Statement by Mr. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Independent Expert for the United Nations Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children to the 62nd session of the General Assembly, Third Committee

Item 66

19 October 2007
New York

Mr. Chairperson, Excellencies, distinguished delegates, colleagues from civil society organizations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Children want to have their childhood free of violence today. This was the closing remark of my statement to this same Committee one year ago. During that occasion over forty delegations took the floor to express their firm commitment to respond to this call and acknowledged various challenges ahead. Today, following the request from last year’s resolution on the rights of the child, I return to this room to reiterate my call for increased attention to the plight of child victims of violence in all regions of the world.

Following the request of this Assembly, for almost one year I worked to promote the wide dissemination of the Study and to gather information on initiatives undertaken to promote the implementation of its recommendations. I have also been involved in discussions with a variety of actors to devise long-term follow-up strategies. Follow up has started, but efforts urgently need to be strengthened to make sure that we do not frustrate the expectations raised by the Study process.

I have relentlessly stated that the efforts to develop such a comprehensive study would have no value if the destiny of the Study report would be the elegant shelves of international offices. Since the beginning, it was clear that the report and its recommendations should represent a platform for action. The findings and recommendations detailed in the report should be studied and discussed by all relevant stakeholders at the global, regional, national and local level for a sense of ownership to be developed and concrete action to be taken to protect children from violence. My hope is that the dialogue we started will continue inside and outside the doors of this Committee.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Wide dissemination of the study findings and recommendations is a necessary first step to promote and facilitate their implementation. I wish to thank Member States and other partners for contributions which have allowed the translation of the Study materials into over 12 languages.

The dissemination process involved not only the translation, but also the wide distribution of the Study materials, including those specially designed for children. I applaud the work of Member States in their efforts to publicly launch the Study report and make the materials accessible within public institutions and schools. I had the opportunity to participate in launches in all regions and I was delighted to witness how they provided a unique space to generate discussion and action to protect children.

Now we must move from words to action. The progress report gives a snapshot of the wealth of initiatives related to the implementation of each of the 12 overarching recommendations of the Study. One year is a short period of time to achieve and assess progress, but I am confident to state that the information I compiled clearly indicates that the Study process generated initiatives in all regions of the world by governments, civil society organizations, regional and international organizations.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

National planning on preventing and responding to violence against children has been identified as a priority for 2007 in at least 47 countries. A number of countries have appointed national focal points on violence against children or are in the process of doing so.

A number of countries are amending the legal framework for the protection of children from violence. For example, at least seven countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa region have passed or drafted new legislation with a specific focus on sexual violence.

Particular efforts were made for the prevention of school violence. For example, the Caribbean region is currently scaling up the Health and Family Life Education in Schools programme, which includes violence prevention through capacity building for teachers.

The establishment of Helplines for early detection of situations of violence was also steered by the Study process. Child Helpline International reported that as of July 2007, child helplines were present in 87 countries, and another 23 countries were in the process of establishing them.

These are only a few examples. It is an encouraging start, but it is only a first step. Much more attention will be required to issues such as violence in the home and family, violence in schools and in care and justice institutions and to switch the focus from reaction to prevention. For example more comprehensive effort is warranted to implement early childhood and family-based prevention strategies, which are known to be effective in reducing violence. Recovery and social reintegration services will also require much greater support.

The lack of reliable information continues to be a global obstacle for informing effective strategies to eradicate violence against children. We are in the XXI century and despite all advancements in technology, less than half the world's population is covered by adequate death registration and cause of death classification systems. Very little is known about the situation of over one million children living in institutions.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The 12 overarching recommendations must continue to guide initiatives to protect children from violence. The multi-disciplinary approach and the participatory process that marked the Study permitted the elaboration of a comprehensive platform for action to protect children in all social and economic contexts. The recommendations of the Study are relevant for all countries, in the north and in the south.

Even though my report indicates that regional and international organizations already support various initiatives around the world and are preparing to strengthen their efforts, I am convinced that without sustained high level attention this dialogue will stop. Moreover, without coordination the action being taken will be less effective.

This is why I reaffirm my recommendation for the appointment of a Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children. Only such a high-level, independent and full time active voice will be able to enhance the visibility and attention to all forms of violence against children and ensure improved coordination and communication between different partners mobilized by the Study.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

No country denies the need to ensure the protection of children from violence. No country denies the relevance and existence of this serious problem within its borders. All countries have shown interesting practices in preventing and responding to violence.

All members of the international community are bound to fulfill the obligation to protect children from all violence. The time to act has come and my wish is that in a year from now I will feel comfortable to look children in their eyes and tell them that we are doing our best to respond to their call for a world free from violence.

I urge you to continue your dialogue in a spirit of cooperation and mutual understanding to ensure that the protection of children is a priority in the agenda of the international community and no efforts are spared to ensure the implementation of the Study recommendations. Children are expecting no less.

Thank you.