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UN: Appoint Representative on Violence Against Children

More than 1,000 nongovernmental organizations from 134 countries today called on the United Nations General Assembly to establish a Special Representative to the Secretary-General on violence against children.

In New York at 1:30 p.m. today, NGO representatives from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East and North Africa will present the statement and list of endorsing organizations in a special event in Conference Room 1 at the United Nations.

The NGOs called for the high-level post to follow up a comprehensive global UN study on violence against children that was completed last year. The study documented widespread violence against children in the home, schools, care and justice institutions, the workplace and the community. This report was prepared by Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, an independent expert appointed in 2003 by the secretary-general to conduct the study, which was presented to the General Assembly in October 2006.

“Violence is a global epidemic of scandalous proportions, violating every child’s right to a safe and healthy environment,” the NGO statement said. “The study established clearly the urgent need for immediate action to prevent and respond to violence against children in all of its forms.”

The General Assembly established the position of Special Representative to the Secretary-General on children in armed conflict in 1996. Creating the post of a Special Representative on violence against children would address the violence that children suffer in other contexts outside of armed conflict.

The UN study includes a range of recommendations to UN member states to prevent violence against children and take more effective measures to respond to violence. Last year, governments failed to reach agreement on the study’s recommendation to establish a Special Representative to the Secretary-General on violence against children. UN member states are considering it again this year as part of negotiations on the General Assembly’s resolution on the rights of the child.

“Violence is a daily reality for millions of children around the world,” said the NGO statement. “In every part of their lives – their homes and families, schools, institutions, workplaces and communities – children may be beaten, sexually assaulted, tortured and even killed.”

The NGOs called for a special representative working as a high-level global advocate to ensure concrete action to end violence against children and ensure effective follow-up to the study’s recommendations, in cooperation with the UN system, its member states, NGOs, children and youth.

The statement was signed by national and regional NGOs from every region of the world, as well as dozens of international NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, Save the Children, the Global Initiative to End all Corporal Punishment of Children, the Child Rights Information Network, Defense for Children International, ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes), World Organization against Torture, Plan International, and World Vision.

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