In September 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development as a plan of action for all Member States in order to “end poverty in all its forms”, to pursue concretely 17 goals taking bold and transformative steps to “shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path”, ensuring that “no one will be left behind”.
On the contrary to previous exercises such as the “Millennium goals”, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are accompanied by 169 global targets linked with outcomes and means of implementation designed to be embedded into the main targets and ensure social, economic and environmental dimensions necessary to pave the way for genuine sustainable development.
While we never believed as child rights defenders that SDGs will replace other specific human rights accountability instruments such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, we think that SDG framework represents an excellent opportunity to integrate a different/complementary approach to child rights promotion and protection integrated in this effort of Member States to regularly report on progress (in particular through their Voluntary National Reviews, known as VNRs) and their work in progress to reach the objectives by 2030. While some objectives needed more efforts in order to advance and take sufficiently into account children’s rights and involvement, the last 16 months of the pandemic have had an additional negative impact exacerbating existing inequalities and deteriorating the situation of many children living in vulnerable contexts and exposed to violence. It is the case of children deprived of liberty, of indigenous children, of children in the context of migration, girls affected by gender-based violence and harmful practices like female genital mutilation (FGM).
While thousands of children have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic, “building back better” supposes that Member States understand the new challenges and are ready to invest to the future, doubling their efforts and reinforcing holistic protection systems for children’s rights. While the Human Rights Council is in session in Geneva including discussions on the impact of COVID-19 and other health emergencies as well on gender discrimination and FGM… and the High-Level Political Forum is in session in New York measuring progress of SDGs with a long list of countries presenting their VNRs and reviewing specific SDGs including SDG 16 on Justice and SDG 10, this fourth issue of the Child Rights Observer brings news and viewpoints from some very distinguished experts and Child Rights defenders such as Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner from Scotland, or Professor Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director of the Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures at the University of Strathclyde and our close partner on SDG16+ “Justice for Children -Justice for All” initiative and the COVID 4P App initiatives.