GENERAL ASSEMBLY 68th SESSION: Children's rights on the agenda

The 68th session of the General Assembly runs from 24 September until the end of November in New York. Human rights are reviewed under the Third Committee, where children’s rights were debated during the week of 14 October. Below is a snapshot of some of the key children’s rights issues raised. State delegates also updated the Third Committee on the children’s rights situation in their countries, and you can read a summary of the statements here.

Violence against children

“Progress has been too slow, too uneven and too fragmented to make a genuine breakthrough in the protection of children from violence”, said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais, as she delivered her annual report to the Third Committee. “The risk of violence against children remains present in every setting, including those where children should be safest – in schools, in care and justice institutions and also within the home,” she continued. Read our coverage of her report here

Kirsten Sandberg, Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child gave her first oral update on the work of the CRC to the GA’s Third Committee on 16 October. She emphasised that while States have made some good efforts to protect and promote children’s rights, “the variations are great and there are some disturbing developments. Violence is still widespread – in the family, in schools, in institutions, as is sexual and other forms of exploitation.”

“Scourge” of armed conflicts

“In many places around the world, the scourge of violent conflict continues to blight the lives of children,” said Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, in her address. She cited lack of access to education and healthcare, the killing and maiming of children by use of explosive weapons and the arrest and detention of children for security offences without due process, as just some of the issues affecting children in armed conflict.

Children’s right to be heard- Secretary-General

“In most societies the implementation of the right of the child to express his or her views continues to be challenged by cultural attitudes as well as political and economic barriers”, according to 2013 report by the UN Secretary-General on the Status of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

The Secretary-General’s four reports relating to children’s rights were delivered during the Third Committee session by Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director. Among other very important issues, the Secretary General’s reports contain a number of references to children’s right to be heard and their ability to express themselves. The report called “Follow-up to the special session of the General Assembly on children”, says: “In most countries children’s right to be heard has not yet been systematically integrated into the development of public policies and programmes.”

Linking the right to be heard and expression to the right to health, the report on the Status of the CRC goes on to say: “Limited access to information, especially on reproductive health, prevents children and adolescents from making informed decisions affecting their lives. Decisions about medical interventions are frequently made without the involvement or consent of children, particularly children with disabilities.” The Secretary-General then recommends States “ensure the right to information and involvement of children, including children with disabilities, in decisions related to health interventions and sexual and reproductive rights.”

For more on children’s right to access information and the right to health, see CRIN’s submission for the 2013 Human Rights Council’s Annual Day on the Rights of the Child.

All of the Secretary-General’s children’s rights reports to the Third Committee, including the two mentioned above and the report on “the girl child” and child protection, can be found here.

Further Information



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