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55th Session of the Human Rights Council: Annual Discussion on the Rights of the Child

55th Session of the Human Rights Council: Annual Discussion on the Rights of the Child

12th March, 2024

N van Beelen

Team UN Geneva Researcher,

Global Human Rights Defence.

On March 14th, representatives from various states convened in the main hall of UN Geneva to discuss the Rights of the Child. This annual event featured two distinct panel discussions, with this article focusing on the first panel’s deliberations concerning the rights of children and inclusive social protection.

The esteemed panelists included Nada Al-Nashif, the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Dr. Anshu Banerjee, the Director for WHO’s Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health & Ageing, Pamela Dale, Regional Advisor, Social Policy and Economic Analysis at UNICEF, Sheyla, a child rights advocate from Peru, and Marie-Reine, a child rights advocate from Togo. Nada Al-Nashif, set the tone by stressing the imperative of including children in these discussions. She urged all states to listen to children’s voices, understand their lived experiences, and consider their recommendations. Furthermore, Al-Nashif highlighted the alarming statistics on how 1.77 billion children worldwide lack access to social protection, underscoring significant regional disparities. She ended her statement by urging states that were not fully compliant with the Convention on the Rights of the Child to look towards other states that have implemented measures to significantly improve these rights. States noted for their positive measures in realizing children’s rights are as follows: Germany and Latvia for their support of Ukrainian children, Argentina’s development of a universal child allowance for children in alternative care and Trinidad and Trabago who granted support to primary and secondary children whose books and uniforms were destroyed by natural disasters.

Sheyla, representing Peru, illuminated the harsh realities faced by Peruvian children, particularly in accessing education, often due to socioeconomic constraints, inadequate parenting, and substance abuse. Therefore, Sheyla urges all states to invest in education, ensuring that not only children are able to attend school, but also that the children receive a “21st century level education”. 

Marie-Reine a child’s right advocate from Togo, also spoke at the Annual Discussion on the Rights of the Child and shed specific light to ensuring that children had adequate health support. She outlines that without this health support children are both subject to diseases and early pregnancies, leaving their ability for developing their education hopeless. Dr. Anshu Banerjee echoed these concerns, highlighting the global shortfall in essential health services, particularly detrimental to children’s development. He supplemented this with a staggering statistic, noting that 4 and a half billion individuals lack full coverage by essential health services, further emphasizing the vulnerability of children in this regard. Furthermore, Marie-Reine commended the initiative that Togo had taken so far by amending a law that protects students against sexual violence in November 2022. However, she stressed the need for robust enforcement of this law.

Following the panelists’ statements, numerous state representatives underscored their commitment to upholding children’s rights and highlighted their active roles in ensuring compliance with international conventions. Among the notable initiatives discussed were the European Union’s European Child Guarantee program, which aims to prevent and combat social exclusion by ensuring children’s basic needs are met (European Child Guarantee, n.d.). South Korea deliberated on its Dream Start initiative, designed to offer tailored, comprehensive services in health, education, and welfare to children from low-income backgrounds. The objective is to empower these children, enabling them to break free from the cycle of poverty and embark on a fresh, equitable journey in life (Dream Start Support Team, n.d.).

In addition to showcasing their achievements, several states drew attention to pressing issues in conflict areas where children urgently require support. The Ukrainian delegate shed light on the challenges faced by children amidst Russia’s aggression, particularly emphasizing the difficulties experienced by children with disabilities. Similarly, the Egyptian delegate called for a ceasefire in Gaza, highlighting the impact of the Israeli occupation on the well-being of children in the region. These calls pressed the urgency of the need for action to safeguard the rights of children in conflict-affected areas.

The session was concluded by the panelists stating their final statements. Dr. Anshu Bannerjee urged all states to ensure “no child is left behind”, especially the most vulnerable ones.


  1. (n.d.) European Child Guarantee Available at: (Accessed: 14 March 2024)

  1. (n.d.) Dream Start Support Team Available at: (Accessed: 14 March 2024)

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