With recent strengthening of the UN’s ‘human rights architecture’, there are several processes in which action could be taken or increased to raise awareness of the situation of children on the move – in particular the uncounted – and press for greater effort by member states.  These include

  • better coordinated preparation for and contributions to the Human Rights Council – planning activities before and at the time of HRC sessions (3 times a year)
  • Structured, sustained and high level engagement with the Special Representative and Special Rapporteur on Violence against Children and Migration – ensuring that submissions and recommendations are based on evidence and offer solutions
  • pro-active involvement with governments and civil society organisations’ preparations for Universal Periodic Reviews (also 3 sessions a year) with particular attention to the participation of children or at least the mobilization of children’s voices through peer support groups and story-telling, including on social media.

 Since 1948, significant progress has been made in the articulation of human rights frameworks which many member states of the United Nations have signed and/or ratified.  Sadly, the gap between stated commitments and practice often leaves those who are most vulnerable the least protected.

Child-focused organisations are able to speak convincingly of the importance of the needs, interests and views of children being taken into account in global discussion of issues that are likely to affect them, not only in the present, but also, longer-term.  But despite the recent reforms of the UN’s human rights architecture and the outrage prompted by images of children suffering or in danger, the rights-based approach has lost some of its earlier impact in the face of increasing concerns about the so-called ‘migration crisis’.   Instead of providing a persuasive call to action, the voices of children are typically drowned out by more powerful interests, as they compete alongside other ‘constituencies’ rather than being seen as the best indicator of the health of our societies.

 From Sendai to Addis, New York to Paris, Istanbul to Quito, the international community is better informed than ever before regarding the threats to global peace and prosperity and the opportunities that exist for collective intelligence and ingenuity to be applied to refresh commitment to the goals set out in the UN Charter and related instruments and to make good on the promise of the Global Goals.

Agenda 2030 provides a comprehensive framework for greater coherence in addressing complex issues, recognising the need for better integration of long-term development, climate adaptation, disaster risk reduction, peacebuilding and humanitarian response.  But with this proliferation of conferences and processes, there is also the danger that more and more resources will be absorbed by development actors (governmental, private sector and civil society), with even the reformists overwhelmed by the re-assertion of vested interests. Paradoxically, Official Development Assistance is being diverted to finance security and other concerns linked to the waves of migration and extremism that require greater and more deliberate investment in prevention and mitigation.

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