Protecting children from violence was the focus of a special panel convened by the governments of Canada and Liberia on March 25. "The Prevention of Violence Against Children and Its Place in the Post-2015 Agenda" meeting took place in New York at UNICEF House.
Julia Duncan Cassell, Liberia's minister of gender and development, and Margaret Biggs, president of the Canadian International Development Agency, welcomed representatives of 49 governments and leading nongovernmental organizations.
ChildFund Alliance Secretary-General Jim Emerson spoke on behalf of ChildFund and other peer organizations, including Family for Every Child, Plan International, Save the Children, UNICEF and World Vision International.
Other members of the panel included the deputy executive director of UNICEF, Martin Mogwanja; the U.N. Secretary-General's special representative on violence against children, Marta Santos Pais; the global director of the U.N. Millennium Campaign, Corinne Woods; and the USAID special adviser and senior coordinator on children in adversity, Neil Boothby.
"Thanks to the efforts of national governments and the international community, more children than ever before are being saved from preventable diseases," said Emerson in an opening statement. "More children are in schools and in safe, permanent environments — their access to clean water and sanitary facilities improving dramatically. As countries develop economically, children's basics are increasingly being better met."
"But what are we saving children from, unless we can guarantee their protection so they can grow, thrive and engage as active citizens in their families and communities across every stage of the life cycle? The protection of children and the promotion of their well-being is closely linked to the development of any society."
Looking beyond the Millennium Development Goals' target date of 2015, the panel exchange provided an opportunity for participants to address the child protection work that still will be needed in developing countries.
Emerson pointed out ongoing, worldwide child protection issues and called for action: "115 million children are working in the worst forms of child labor, and an estimated 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 are raped or subject to sexual violence. Three out of four children experience violent discipline at home. Over 2 million children around the world live in care institutions. At least 80 percent of these have one or both parents who are alive," he said.
"This global crisis will only be resolved if governments, U.N. agencies and other actors engaged in the framework to develop the post-2015 agenda ensure that the protection of children from violence, abuse and exploitation is realized."