"Violence against children" addressed in UN study

[TamilNet, Thursday, 12 October 2006, 09:40 GMT]
A report addressing violence against children in family, schools, alternative care institutions and detention facilities, places where children work, and communities was presented by independent Expert, Prof. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro to the Third Committee of the General Assembly on 11 October 2006 in New York. The study did not address children in armed conflict, as the "issue fell within the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary- General for Children and Armed Conflict," but considered related issues, including violence against refugees and other displaced children.

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The UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs. Mehr Khan Williams, addressing the Committee emphasized that "when children's lives are marked by denial of fundamental rights, in particular, the rights to housing, food and education, they are also often denied dignity and respect. It highlights the equality, indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights and the importance of developing comprehensive, rather than fragmented and reactive approaches."

At the presentation of the UN Secretary General’s Study Report the delegate from Lebanon noted that the report omitted one of the most important sources of violence against children, which violates the most fundamental right of children - the right to life. The report did not consider violence associated with war and armed conflict, particularly that of children living under occupation, for whom even their home is not a place of refuge, the delegate said.

The Egyptian, Palestinian and Sudanese delegates raised similar issues.

Independent expert, Prof Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, who lead the study, responded that there is a Special Representative of the Secretary-General whose mandate is to address issues of the violation of children's rights in situations of armed conflict.

The UN Secretary-General's Special Represenative for Children in Armed Conflict is Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy, a Sri Lankan who assumed her post in June. The previous Special Representative, Olara Otunnu, had focused mainly on the issue of child soldiers.

Childrens "right to life" would be a more politically controversial topic in an organization of states, many of whom may have engaged in warfare without paying particular attention to the Geneva Conventions.

The Special Representative has appointed Ambassdor Allan Rock as Special Advisor and announced that the Ambassador will visit Sri Lanka to assess the situation on the ground. Ambassdor Rock served as the Canadian delegate to the UN from 2004 to June, 2006.

External Links:
UN: Study on Violence Against Children
UN: Children and armed conflict


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