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Leading child-rights organizations call for a second revolution in child rights

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Leading child-rights organizations call for a second revolution in child rights

Thirty years after global leaders adopted the convention on the rights of the child, millions of children lack rights and protections needed to thrive     

Youth advocate for change

NEW YORK — Thirty years after global leaders promised to protect the rights of all children, millions are not in school, face poverty, exploitation, violence, neglect and abuse. A new report, A Second Revolution: 30 years of child rights, and the unfinished agenda, says it is time for the global community to fulfil the broken promises of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (UN CRC).

Produced by the Joining Forces Alliance — an alliance of the six leading child-focused organizations — the report makes the case for a new era of commitment for children. Alliance members assert governments must take bold action to target children who continue to suffer, often the result of discrimination based on gender identity, race, caste, religion, disability or sexual orientation.

“There has been remarkable progress for children since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but we cannot overlook the millions who have been left behind,” said Meg Gardinier, Chair of the Joining Forces CEO Oversight Committee. “It is the most vulnerable children the world overlooks — those facing extreme poverty, the young living in fragile states, refugees and children with disabilities. When it comes to translating commitments into lasting change, we have fallen short and we must do better. This is a moral, legal and economic failure that the world can ill afford.”

Global statistics reflect the challenges that remain. Each year:

  • More than five-million children die from preventable causes, and nearly half of these deaths are attributable to undernutrition;
  • 95,000 children a year — 70 percent of them boys — are murdered, and 15-million adolescent girls report experiencing forced sex; and
  • 64-million children lack access to primary

The report highlights key factors that contribute to the gaps in progress, including a lack of investment in services that are critically important for children. For example, most countries fall well short on spending the five to six percent of GDP to ensure universal coverage of essential healthcare. And foreign aid, which many of the poorest countries rely on, is falling short in critical areas such as health and education.

Another factor is the lack of quality data. Governments tend to rely on data that reflects national averages, making it difficult to identify the needs of specific children and to monitor progress. Disaggregation of data by gender, age, disability and locality, is increasingly important as many rights violations are concentrated amongst disadvantaged groups of children.

The Joining Forces Alliance is calling on governments to embrace and act on all parts of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This must include:

  • Implementing legislation, policies, budgets, and programs that are inclusive of all children;
  • Promoting the rights of all marginalized children and championing gender equality;
  • And supporting children’s meaningful participation and upholding their rights to freedom of expression and opinion.

As a member of ChildFund Alliance, Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) stands behind the report and the call to fulfil the broken promises of the UN CRC.

“Supporting learning through building schools, clean-water sources and health clinics is only part of the solution. Millions of children’s right to an education is violated every day because they’re trapped in child labour, sold and trafficked or forced into early marriage,” said Patrick Canagasingham, CEO of CCFC. “We call on governments to focus on breaking barriers preventing access to inclusive, quality education for all, especially girls. And, to focus on learning opportunities that empower young citizens to stand up for their rights and overcome injustice.”

Giving children a real voice and listening to and heeding their views will be crucial for progress. Children are still widely treated as passive recipients of decisions taken by adults, despite that fact that children’s right to participate is one of the core principles of the UN CRC. Barriers exist at every level of society, from a lack of recognition in law and policy; limited adult capacity to facilitate child participation in meaningful ways; and a lack of access to justice for children needing to challenge violations of their rights.

“Listen to us,” said Lucia, a young person from Spain who was interviewed as part of the report process. “There are many people who think that when you are a child, your opinion will be ridiculous. Or that it doesn’t make sense, or that it isn’t worthy. Even if it’s good. Because as you’re a child, your opinion isn’t worth it.”

Read the full report and recommendations.

‘Joining Forces’ is a collaboration between the six leading NGOs working with and for children under the age of 18 (ChildFund Alliance, Plan International, Save the Children International, SOS Children’s Villages International, Terre des Hommes International Federation, and World Vision International). Joining Forces currently focuses on two work streams: Child Rights Now! of which this report is a part, and Ending Violence Against Children. Visit for more.

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About ChildFund Alliance:

A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.


Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.

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