and initiatives developed in all regions that gave hope and courage that soon violence against children would be something that would become of the past. Strong visions and political will were needed, with a comprehensive strategy in each and every country, bringing all actors together, including children. Clear legislation was needed banning all violence against children. Better data and research was needed. The risk factors also had to be understood, for better prevention. Mind-sets and behaviours also had to be changed. This was a global issue that needed a global effort where all joined hands, to build a world free of violence against children.

SUSAN BISSELL, Associate Director, Child Protection, Programme Division, United Nations Children Fund’s and panel moderator, in concluding remarks said that it had been a rich discussion and that the breadth of efforts heard of today were encouraging. To see a room so full today was also encouraging. It was arguable that the invisible had been made visible today. A unanimous call for violence prevention in the post-2015 agenda had been heard.

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For use of the information media; not an official record