Any questions ?

Phone +31 62 72 41006

55th Session of the Human Rights Council: Violence Against Children

Source: © World Vision

55th Session of the Human Rights Council: Violence Against Children


Haneen Alawawdeh

Team UN Geneva Researcher,

Global Human Rights Defence.

The 55th session of the Human Rights Council convened an interactive dialogue with Najat Maalla M’jid, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children, leading an interactive dialogue. Maalla M’jid voiced grave concerns about the extensive suffering endured by children globally, attributing it to a myriad of crises including conflicts, poverty, food insecurity, inequalities, and the looming climate crisis. Specifically, she highlighted the plight of children on the move, emphasising their vulnerability in the face of forced displacement, which has reached an unprecedented scale with over 43 million children affected globally [1]. These children are exposed to heightened risks of violence and exploitation, ranging from sexual exploitation to trafficking and forced labour. Despite some progress, existing measures fall short, with humanitarian and protection systems stretched thin. Maalla M’jid underscored various challenges including legal and administrative barriers, discrimination, and insufficient coordination among relevant authorities. She advocated for bolstering national and local protection systems accessible to all children on the move, prioritising their well-being and dignity. Additionally, she stressed the importance of early detection, referral, and care for vulnerable children, while vehemently condemning the separation and detention of children based on migration status. Maalla M’jid urged a shift from a continuum of violence to a continuum of care and protection for these children, emphasising the urgent need for concerted efforts to safeguard their rights and well-being.


The discourse surrounding the situation of Palestinian children, especially within the context of the ongoing Israeli conflict, emerged as a focal point during the session. The Palestinian delegate outlined the critical situation faced by the youth, especially in Gaza, where violence has resulted in a high number of casualties, injuries, and arrests among children. This scenario has deeply traumatic consequences for the affected children and has sparked a call to action for international intervention to bring an end to these hostilities. The discourse spotlighted the need for immediate suspension of assaults in Gaza and the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid.


Delegates from across the Arab world, including Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, and Iraq, shared their perspectives, aligning with the call to action for ending the suffering of Palestinian children. Qatar, speaking for the Arab Group, urged the release of abducted children and called for probes into rights violations. In addressing the session, Qatar emphasised the dire conditions in Gaza, where over 30,000 affected children are enduring severe hardship, including 12,000 minors. Additionally, in the West Bank, the situation has reached a point where there have been over 100 fatalities among the youth [2].  Kuwait emphasised understanding the situation in Gaza and cessation of armed conflicts globally to ensure the well-being of all children.

Iran, Pakistan Jordan, Tunisia, Egypt, and Iraq expressed unwavering support for the welfare and rights of Palestinian children. Further, they championed the role of group efforts aimed at terminating the violence against them, with Iraq emphasising the significance of repatriating detained children, invoking humanitarian principles.


On the other hand, the Ukrainian representative voiced grave concern for the millions of children affected by the conflict with Russia, citing over 579 deaths and significant trauma since February 2022. An urgent appeal was made to protect the children and confront the issue of over 19,000 Ukrainian minors being transferred to Russia with Belarusian support [3]. Additionally, Ukraine alleges Belarusian involvement in the transfer, heightening apprehensions about child welfare and accountability in humanitarian crises. Conversely, Belarus has emphasised its commitment to child protection efforts, including those from Ukraine. These divergent viewpoints underscore the complexity of the situation and highlight the need for further investigation and dialogue to address the issue effectively.


Furthermore, France unequivocally condemned Russia’s unlawful transfer of Ukrainian children, committing to protecting refugees and spearheading initiatives aimed at shielding female refugees. The United Kingdom stressed the significance of holding perpetrators accountable for the forced deportation of Ukrainian minors and safeguarding their identities.


The EU delegates emphasised the urgent need for heightened measures to protect children in the midst of crises, highlighting the concerning surge in violence against young people amidst the pandemic and extreme poverty. Bulgaria fervently advocated for the establishment of protective frameworks and the provision of essential services specifically tailored to children affected by the Ukrainian conflict. Portugal illuminated the adverse consequences of displacement on Ukrainian children, urging concerted global action to prevent violence against youth. Conversely, Romania raised critical questions about the feasibility of achieving the cessation of all forms of violence against children by 2030, stressing the importance of setting realistic goals.


The session delved into a comprehensive discussion on global child protection strategies, addressing various concerns and proposals from participating countries and organisations. Costa Rica brought attention to the plight of migrating children, particularly within the realm of travel and tourism, emphasising the necessity for ensuring their safety amidst increasing numbers. 


South Africa proposed investment in integrated services aimed at bolstering child protection frameworks and mitigating vulnerabilities exacerbated by crises and systemic issues. 


Brazil and China advocated for the implementation of comprehensive strategies to combat violence against children, stressing the importance of national action plans and inclusive policies. They specifically highlighted the urgency of addressing issues such as sexual violence and safeguarding the rights of migrant children. The perspectives from Indonesia and Mauritius accentuate the importance of aligning humanitarian aid with legal and mental health services, hinting at a broader deficiency in the international aid system where children’s specific needs in displacement settings are often marginalised.

The United States’ goal-oriented approach to eradicating violence against children by 2030 with Russia’s more cautious perspective on integrating climate change considerations into child-sensitive policies exposes a tension between ambitious international commitments and the pragmatic recognition of diverse state policies and capabilities.


During the session, prominent non-governmental organizations including Pratyak, Edmund Rice International, and Nina Smyne underscored the concerning rise in reported cases of child abuse in India. They urged the government to take prompt and resolute action in reply. Emphasising the critical need for survivor support services, substantial financial allocations for violence prevention, and strengthened law enforcement and social services, these organisations highlighted the essential pillars for effective intervention and mitigation of such abuses. Furthermore, BICE acknowledged commendable initiatives aimed at addressing violence against children in Côte d’Ivoire. However, they emphasised the urgent necessity of combatting sexual violence within diverse societal contexts. Vivat International recognised Ghana’s commendable efforts in combatting child abuse, yet flagged challenges in translating these efforts into practical outcomes, indicating the complexities inherent in effectively addressing such issues on the ground.


Ms. Maalla M’jid responded to inquiries and comments, delivered a multifaceted response, tackling pressing issues with a sense of urgency and a call for collective effort. She shed light on the distressing global crisis of child displacement, particularly in Gaza, emphasising the need for humanitarian aid, peace, and justice. Stressing the importance of international collaboration, she urged for a ceasefire in Gaza. Transitioning to the digital landscape, she advocates for stricter regulation of the ICT sector to prioritise child safety while respecting privacy rights. Ms. Maalla M’jid also highlighted the significance of empowering children in decision-making processes and addressing gender-based violence.


In conclusion, Madam Maalla M’jid raises the question of why decision-makers are not taking sufficient action despite numerous commitments and calls for prioritising the protection of children, who are not just the future but also the present. She calls for comprehensive services involving local governmental ministries and advocates for accountability under international law. Recognising children as agents of change, she urges proactive measures and unwavering commitment to human rights. Overall, the session provided a platform for in-depth analysis and constructive dialogue aimed at advancing global child protection efforts.


[1] UNICEF. (2023, June 13). Number of displaced children reaches new high of 43 million [Press release]. UNICEF. <> Accessed March 20th, 2024.


[2] United Nations. (2023). Security Council Extends Mandate of United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei [Press release]. United Nations. <> Accessed March 20th, 2024. 

[3] Al Jazeera. (2023, November 17). Belarus linked to forcible transfer of Ukrainian children: Study. Al Jazeera. <> Accessed March 20th, 2024.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *