International day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression – 4th June, 2022
The purpose of the day is to acknowledge the pain suffered by children throughout the world who are the victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse. The recognition re-echoes the need to reflect on the commitments by all key actors to protect the children and to create safer spaces for the victims to heal from the impacts of aggression.
All over the world, whenever conflicts arise, children have continued to remain a target of violence and aggression in many ways. Millions of these children all over the world remain victims and prone to the worst forms of aggression and violence.
In war torn areas children are recruited in wars; sexually abused, assaulted and exploited; trafficked and abducted; killed and denied access to health and education facilities as well as other humanitarian assistances. These are grave violations against children that ought to be condemned heavily. However, many of these go unreported and unaccounted for as the conflict affected areas remain inaccessible and unsafe to humanitarian workers and institutions. There are several other factors that have made the unaccountability for such violations including the failure of the states to honor their obligations to protect children and bring the perpetrators to books.
These forms of aggression expose children to immeasurable suffering, physical, mental and emotional long-term illnesses and trauma deteriorating their degrees of early childhood development, general health and wellbeing.
Efforts by the international community have further been frustrated by the evils of the discrimination on grounds of race and other socially constructed lines of differences based on tribe, ethnicity, sexuality and religion among others.
The failure of different states to effectively recognize and grant free passage and relief to refugees continues to devastate the livelihood of children fleeing conflict and in many ways causing poor health and death among children affected by aggression.
The emergence of humanitarian crises in Ukraine has put more pressure on the state and key actors to reflect on their pledges to protect the children from the scourge of war and aggression which is at the center of humanity.
The children not only need protection from the grave violations, but also need a guarantee of provision of their fundamental rights and basic needs including the right to family, education, the highest attainable degrees of health and safe environments to help them thrive and survive.
Following on the ground-breaking Graça Machel report, which drew global attention to the devastating impact of armed conflict on children, in 1997 The General Assembly adopted 51/77 Resolution on the Rights of the Child. It was a landmark development in efforts to improve the protection of children in conflict situations. This signalled the start of a new consensus among Member States, on the need for dedicated attention, advocacy and coordinated effort, by the international community, to address the vulnerabilities and violations faced by children in conflict-related situations.
Resolution 51/77 built on existing General Assembly efforts to protect the rights of children, including through the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol, and the annual Rights of the Child resolutions. And it established the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.
In recent years, the number of violations perpetrated against children have, in many conflict zones, increased. More needs to be done to protect the 250 million children living in countries and areas affected by conflict. More must be done to protect children from targeting by violent extremists, to promote international humanitarian and human rights law, and to ensure accountability for violations of the rights of children.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides us with the universal masterplan to secure a better future for children. The new agenda includes for the first time a specific target (16.2) to end all forms of violence against children, and ending the abuse, neglect and exploitation of children is mainstreamed across several other violence-related targets.
Source: United Nations
Awareness on the rights and welfare of the child is key, and can only be enhanced with inclusion of the children in all processes such as education on their rights and protection from violence and aggression, supporting young people movements to ensure sustainable and continuing nurturing of agents and recovery from the impacts of aggression.