NEW YORK/HONG KONG, 20 November 2016 – “Universal Children’s Day is more than a day to celebrate children everywhere. It is an annual opportunity to recommit ourselves to protecting the rights of every child.
“Universal, inalienable rights that the world pledged to protect on this day in 1989, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Rights to dignity and security. To be treated fairly and to live free from oppression. To have a fair chance in life.
“The health and soul of all societies depend not only on how these rights are recognized – and acted upon.
“On this Children’s Day, we must confront the uncomfortable truth that around the world, the rights of millions of children are being violated every day.
“They’re being violated in eastern Aleppo and other besieged areas across Syria, where children are cut off from food, water, and medical care.
“They’re being violated in Yemen, where children are dying because we cannot reach thousands of them with therapeutic foods to treat acute malnutrition – and where cholera now threatens more young lives.
“They’re being violated in northeastern Nigeria, where children – especially girls – are threatened by extremists who take away their very childhoods.
“They’re being violated in South Sudan, where millions of children are facing a severe nutrition crisis and the country faces the prospect of widespread atrocities.
“They’re being violated around the world, in every country, wherever children are the victims of violence, abuse and exploitation.
“Violated wherever they are deprived of an education. Wherever they are denied the chance to make the most of their potential simply because of their race, their religion, their gender, their ethnic group, or because they are living with a disability.
“How will these children learn to respect the rights of others if their own rights are violated? How will they view the world, and their responsibility to it?
“These children are the future leaders of their societies. The future engines of their national economies. The future parents and protectors of the next generation.
“When we protect their rights, we are not only preventing their suffering. We are not only safeguarding their lives. We are protecting our common future.”