International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression


Child pulls an empty plastic container on a string.
A child plays with a homemade sled made from an empty container and a length of cable, in Roj Camp, northeast Syria, February 2020. Photo: ©UNICEF/UNI310464/Romenzi

On 19 August 1982, at its emergency special session on the question of Palestine, the General Assembly, “appalled at the great number of innocent Palestinian and Lebanese children victims of Israel’s acts of aggression”, decided to commemorate 4 June of each year as the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression.

The purpose of the day is to acknowledge the pain suffered by children throughout the world who are the victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse. This day affirms the UN’s commitment to protect the rights of children. Its work is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most rapidly and widely ratified international human rights treaty in history.

Background

Following on the ground-breaking Graça Machel report, which drew global attention to the devastating impact of armed conflict on children, in 1997 The General Assembly adopted 51/77 Resolution on the Rights of the Child.

It was a landmark development in efforts to improve the protection of children in conflict situations. This signalled the start of a new consensus among Member States, on the need for dedicated attention, advocacy and coordinated effort, by the international community, to address the vulnerabilities and violations faced by children in conflict-related situations.

Resolution 51/77 built on existing General Assembly efforts to protect the rights of children, including through the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol, and the annual Rights of the Child resolutions. And it established the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

In recent years, the number of violations perpetrated against children have, in many conflict zones, increased. More needs to be done to protect the 250 million children living in countries and areas affected by conflict. More must be done to protect children from targeting by violent extremists, to promote international humanitarian and human rights law, and to ensure accountability for violations of the rights of children.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides us with the universal masterplan to secure a better future for children. The new agenda includes for the first time a specific target (16.2) to end all forms of violence against children, and ending the abuse, neglect and exploitation of children is mainstreamed across several other violence-related targets.

Millions of children are caught up in conflicts in which they are not merely bystanders, but targets.”

Graça Machel, Expert of the Secretary-General

In response to a rise in grave violations committed against children, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict launched #ACTtoProtect, a global campaign to generate greater awareness and action to protect children affected by war. During three years the campaign will seek to prevent grave violations committed against children in times of conflict.

Voices from the field

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