Skip to main content

Statements and speeches Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

High Commissioner statement honouring Eglantyne Jebb

07 February 2024

Delivered by

Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights


Burial of Eglantyne Jebb at the Cemetery of Kings


Geneva, Switzerland

Madame Executive Councillor,
Dear family of Eglantyne Jebb,
Dear colleagues and friends,

This is a profoundly moving occasion.

A chance for us to come together and honour the exceptional life and work of Eglantyne Jebb, a pioneer of the children’s rights movement.

Over the past decades, the world has taken considerable steps in children’s rights.

I pay tribute to Eglantyne Jebb for spearheading this progress.

Save the Children, the organization she founded and built, is today one of the world’s leading voices on the rights of the child. And the Geneva Declaration, a text she drafted, has powerfully guided humanity to give children “the best that it has to give.”

The Geneva Declaration became the cornerstone of the robust international protection system we have for children today, and laid the foundation for the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely ratified treaty in history.

From today, Eglantyne Jebb will lie next to the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello. Sergio was tragically killed in a bombing in Iraq that took his life and the lives of 21 human rights colleagues in 2003.

Colleagues, friends,

The strides we have made in children’s rights are remarkable. But we still have a long way to go. Sixty-four million children of primary school age remain out of school. Only one in 26 children reach their fifth birthday, most of the deaths preventable. And today, one out of every five children live amidst the daily brutality of conflict , robbed of some of their most essential rights, and robbed of their childhood.

Eglantyne Jebb said: “Every generation of children offers mankind the possibility of rebuilding the world from its ruin.”

As we honour her life today, we remain inspired – and bound - by her commitment to rise from the ruin, and to build a world where all children, no matter where they live, go to school, are healthy and are safe from harm.

Thank you, Eglantyne Jebb, for this enduring legacy.