Sad to say, on this 33ème International Children's Rights Day (20 November): despite strong international mobilisation over the past three decades, children are still the first victims of crises. And the future of the world is seriously threatened.
Thirty-three years ago, the United Nations adopted the first binding international treaty to make children full subjects of law. The text - the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) - has since been signed by more than 196 states, which have thus committed themselves to doing their utmost to ensure that children under the age of 18 enjoy their full human rights. Over the past twenty years, states have made increasing commitments to improve the effectiveness of children's rights, for example by ratifying the 3ème Optional Protocol to the CRCwhich allows children to complain to the Committee on the Rights of the Child if their rights have been violated, the Statement on school safetywhich aims to protect schools from attack and conflict; the Paris Principles and Commitmentss, which aim to stop the use or recruitment of child soldiers, or the Vancouver PrinciplesThese are a set of political commitments that focus on the protection of children in peacekeeping operations, including at all stages of the conflict cycle.
Children, the first victims of crises
And yet, despite the mobilisation of States, children are still the first victims of economic, political, security, health and environmental crises. Because of their age, their vulnerability and their dependence on adults, they are more exposed to the social consequences of crises and violence: The COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to school dropouts and financial problems for households, has increased the difficulties of the youngest children with a considerable increase in the number of child soldiers, an increase in attacks on schools, an explosion in early marriages and pregnancies... And it is very much to be feared that the current inflation and increase in the cost of foodstuffs will lead to an increase in poverty and famine for millions of children, further aggravating what could already be described as a catastrophic situation.
A catastrophic situation around the world
Today, more than 385 million children and young people live in poverty, 154.8 million are at risk of hunger244 million are deprived of education and nearly 250 million, or 1 in 9, grow up in conflict-affected areas and countries. Between 2005 and 2020, as many as 266,000 grave violations were committed against children by state and non-state actors in over 30 conflict situations in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. There are now 36.5 million children displacedThis is the highest number recorded since the Second World War. Developed countries are not spared, with France for example, 21% of children living below the poverty line, more than 50,000 children and adolescents are victims of physical, sexual and psychological violence every year, , and thousands of children deprived of education.
Without children's rights, what kind of world is tomorrow?
How can these children, deprived today of access to essential services and to their most basic rights, be adults in the future who are actors in their development, autonomous and citizens? How will they be able to contribute actively to the construction of a fairer world? How will they be able to cope with the crises that are likely to multiply? How can they in turn protect their children and the future of the planet? The answer is simple: they will not, and the very future of the world will be threatened.
The international community has pledged to build a just and sustainable world by 2030. Without respect for the fundamental rights of every child, everywhere in the world, this wish will remain empty. In the face of such a threat, Action Education calls on the international community as a whole, States, civil society and the private sector, to mobilise to make the respect of children's rights a priority and an absolute reality. Everything must be done to ensure that the commitments made do not remain a dead letter and that every child, girl and boy, has access to a civil status, to 12 years of free, inclusive and quality education, to acceptable standards of living, to health care, to sufficient and adapted food and to the protection necessary for his or her development and security.