Top UN officials urge all to back Annan’s global study on violence against children

12 October 2006

Highlighting the widespread incidence of violence against children in all parts of the world, top United Nations officials today stressed the importance of following-up on Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s in-depth study of the problem, by acting on its recommendations for better legislation and enforcement.

Highlighting the widespread incidence of violence against children in all parts of the world, top United Nations officials today stressed the importance of following-up on Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s in-depth study of the problem, by acting on its recommendations for better legislation and enforcement.

“I think that the decision of the Third Committee confirms the need for a follow-up, for the implementation of the recommendations,” Independent Expert, Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, who prepared the study, told reporters at a public launch this morning and following yesterday’s debate by the General Assembly.

“It would be a waste of all this momentum, this enthusiasm, this convergence among Member States… if the General Assembly will not be able to assure a dynamic day-after for the study,” he added, referring to the recommendations that covered everything from legislation and policymaking to service delivery and institutional measures, while also emphasizing the primacy of the family in children’s lives.

The study concludes that violence against children “exists in every country of the world, cutting across culture, class, education, income and ethnic origin,” and the head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) – which also collaborated in the research – highlighted its “long and lasting” effects.

“A comprehensive response is needed to keep violence out of children’s lives, countries for example must make sure that a well-functioning legal system is in place to protect children against violence with an enforcement mechanism to punish those who harm children,” said UNICEF Executive-Director Ann Veneman. “While legal obligations lie with the state, all sectors of society share the responsibility of condemning and preventing violence against children.”

As well as UNICEF, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the World Health Organization (WHO) also contributed to the study and similarly called for urgent follow-up to its findings.

"Violence against children is a violation of their human rights, a disturbing reality of our societies,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour in a press release. “It can never be justified whether for disciplinary reasons or cultural tradition. No such thing as a ‘reasonable’ level of violence is acceptable. Legalized violence against children in one context risks tolerance of violence against children generally.”

WHO Acting Director-General Anders Nordström said that while health workers were the “front line” in responding to such violence, states had to put in enough resources to deal with the issue.

“States should pursue evidence-based policies and programmes which address factors that give rise to such violence, and ensure that resources are allocated to address its underlying causes and monitor the response to these efforts.”

 

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