Every year, the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) writes a report on children’s rights and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to provide inputs from a child rights perspective to the yearly thematic reviews of progress at the forum. The theme of the report for 2021 is Sustainable and Resilient Recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic, which mirrors the theme of this year’s HLPF
The Child Rights Connect Task Force on Child Rights & SDGs together with the UN Human Rights Office have undertaken consultations with children to inform this year’s report and subsequent UN processes on SDGs. Due to the overwhelming evidence collected from and by children, rather than repeating previous research and consultations, the focus laid on empowering children as part of focus groups to gather and submit existing evidence relating to the theme, especially looking at the SDGs under review.
The Task Force helped organize national and regional consultations, which were carried out with children from across the world with the help of local civil society organizations. The children who took part in the consultations were able to share their insights, experiences, challenges and ideas on promoting and safeguarding children’s rights through the SDGs. A total of 449 children, between the ages of 6 and 17 years old, from 25 different countries covering all regions participated in the consultations.
Following the national consultations, Child Rights Connect and the Task Force assisted the UN Human Rights Office in organizing online dialogues with a select group of children who took part in focus group consultations, during which the children were able to communicate the main key takeaways. Two online dialogues were carried out in English and Spanish. 30 children from 15 different countries, aged 10 to 17 years old, were able to participate.
The findings from the national children’s consultations and the online dialogues have not only helped contribute to the drafting of the UN Human Rights Office report, but are also proving invaluable to helping the Task Force’s work on other SDGs-related opportunities: such as the drafting of a joint advocacy paper on children’s rights and SDGs; empowering children to participate at the HRC Annual Day on the Rights of the Child; and future advocacy on the General Assembly resolution on the rights of the child and SDGs to be negotiated in the fall.
Indeed, two of the children who participated at the online dialogues with the UN Human Rights Office were subsequently selected, through a peer-selection process, to be panelist at the Human Rights Council’s Annual Day on the Rights of the Child on March 1st 2021, under the theme “The Rights of the Child and the Sustainable Development Goals”. Many other children participated in the event, which was marked by some ground-breaking and historical child participation! A total of 7 children made interventions as panellists, state and civil society representatives and for the first time ever two street-connected children were able to address the HRC !