State of the World's Children

While the global security landscape continues to change dramatically, one grim reality does not. “Children still pay the highest price in wartime,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during an open debate about children and armed conflict at the United Nations on 2 August. Ban Ki-moon discussed his latest annual report on Children and Armed Conflict, marking the 20th anniversary of the first report, and the establishment of the office of the UN Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict. He urged all UN member states to make a focused commitment to protecting children: “If you want to protect your image, protect children.”

According to the report, violence against children has increased significantly in many countries. The situation for children is most critical in countries affected by conflict. Since 2009, Afghanistan recorded its highest rate of child casualties; and Somalia recorded a 50% increase of violations from 2014 to 2015. Globally, 250 million children are living in nations affected by conflict, and over 30 million children have been displaced. Ban Ki-moon called on all states to follow their words with concrete action to end the violations and the suffering of children.

If nations are not accelerating the pace of progress in ending the suffering of children, the future of millions of children and their societies will be imperiled. At today’s pace, UNICEF estimates that by 2030 (the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals), 167 million children will live in extreme poverty; some 750 million women will have been married as children; and more than 60 million primary school-age children will be out of school (half will be from sub-Saharan Africa).

Millions of children are being denied their human rights because of their religion, identity, where they are born, or because they have been forced to flee their homes in countries affected by conflict. All nations must accelerate their progress to reach the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and to ensure their rights in order to protect their well-being and provide them with a fair chance in life.

For more information:

Report of the Secretary-General. (2016). Children and armed conflicts, General Assembly Security Council, United Nations, A/70/836. Please go here to download the report.

UNICEF. (2016). The State of the World’s Children 2016: A fair chance for every child, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), New York, USA. Please go here to download the report.

The Sustainable Development Goals: http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/

Anne Bauer