“How can we ensure that the DGD is not just a one-day show?”

This was the provocative question that Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, asked the child advisors during a private meeting with them at the DGD.
The children’s answer was as straightforward as the question: “we all have the responsibility to follow-up to the DGD as well as to put in place a mechanism to monitor and assess what will happen after the DGD. The DGD is just a start.

The theme of Children Human Rights Defenders was not just a one-day conference in Geneva during the 2018 Committee on the Rights of the Child Day of General Discussion (DGD), but an ambitious and long-term project of Child Rights Connect. We are seeking to promote a global movement for children human rights defenders. Such a movement will help to catalyse new, and strengthen existing, initiatives to empower and protect children as human rights defenders. It is also playing a vital and pioneering role to connect children human rights defenders across the world, and to many different activities at local, national, regional and international levels.

This page responds to the child advisors’ call for a platform to monitor the follow-up. It showcases direct follow-up activities to the 2018 DGD as well as examples of the different ways in which the global movement for children human rights defenders is growing at different levels and in many different forms. We hope that these impact stories will inspire you to get involved and to learn more about the ways in which children can be protected and empowered as human rights defenders.

Do you have a DGD follow-up story you wish to share with us? Please send it to secretariat@childrightsconnect.org with the subject ‘DGD follow-up’!  

In his next thematic report to the General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders will address the topic of impunity for human rights violations and abuses committed against human rights defenders.

In an effort to keep mainstreaming child rights in the work of the Special Rapporteur, Child Rights Connect and its members, including Child Rights Coalition Asia (CRC Asia) and Defense for Children International (DCI), in cooperation with the Inter-American Children’s Institute (Instituto Interamericano del Niño, la Niña y Adolescentes), the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children and Mikiko Otani (member of the Committee on the Rights of the Child) worked jointly on a submission highlighting some of the main challenges faced by children human rights defenders to combat impunity.

Child Rights Connect hopes the submission will help secure a section on children human rights defenders in the Special Rapporteur’s report, which will be presented to the 74th session of the General Assembly in October 2019.

Read our submission here

May 2019 – Geneva
#HRD #impunity

© ICSW

Last week, 17-year-old Gabriel from Brazil participated in the International Civil Society Week (ICSW) in Belgrade, Serbia, between 6 – 11 April. Invited by the Bridge 47 and CIVICUS and supported by our member the Marist Solidarity Network, Child Rights Connect helped to secure connections between these organisations which led to Gabriel participating in the round-table discussion on data, technology and global structures alongside Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on the status of human rights defenders.

The theme of ICSW 2019 was “The Power of Union,” and it brought together about 700 civil society leaders to build bridges and strengthen processes in the face of major global challenges.

In his speech, Gabriel asked adults representatives of civil society organizations about the language used in the production of data on childhood and youth, “You are here to build bridges, to walk the streets, to climb stairs, but where are you looking at? What language are you using”, in reference to the distances between the action of organizations and the peripheries.

Gabriel also called for organizations to work more closely and with young people, guaranteeing their right to participation. “It’s not technology we need to connect and impact. Our bodies find many other ways to express themselves and gain the attention that should actually be a right […]. Our bodies and our arts scream. Can you see?”, he asked.

Gabriel was a child speaker during the Day of General Discussion (DGD) 2018 on protecting and empowering children as human rights defenders. During a DGD interactive dialogue with Alejandro Cussianovich (academic) and 17-year-old Camila from Chile, Gabriel spoke about children human rights defenders and freedom of speech and violence in schools.

His participation at the ICSW is a follow-up to his empowerment in the DGD and shows a continuing engagement and commitment to defending human rights.

The participation of the young Marist can be watched in Portuguese from the time of 1:18 on the link http://bit.ly/2Z1tS2V (the rest of the dialogue is in English).

April 2019 – Serbia
#ICSW #SRHRD

April 2019 – Scotland
#HRD #CYPCS

Children have so far been almost invisible in the Human Rights Council’s narrative about human rights defenders. The resolutions adopted by the Council and the reports presented by the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders to the Member States have been historically centred on adult defenders. The 40th session of the Council has been a turning point in the history of the recognition of children as human rights defenders as well as an indicator of the positive impact of the 2018 Day of General Discussion of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

During the negotiations around the 2019 resolution “Recognizing the contribution of environmental human rights defenders to the enjoyment of human rights, environmental protection, and sustainable development” at the UN Human Rights Council, Child Rights Connect successfully advocated for the inclusion of children human rights defenders and the recognition of the special protection they require. We called for the acknowledgement of children human rights defenders in the resolution, on an equal footing with other groups and in particular, we influenced the paragraph: “To provide a safe and empowering context for initiatives organized by youth and children to defend human rights relating to the environment”.

Through an oral statement co-signed by 17 civil society organisations we drew the attention of the Member States to the 2018 DGD and called on them and the UN to listen directly to children to ensure their protection and empowerment in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Fiji and Switzerland championed the topic during the informal negotiations, with the support of Argentina, Uruguay, Georgia, Canada and Norway, the latter being the State leading on the resolution.

In response to the adoption of the resolution, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment issued their first joint press release on children human rights defenders, which shows support for the current child-led initiatives around climate change and children’s contributions to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The press release specifically mentions the 2016 Day of General Discussion on children’s rights and the environment and the 2018 Day of General Discussion on protecting and empowering children as human rights defenders.

Children are leading the way with their Fridays For Future protests,” said Renate Winter, Chair of the Child Rights Committee. “We salute their courage and are deeply grateful for their actions, which are desperately needed in today’s political climate of lassitude and decision paralysis,” David Boyd and Michel Forst, the Special Rapporteurs, added.

The impact of our network’s advocacy is also visible in the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders’ latest report on women human rights defenders. The report notes the impact of the 2018 Day of General Discussion and includes a specific section on girls, as the Special Rapporteur committed to do in his closing remarks of the Day. In this particular section, he expresses concerns for girls defenders being forcibly prevented from taking action, being perceived as too young or immature to participate in human rights activism, and lacking access to resources, knowledge and technologies. The resolution, statement and report can be used to raise awareness and understanding of the topic of CHRDs and strengthen advocacy activities on a national level, including with children.

March 2019 – Human Rights Council
#HRC40 #CHRD

As a follow-up to the pre-session and the DGD, Child Rights Connect coordinated with the child rights coalition in Guinea in order to include references to the CRC and the protection of children human rights defenders in Guinea’s draft law on human rights defenders. This was reflected in a paragraph of the CRC Committee’s COBs for Guinea (para. 23), which is attached. We are very happy to have initiated the dialogue between the child rights coalition and the human rights coalition supported by ISHR; it is therefore a good example of connecting the child rights and the human rights constituencies at national level.  

Children human rights defenders were also mentioned in the CRC Committee’s COBs for Bahrain (para. 13.b and para. 24). 

These two mentions show not only the impact of the of 2018 DGD but also of the connection work that Child Rights Connect can conduct through the support of its members across the world.

See article in French on ISHR website.

January 2019 – CRC Sessions
#CRC #Cobs #CHRD

11 child advisors are taking part in a 2019 DGD Children’s Advisory Team and will be empowered throughout this year to play a central role in several DGD follow-up activities and 30th anniversary events!

In 2018, Child Rights Connect set up a global Children’s Advisory Team of 21 children who played a pivotal role in the planning and implementation of the Day of General Discussion on protecting and empowering children as human rights defenders. This year Child Rights Connect continues to support this Team as we move into the follow-up of the DGD and take forward many initiatives in the frame of the 30th anniversary of the CRC. This is to ensure that children can remain central to these activities and can continue to benefit from opportunities to participate at the UN level.

4 of the 2018 child advisors have chosen to become ‘child ambassadors’ and with them, we will develop this role and create a global group of children who are exchanging and engaging on child rights initiatives across our network and beyond. Reflecting on their experiences in the 2018 DGD Children’s Advisory Team, they are keen to provide peer-to-peer support and encouragement to the existing child advisors and other children keen to act as human rights defenders.

Our long-term goal is to institutionalise a Children’s Advisory Team to empower children human rights defenders across all of our work and to continue to build on our efforts to support the safe and meaningful participation of children throughout the network and at all levels.

For more details, please do not hesitate to contact Emma at grindulis@childrightsconnect.org.

January 2019
#CHRD #ChildAdvisors

During a high-level UN event marking the 20th anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in December 2018, children were recognised as human rights defenders and there were calls to afford them additional and stronger support and protection, following our strong joint advocacy efforts with Save the Children and CIVICUS.

Building on the discussions and momentum of the 2018 Day of General Discussion, a joint briefing was developed to call on Member States and panel speakers to put a spotlight on children. Specifically, we campaigned for four key asks around the recognition, empowerment and protection of children human rights defenders. These key asks were based on the strong call made by children human rights defenders during the DGD, that to protect and nurture their ability to defend human rights, they must be empowered with knowledge about their rights, be safe and protected from reprisals, access meaningful and safe spaces to defend theirs and others rights, and for adults to listen to them and recognize their rights to be human rights defenders.

At the meeting, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, recognised children as human rights defenders, after committing to mainstreaming children throughout his mandate during the DGD. Hina Jilani reaffirmed children’s right to participation and association. Children were also mentioned by the delegation of Italy which called on them to be afforded additional support and much stronger protection.

It was the first time that children human rights defenders were explicitly recognised and calls for their protection and empowerment were raised, during a high-level plenary meeting at the General Assembly. It has helped to establish and build allies at all levels in order to raise awareness and understanding that the UN Declaration applies to ALL, and that this includes children!

  • The recording of the event can be found here.

December 2018 – New York
#CHRD #SRHRD #StandUp4HumanRights

This Thursday 13th December, for Human Rights Day celebrations and to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, OHCHR organised a roundtable discussion with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who asked the young human rights defenders “what is your dream for human rights?”. The Deputy High Commissioner Kate Gilmore also attended the event, recognising children as “leaders of today and tomorrow”.

The audience was composed of many children and young people!

Konstantinos, member of our DGD Children’s Advisory Team, delivered an inspiring speech and powerful messages, such as: “It is a great honor to be called a human rights defender. However, with it comes great responsibility. The responsibility of speaking for those in silence, for those who cannot”.

During the event, a video from Nayeli, also part of the DGD Children’s Advisory Team was shown, in which she shared her experience as Children Human Rights Defenders.

Watch the webcast of this great event here!

Two other child advisors, Hannah and Cameron, were involved in a Human Rights Day takeover at the Scottish Parliament on Monday 10th December. Hannah gave a speech about her experiences as a human rights defender and introduced the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, to give a speech to the chamber afterwards. Hannah’s speech is now available here (from about 38 minutes).

Moreover, to celebrate the 70th Anniversary, the Marist International Solidarity Foundation – FMSI shared on Monday 10th the testimonies of Camilla and Gabriel two young Marists who participated in the DGD as speakers and shared their experience as children human rights defenders.

You can find here the two testimonies in Spanish, French, Portuguese and English.

December 2018 – Human Rights Day
#StandUp4HumanRights #ChildAdvisors

The Meeting of the Executive Council of the Inter-American Children’s Institute (IIN-OAS) took place in October 2018 and included a session on children human rights defenders. This was the opportunity for children, including the DGD child advisor from Argentina, to put the DGD topic on the agenda of the 34 States from the Americas who are members of the Executive Council. Children and States engaged in an Intergenerational Dialogue Table which ended with the adoption of a Declaration on “Children and Adolescents as Human Rights Defenders”. It was disseminated at the level of the Americas and the Caribbean and will serve as input for the holding of the III Pan American Forum of Children and Adolescents.

October 2018 – Latin America
#IIN #CHRD