News

19th June – Global Knit-in to support newborn and maternal health

  

On June 19, 2014 Geneva was part of a Global Knit-in event that aimed to raise awareness about the 1 million newborns that die on the first – and only - day of life. These events were organized by Save the Children and partners in different cities around the world, including Oslo, London, Kabul and Islamabad.

The Geneva event was attended by missions, WHO, UNICEF, NGOs, students, midwives and knitting clubs. Participants were asked to knit squares as a symbol of our most common thread: we were all fragile newborns, and women took risks to bring us into the world.

  

Anita Bay Bundegaard, our Office Director, and Chantal Baumgarten, Advocacy Advisor for Child Survival and Health, briefed participants about how Save the Children is campaigning on newborn health in order to accelerate progress on reducing child mortality. Save the Children together with partners advocated for the adoption by 194 countries of the Every Newborn Action Plan during the World Health Assembly. This marked a major milestone in securing support and commitments by Governments to end all preventable newborn deaths and achieve universal coverage of key services. We are now calling for all Governments to commit to deliver on the Every Newborn action plan.  

The individual squares were stitched together to form a baby blanket, which will be presented in South Africa at the PMNCH partners forum (Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health), along with all the other blankets from around the world to form a large ‘blanket of hope’ in honour of all mothers and newborns. This blanket will be brought to other major political events and health conferences to urge leaders to make progress on saving the lives of mothers and newborns.

See more on Knitting to Save Newborn Lives: http://www.everynewborn.org/knitting-save-newborn-lives/

Wed 21 May 2014 - 67th World Health Assembly (WHA) Side event:

"Improving Maternal and Newborh Health: the importance of working with communities"

 

Co-hosted by the Permanent Missions of Canada and Cameroon with support from

Save the Children, World Vision, PATH, PMNCH, and the Permanent Mission of the United States

On Wednesday 21 May 2014, at the Permanent Mission of Canada in Geneva, more than 50 attendees of the 67th World Health Assembly (WHA) met to discuss the importance of working with communities to improve maternal and newborn health. This discussion was part of a series of events at the WHA linked to the Every Newborn Action Plan.

Dr. Elizabeth Mason, Director of the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health at WHO chaired the Panel during which powerful messages and remarkable evidence of best practicesreiterated the ‘exciting momentum’ around newborn survival and the Every Newborn Action Plan.

The Ministers of Health of Afghanistan, Cameroon, Canada and Joint Secretary from the Ministry of Health, India gave presentations during the Panel discussions and called on Member States to endorse the Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP).

Elissa Golberg, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations, opened the event by stating that the ENAP identifies practical and achievable solutions that we can all take immediately - such as enabling the essential role of communities, promoting the voices of families, which should be supported by health workers and by community leaders. 

Honorable André Mama Founda, Minister of Public Health of Cameroon stated that his country was championing the Every Newborn action plan at this year’s World Health Assembly. He explained that once adopted, countries would review their national policies, programs and plans to integrate newborn health into them.

Participants recognized that efforts are making a difference - child mortality rates are declining, nutrition is improving, the rates of disease are decreasing and increasingly better health care is available. Big challenges still persist, however. India is losing about 1.4 million children under 5 years of age every year mainly due to premature births, sepsis and asphyxia. In Uganda, 106 babies die daily due to preventable illnesses. In most cases parents do not know what caused their child's death. In all of Liberia there are less than 500 midwives and many women at 36-38 weeks gestation have to walk up to 12 hours to get to have access to a qualified and trained health worker. In Afghanistan there are still huge disparities between provinces, with 15 out of 34 provinces accounting for more than 70% of maternal and newborn deaths in the whole country.

However, tremendous improvements have been made. DrRakesh Kumar Joint Secretary (Reproductive & Child Health Programme), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India explained that India is fully committed to accelerating progress on material newborn and child health including a comprehensive package of interventions through the RMNCH+A strategy. He went on to give the example of the 9 million ASHAs (community health workers) in India who are incentivized to improve home-based newborn care and to ensure skilled attendance at birth.

Suraya Dalil, Minister of Public Health of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, reported that in her country twelve years ago one in every 4 children was dying before the age of 5. Today, that number has dropped to 1 in every 10. This huge progress has been made possible thanks to a nationwide basic package of health services including vaccinations, antenatal care, nutrition, family planning and advancements in training community based midwives and deploying skilled birth attendants (SBA) into remote areas. Furthermore, a few months ago a national Reproductive Maternal Newborn Child Health (RMNCH) plan of action was endorsed.

Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez, Assistant Administrator for Global Health at USAID explained that USAID has been a long time champion of community work – “it’s in the DNA of the agency”. He highlighted that behavior and behavior change communication (BCC) are ‘paramount’. Equally important are changing social norms for improved sustainability.

Kath Evans, NHS (National Health Service) United Kingdom and Save the Children campaigner stressed the need to value midwives, who are often working around the clock under very difficult conditions. She spoke of her trip to Liberia with Save the Children to understand the health realities for midwives there, where there is often one midwife running a health center which is expected to function 24/7.

Davinah Agnes Nabirye, Communications Campaign Officer, World Vision Uganda explained how communities are identifying problems and seeking solutions. A civil society coalition lobbied members of parliament in Uganda to ensure more money was allocated to the health budget for increased allocation of doctors and midwives. “World Vision was nowhere to be seen” she said. It was the community holding the government accountable, and finally more money was allocated.

A large quilt was presented as part of World Vision Uganda’s Child Health Now Campaign made of witness-cards written by mothers and fathers who have lost their children to preventable causes. These cards show just a few of the names and stories that are often forgotten behind the statistics.

Finally, the Honorable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Health of Canada, reaffirmed that Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) is the number one development priority for Canada. She highlighted the areas in which further investment and policy change will accelerate progress. Just days before the Toronto summit on ‘Saving Every Woman, Every Child within arm’s reach’ hosted by Prime Minister Harper, she announced a financial commitment of $36million for innovations on maternal, newborn and child health in 9 Sub-Saharan African countries. This investment is expected to optimize delivery of existing interventions by addressing common bottlenecks and prompting groundbreaking community innovations in the field of child and maternal health. 

 

14 May 2014 – Launch of the new Save the Children and Norwegian Refugee Council report "Hear it from the Children: Why Education in Emergencies is Critical"

Worldwide, 50 million children affected by armed conflict are being denied the opportunity to go to school. During armed fighting, children and young people are exposed to serious violations. Risks include being recruited into armed groups, suffering severe forms of violence, including sexual violence, early marriage, as well as being deprived of a childhood.

A new report by Save the Children and the Norwegian Refugee Council “Hear it from the Children: Why Education in Emergencies is Critical” demonstrates that education in emergencies is essential and must be fully integrated into the immediate and longer-term humanitarian responses to emergencies. The report presents the voices of over 250 children, parents, teachers and community representatives who were severely affected by conflict and who are living in Masisi, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), or who sought shelter in Dollo Ado camp, Ethiopia. Their message is clear: education is a number one priority. The study is based on education in emergencies projects financed under the EU Children of Peace initiative, the lasting legacy of the European Union's Nobel Peace Prize.

The report was launched on 14th May in Geneva at a panel discussion hosted by the Permanent Delegation of the EU in collaboration with: Save the Children, the Norwegian Refugee Council, UNICEF, the Global Education Cluster and the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE). The discussion was moderated by H.E. Mariangela Zappia, Ambassador, Head of the Permanent Delegation of the EU to the UN in Geneva and was attended by around 90 participants from the humanitarian community, including 23 representatives of missions[1], UN and international agencies[2] and civil society.

In his opening remarks,Claus Sørensen The Director-General of the European Union DG Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) highlighted that “education is as important as nutrition”. Education helps transform and save lives of children living in conflict-affected countries. Claus Sørensen stressed that the European Union is working to break the silo approach and ensure there is a link and continuity between humanitarian and development actors, particularly in the education sector. Accountability is also key. Agencies have become more and more accountable to donors, but are not making sure they deliver the right programmes to affected populations. Claus Sørensen reminded humanitarian agencies that they need to consult affected populations first and not rush in.

The report gives a voice to affected populations and shows that education is their number one priority, not only for teachers, but also for children, their parents and community leaders. Why? Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council presented the report and explained that education is a number one priority for children, their parents and community leaders “because education gives hope”. “We will never reach the 2nd Millenium Development Goal unless we do better for education in emergencies”, warned Jan Egeland. He presented some of the key findings of the report:

  • Education protects from violence, sexual abuse and force recruitment.
  • Education builds resilience and improves livelihoods.
  • Education transforms communities.

Jan Egeland called on donors, world leaders and policy-makers to cover the funding gap by increasing the current levels of humanitarian funding to education and progressively work towards reaching a minimum of 4%, to listen to communities affected by conflict and ensure education is included from the outset of an emergency, adopt measures to ensure education is protected from attack, including by implementing the Draft Lucens Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use During Armed Conflict.

Ted Chaiban, Director of UNICEF Emergency Programmes, highlighted the need for equitable access to a quality education in emergencies, as it provides stability, protects children, builds resilience and contributes to peace building of communities. He reminded the audience that two current major humanitarian crises are having a devastative impact on education; Syria and the Central African Republic. In Syria, schools are either occupied by IDPs or armed groups, or too damaged. More than 3 million Syrian children are now out of school. UNICEF, through the “No Lost Generation campaign”, tries to bring children back to school and provide psychosocial support. The education system has broken down in Central African Republic, with only 1/3 of schools still functioning and 2/3 of children out of school. There is also a high risk of losing a generation. “We can’t only focus on life saving activities, or we’ll end up with children who have survived but don’t see a future for themselves”, highlighted Ted Chaiban. “We must put education at the center of all humanitarian responses”. But funding for education in emergencies has dropped from 2.4% in 2012 to only 1,9% in 2013. Other humanitarian sectors appeals are funded at 60% but education appeals get less than 40%. Ted Chaiban called for an increase in humanitarian funding for education, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) replenishment conference in Brussels in June is a first step. He also called on all stakeholders to make sure education is considered as a first priority at the conference on South Sudan in Oslo.

The report demonstrates the education must be provided as part of the first phase of a humanitarian response. “In an early stage of a response, shelter, food and healthcare save lives, but education protects lives”, highlighted Michael von Bertele, Save the Children International Humanitarian Director. He once asked a colleague psychiatrist how to help children living in conflict-affected country recover from the trauma, “Get them back to school and normalize their life, and they’ll get better” was his answer. Michael von Bertele reminded that if humanitarians are serious about being accountable to affected populations and children, they must listen to them and the communities’ priorities must inform the response planning. Education must be part of the response planning from the onset of an emergency.

Margarita Focas Licht, Regional Team Lead for Eastern and Southern Africa for the Global Partnership for Education, presented the role of the GPE, the only multilateral partnership for education, helping developing country partners develop and implement strong education sector plan. Damages to education should be significantly reduced when emergency strikes through effective planning. GPE is seeking to play a facilitating role in bridging the gap between humanitarian and development decision-making and financing. But GPE is purposed to encourage funding and to leverage additional resources for education in emergencies, not to fill the funding gap. The GPE replenishment campaign strongly supports the Education Cannot Wait Call to Action, calling on governments to increase the funding allocations to education in emergencies to reach the 4% target.

H.E. Mariangela Zappia summarized the key messages: education brings hope, but education needs better investment and should be put at the centre of humanitarian responses.




[1] Permanent Missions: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, EU, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, United States and ECHO

[2] OCHA, OHCHR, FAO, IFRC, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNICEF and WHO

 

5 May 2014 - Advancing child rights through the Universal Periodic Review UN mechanism

Too often, child rights issues are considered too specific or soft issues, and are forced to take the back seat in favour of other priorities and concerns. Ways to further advance children’s rights were discussed during an event on Monday 5th May at the United Nations, organised by Save the Children, together with the Permanent Missions of Slovenia, Portugal and Uruguay, as well as UNICEF, Child Rights Connect, Child Rights Information Network, Plan International, the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment Against Children and World Vision International.

Save the Children launched its new publication on “the Universal Periodic Review: Successful examples of child rights advocacy” which features 8 case studies of civil society engagement in child rights UPR advocacy. It provided a platform for discussion on good practices and lessons learned and to reflect on practical ways to strengthen the UPR as a tool for advancing children’s rights and children’s participation in decision-making processes.

The Universal Periodic Review

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a State-led peer-to-peer review system under the auspices of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Since its inception in 2008, the UPR provides a way for all United Nations Member States to review each other’s human rights records, make recommendations for the way forward and follow-up on promises made during the previous sessions. The UPR operates in four-and-a-half-year cycles, and its 100 percent participation rate is unparalleled. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) play a key role in this process and use the peer-pressure of the UPR as an instrument to reinforce national and local advocacy efforts for children’s rights.

Children’s Rights in the Universal Periodic Review

Lene Steffen, the Director of the Child Rights Governance Global Initiative of Save the Children, who presented the new publication, said that “the UPR was an excellent tool for pushing child rights onto the political agenda of States,” giving concrete examples where the UPR has been instrumental to achieving legal and policy reforms that had been pending for years.

Child rights advocacy through the UPR can be very effective when reinforced at different levels and through different accountability mechanisms. It can lead to an increase in child child-centred policies and legislation, a strengthened quality of interaction between child rights actors, including children themselves, and increased space for dialogue between civil society and national authorities.

Event shares best practices

Representatives from child-led groups in Albania, supported by Save the Children and Wold Vision, opened the discussion (via video message) with a recount of their engagement in the UPR of Albania, involving communication and advocacy activities at local, national, and international level, which have successfully influenced the outcome of the UPR of Albania.

The Ambassador of Slovenia H.E. Mr Vojislav Suc shared the country’s extensive efforts to ensure child participation in Slovenia, including through round table discussions with children and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the National Children’s Parliament. These platforms have helped feed the voices of children in policy discussions, including in the national report for the UPR of Slovenia.

“Children have insights adults may not pick up on” noted Jennifer Philpot-Nissen from World Vision, pointing to the importance of such collaboration.

The panel also discussed the complementarity between the UPR and the CRC reporting process as well some of the challenges with the UPR mechanism. They noted that more needs to be done to make sure that States follow-up and implement the recommendations they receive during their UPR review. Many attendees expressed their appreciation for the event as a forum to discuss these challenges, in order to make full use of the UPR as a tool to bring change for children.

 A full report of the event can be found here.

24 March 2014 – Why mainstreaming the Rights of Children on the Move in migration and development debates matters?

Nowadays, population movements have become a large-scale and complex phenomenon and the number of children who are ‘on the move’ is growing dramatically. Despite a clear legal framework obliging states to respect and ensure the rights of all children, children on the move face numerous systematic violations of their rights in countries of origin, transit and destination.

All efforts should converge towards putting the rights of children on the move at the centre of policy and dialogue on migration, development and protection, with the best interest of the child as a paramount consideration: this was the core message that came out of the panel discussion at the side event hosted on Monday 24 March, by Save the Children, Terre des Hommes International Federation, in collaboration with the Permanent Missions of Italy and Mexico and the Inter-Agency Group on Children on the Move.

 

The side-event held in parallel to the International Dialogue on Migration generated vigorous discussion on how to mainstream the rights of children on the move in relevant policy frameworks, including the post 2015 agenda and the Global Forum on Migration and Development.

The speakers included the Deputy Permanent Representatives of the Missions of Mexico and Italy, the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as several experts from IOM, UNHCR, Swiss Federal department of foreign affairs and Save the Children.

The Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Flavia Pansieri, reminded that migrant children remain children, and that migrant are not commodities and protecting and fulfilling their rights is not a matter of charity.  

The Minister Counsellor of the Mission of Italy, Amedeo Trambajolo, stated that the issue of children on move is a key priority for the Italian EU presidency. Some key priority actions will include promoting common and coherent migration policies at EU and international level and developing good practices for cooperation in terms of reception and age assessment procedures.

The Mexican Deputy AmbassadorRaùl Heredia Acosta, highlighted that given the geographical situation of Mexico, migration is a very important issue and needs a comprehensive and multi-stakeholder approach. The government of Mexico has developed regional guidelines for unaccompanied children as well as an operational manual to train child protection officers on the protection of unaccompanied children. This model has been recognised and is being developed in others countries.

Shabarinath Nair, from the Global Programme Migration and Development of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, made a strong call for the inclusion of migration into the post 2015 discussions and referred to the Technical Working Group on Migration as a key stakeholder that could support this process.

Ana Fonseca, Senior Migration Specialist at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that despite the effort of ensuring the voices of children on the move inform and feed international debates, children testimonies are still absent. She highlighted the need to translate international principles into operational guidelines between countries for them to act quickly and effectively.

Monika Sandvik-Nylund, Senior Advisor at the UNHCR added the importance to adapt our procedure for a child friendly use if you want to have access to their testimonies. When children are given time to articulate, it usually goes beyond the obvious reason why they left their country.

Daniela Reale from Save the Children and Chair of the Interagency Group on children on the move highlighted the need to strengthen national child protection systems and foster educational, training and employment opportunities for children and adolescents in countries of origin, transit and destination. As a migrant child told her “children’ rights are perfect on paper but what we need is practice and action.

More on the Background Paper

Children on the move is a subtheme within the Children without Appropriate Care Child Protection priority area. Read Save the Children´s Child Protection Strategy 2013-2015

 

 

15 November 2013 – Every Newborn event: Presentation of the Action Plan to end Preventable Deaths

In the past two decades, impressive progress in the survival of mothers and children under-five has been reached and has led to a global reduction in the child mortality rate. But looking closely at the picture, it appears that newborn deaths now account for 44% of all under-five child deaths and that prematurity is the leading cause of those.

Reduction of preventable newborn deaths should be the focus of efforts in advancing progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, and in order to provide everyone with a roadmap and joint action platform, an Every Newborn action plan is currently under development by a wide range of government, UN, and civil society partners. The plan will be presented at the Executive Board of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in January 2014, and launched in May 2014 during the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva.

 On 15 November, linking up with UN World Prematurity Day, South Africa and the United Kingdom, together with UNICEF, WHO, PMNCH, UNFPA and Save The Children co-hosted an event to discuss the actions needed by all stakeholders to prevent and care for babies born too soon. It also provided an overview of the Every Newborn action plan for missions and other stakeholders in Geneva.

 

Elisabeth Mason from the WHO presented the key elements of the plan and pointed out that each year fifteen million babies are born premature - 1 of 10 children - and that prematurity is the direct cause of 35 % of all newborn deaths, making it the leading cause of newborn deaths.

Simple low-cost interventions such as kangaroo mother care   and antenatal corticosteroids can make a difference in saving preterm babies.

Win Zeyar Tun from the Permanent Mission of Myanmar in Geneva presented the situation in his country, where good progress has been seen in reducing child mortality and the MDGs could certainly be reached if more was done. This can be achieved by understanding the causes of neonatal deaths, securing political commitments and having effective coordination through a national plan of action. Their major input to reduce newborn mortality will be through investments in human resources and capacity building.

The United Kingdom Department for International Development representative (DFID), Gillian Mann, stressed that the UK is still committed to saving 250’000 newborns lives before 2015 , but that this will only be possible by investing in the continuum of care - from pre-pregnancy to postnatal care. The Every Newborn action plan makes things clear:  skilled birth attendants, partnerships, well-functioning health and reporting systems and addressing inequities are key to reducing newborn mortality.

Marlena Viviani from UNICEF also mentioned inequities as an important factor to tackle newborn mortality. "If we miss the 20% of the most vulnerable children, we miss critically a lot of children in need and following a UNICEF research we understand that investing in the hardest to reach children, even if more expensive, will have a strong impact on the 80% easier to reach".

UNFPAcan help countries to address the issue added Luc de Bernis from the organization but it is the government’s role to send out skilled midwives in the poorest areas. He also said that the three strategies designed to reduce maternal and newborn mortality and disability are Family Planning, access to competent health professionals, midwives in particular, and emergency obstetric and neonatal care, with the need to monitor, using in particular the per-partum and immediate neonatal care mortality rate.

To wrap up the discussion, Anita Bay Bundegaard from Save the Children presented the new Save the Children report “Lives on the Line” which addresses some of the key themes of the discussion such as equity and investment in health workers. She went on to highlight that leadership and partnership by and with major UN organisations and through them Member States, are key to the success of the Every Newborn action plan.

Elisabeth Mason from WHO encouraged all countries to make strong vocal statements on the Every Newborn action plan during the WHO Executive Board and the WHA next year. Marlena Viviani from UNICEF added that this is a call for commitments and action by all stakeholders to address newborn health. 

For more information: http://www.everynewborn.org

 

 

1st October 2013 - Our Geneva Advocacy office becomes part of Save the Children International

To commemorate our transition to Save the Children international, the advocacy team ventured out to St. Georges Cemetery in Geneva to visit the grave of Eglantyne Jebb, the founder of Save the Children. It's in Geneva that she drafted a declaration of children’s rights, which has since evolved into the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Geneva advocacy team

Geneva: An inspiration for our founder, Eglantyne Jebb - By Chantal Baumgarten

As we transition our office to become part of Save the Children International, we also recall the long-lasting history of our presence in Geneva, which dates back to 1920 when Eglantyne Jebb first founded the International Save the Children Union here. 

Eglantyne loved Geneva. Even back then, it was a center for internationalism and humanitarian work, which were close to Eglantyne’s heart. She was also enchanted by the landscape and the beauty of the surroundings, most notably the mountains, to which she often escaped to contemplate about how to achieve lasting change for children.   

Fittingly, it was while strolling on a mountain overlooking Geneva that Eglantyne first drafted a declaration of children’s rights, which has since evolved into the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; a document that has forever changed the way the world regards and treats children.

The setting in Geneva was therefore a constant inspiration for Eglantyne, and it is in this very same spirit – some 93 years later – that we continue the work of Save the Children here. 

Advocacy has always been at the core of what we do as an organization, and it comes of no big surprise therefore, that our founder was herself an outstanding advocate. Eglantyne had a special ability to immediately win over to her side anyone who spoke with her. One anecdote recalls that it took only a short conversation over three tram stops to convince of her cause, a future president of Save the Children.  

Eglantyne first came to Geneva in 1919 to plea for support in her effort to save children’s lives in the aftermath of World War I. She had herself witnessed the horrific effects of war on the lives of children during the Second Balkan War.

Interestingly enough, Eglantyne was not really fond of children; they tired her and she didn’t like to be around them. It was rather her concern for the universal welfare of children that drove her into action.

“Surely it is impossible for us, as normal human beings, to watch children starve to death without making an effort to save them” –Eglantyne Jebb, May 1919

Her ambition was always to set up an international bureau in order to expand the reach and impact of the organization. She came to Geneva to seek the support of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC), who were central to the relief effort after the First World War.

Using her captivating personality, strong ambition and vision, she succeeded to convince the President of the ICRC, Gustave Ador[1], and several others, to support the founding of the International Save the Children Union (ISCU). A long-standing relationship between Save the Children and the ICRC ensued.  

The International Save the Children Union did not have any of its own operations, but rather focused on launching awareness campaigns to collect funds, which were then channeled through the ICRC who made sure the appropriate aid was delivered to children.[2] The ISCU was therefore in a sense an extension and enhancement of the ICRC, allowing them to go beyond their work with prisoners of war and refugees, to deliver aid specifically for children.   

The international bureau of Save the Children was officially inaugurated in Geneva on 6 January, 1920[3] in the Palais d’Athénées. Even today, the creation of Save the Children is commemorated by an inscription over a door frame in the Grand Salon[4].

Furthermore, if you walk up the stairs to the ICRC in Geneva today, you will find a memorial for Eglantyne Jebb in a little park overlooking the United Nations. The memorial was unveiled in 1976 in honor of the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Eglantyne, and to commemorate the long-lasting collaboration between the ICRC and Save the Children.[5]

While in Geneva, Eglantyne stayed in the Old Town on Rue Jean-Calvin with her friend Suzanne Ferrière, the niece of a Swiss Red Cross doctor. Eglantyne was even invited to preach from Calvin’s famous pulpit in Geneva’s St Peter’s Cathedral, just a few steps away from the flat she was staying in.

Thanks to Eglantyne’s persistence and effective advocacy, the newly formed League of Nations endorsed her Declaration of the Rights of the Child[6] in 1924. This would later lead to the adoption by the United Nations of an expanded version of the Declaration, and in 1989 the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC).

Taking on what Eglantyne had initiated decades earlier; Save the Children was at the forefront of negotiating the UN CRC in Geneva, which has been ratified by all but two countries in the world, making it the most widely ratified human rights treaty. Still today, a core activity of our Geneva office is to ensure effective monitoring and implementation of the Convention.

For the last 8 years of her life, Eglantyne regularly travelled between the UK and Switzerland. The work of the organization expanded exponentially very quickly. Within 5 years of its launch, forty national committees affiliated to the International Union. She also moved the organization beyond providing emergency relief, to also look at longer term development and research. “The great point to realize is that relief alone cannot save the children. If we really want to save them we must add to our work of relief other activities”, she was quoted saying.

Eglantyne’s health quickly deteriorated in 1927 due an existing thyroid condition. She died in Geneva on 17 December 1928, at the age of 52. She had asked repeatedly to be buried under a plain cross on Mount Salève, the mountain which had so inspired her just a few years earlier in the drafting of the child rights declaration. While her wish could unfortunately not be fulfilled, her tombstone is located in a beautiful setting near her beloved Mount Salève.

Save the Children continues to have a strong presence in Geneva and Eglantyne Jebb in particular, left an indelible mark on this international city.

 

 

History of Save the Children in Geneva


[1] Gustave Ador went on to sit on the newly formed ISCU board.

[2] This would change just a few years later during the relief effort for the famine in Russia, when the British Save the Children Fund set up its own relief programmes inside the country.

[3] Just four days later, on 10 January, 1920, the League of Nations office was founded in Geneva.

[4] The Red Cross was founded in the very same room 57 years earlier, in 1863.

[5] The inscription on the memorial reads: “Eglantyne Jebb 25.8.1876 – 17.12.1928, founder in 1920 with the patronage of the ICRC of the International Union for Child Welfare, initiator of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child”. Note: The International Save the Children Union was merged with another association in 1946 to form the International Union for Child Welfare (IUCW).

[6] The Declaration is also known as the “Geneva Declaration“.

 

 

10th September 2013 – Child Mortality: A Human Rights Concern

It is absolutely possible to eliminate preventable under-five mortality if the international community recognise this burden as a Human Rights concern such was the essential of the side-event on child mortality ahead of the Human Rights Council sessions.

In 2011, 6.9 million children under the age of five died from causes and conditions, which are for the most part avoidable deaths. More than two thirds of cases of mortality among children under 5 are due to diseases such as Malaria, Pneumonia or infections that are preventable and treatable through simple, affordable interventions.

In March 2013, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the Rights of the child: the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health. This resolution invited the World Health Organization (WHO) to prepare a study report on mortality of children under 5 years of age.

The side-event organized by the Permanent Missions of Austria, Botswana, Ireland, Mongolia  & Uruguay discussed the report and informed the audience about the persistent high level of child mortality as well as the key interventions needed to avert child mortality and morbidity, and the need of the Human Rights community to further engages in the ongoing efforts to strengthening accountability for children’s health.

It is our obligation under international law to end preventable child deaths reminded Craig Mokhiber, Chief of the Economic and Social Issues Branch from the UN OHCHR.

Dr Bernadette Daelmans from the WHO highlighted that the report gives a wealth of example of areas that need to be targeted and hopes that the Council continues its focus on Child Mortality and solutions to tackle it.

David Olayemi from Save the Children Nigeria which was also on the panel shared the child mortality situation in Nigeria and expressed how important the National Health Bill will be for child and maternal health improvement in Nigeria. He also added that we should NOT wait for governments to have will to act but we should will governments to act.

 Read more on David's blog

 

4th September 2013 – Bringing the voices of children at the UN - Advocacy at the Universal Periodic Review pre-session of Senegal

Four years have passed since the first Human Rights Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Senegal in 2009. This October in Geneva, Senegal, as many other countries under review, will be hold to account for the actions they have taken since the first review to follow through their commitments made in 2009 and to respond to emerging human rights challenges.

 

 

Save the Children supported the Senegalese national child rights coalition CONAFE, including a 16 year-old child representative, to advocate their key child rights concerns to the representatives of the United Nations Permanent Missions at the UPR pre-session on Senegal held on 4th September in Geneva. It is the first time our advocacy office supports child participation in UPR advocacy at Geneva level.

The UPR pre-session is a key opportunity for civil society representatives to share their assessment of the human rights situation in the country and influence the UPR process.

Two representatives from the CONAFE highlighted the ongoing challenges faced by children in Senegal in front of the Senegalese ambassador who attended the pre-session. Some of the issues raised were the high prevalence of early pregnancies and early marriages, the lack of clear legislation prohibiting child begging, the need for the State to adopt a Child Rights Act and for a free healthcare policy targeting children under five.

 

 

The oral statement presented by Justine Laison, Executive secretary of CONAFE, can be found here in English or in French.

The Universal Periodic Review session for Senegal will take place on October 21st. The agenda for the others countries can be found here.

 

3 June 2013 – Why protecting children on the move matters?

Protecting and fulfilling migrants’ rights is not a matter of charity, not is it a reward for obeying immigration rules states the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Pillay. She calls on the upcoming High-Level Dialogue to put in place an agenda for action on migration, migrants and human rights.

Millions of children are without appropriate care due to violence and abuse, poverty, conflict, parental illness, HIV and AIDS, disability and humanitarian disasters, etc. Such children live in many different circumstances, including being on the move.

International migration has become a large-scale and complex phenomenon and the number of children who are “on the move” is growing dramatically. It is estimated that there are approximately 750 million internal migrants and 214 million international migrants globally today – a number expected to grow to 400 million by 2040. An estimated 33 million international migrants worldwide are under the age of 20 (representing around 16 per cent of the total migrant population) and 11 million are children between the ages of 15 and 19 years.

Many of these migrants are children or young people moving either alone or with their parents, on a permanent or a seasonal basis. These children are invisible and ignored. They are not listened to. They are seen as a threat and not as children. They suffer isolation, prejudice and marginalization. Their mobility increases their vulnerability and risks of being exploited but it can also represents a potential for their future life and personal development if they can benefit from adequate protection along their trip or at destination.

Ms Pillay‘s statement was shared during a UN side-event organized by the permanent mission of Italy and Mexico, the Inter-Agency Group on Children on the Move and Save the Children.The speakers included amongst others high-level panelists, the Mexican Ambassador, the Minister Counsellor of Italy and the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.

 Ms Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights - M.French, UN representative, Save the Children - M.Crépeau, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants

The side-event opened-up a discussion on experiences and lessons learned from interventions focused on children on the move to share views on solutions through policies and concrete and coordinated measures in preparation of the UN High Level Dialogue on International Migration & Development in October 2013.

Ms Vojockova-Sollorano of the International Organisation for Migration highlighted the need of consistent and harmonized approach between countries in protecting migrants which will avoid unaccompanied children to fall through the crack when migrating to other countries.

The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, M. Crépeau, addressed the negative impact extensive criminalisation of irregular migrants including migrants children can have on migrants. He also added that all key stakeholders should recognize all children under 18 regardless of their status as right holders, that they should be provided with an alternative to detention and ensured they have a proper legal representative.

More on the Background Paper

Children on the move is a subtheme within the Children without Appropriate Care Child Protection priority area. Read Save the Children´s Child Protection Strategy 2013-2015

 

29 May 2013 – Quality education for the poorest and most vulnerable children discussed at the Human Right Council

With only two years left to the Millennium Development Goals’ deadline (MDGs), finding ways to tackle inequality and discrimination through a focus on the poorest, most marginalized and vulnerable groups, is fundamental.

One central post-2015 challenge is responding to the learning crisis: around 250 million children are currently failing to acquire basic literacy skills.A second major challenge is reducing educational inequality: the poorest and most marginalized are more likely to be out of school or receive a poor quality education.

In its new report “Ending the hidden exclusion”, Save the Children argues that two key principles should inform education thinking on the post-2015 framework: “learning and equity”.

These two core principles were discussed during a side-event in Geneva which reinforced the importance of including clear goals and targets in the post-2015 framework to ensure that all children everywhere receive quality education and have good learning outcomes by 2030.

 

 

Amongst the panellists were the Ambassadors of Australia, Portugal, Qatar and Senegal, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education and the Secretariat of the UN Global Education First Initiative, UNESCO.

The speakers also included a youth representative from the UN Global Education First Initiative Youth Advocacy Group (GEFI-YAG) and a Save the Children representative from the Education Global Initiative.

Attended by Governmental representatives, staff of UN agencies and bodies, representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs), the event sought to build consensus in the international community on the need to secure en education goal in the post-2015 framework.

 
“Ending the hidden exclusion”

Click here to access the full report (in English)

 

7 March 2013 - Child right to health at the heart of the Human rights debate.

First the first time in the history of the Human Rights Council, Child right to health was at the center of the debate in Geneva.

This year’s focus on health is the result of close collaboration with concerned member states by Save the Children and World Vision.

The discussions included morning and afternoon panel sessions andRichard Horton, editor of The Lancet, who moderated the discussion, asked to the delegates: What practical, feasible steps can States take to make the intersection between human rights and health work for children?

 

The morning session examines challenges in achieving the child’s right to health and emphasis was placed on the discrimination that children face while seeking access to health care.

The afternoon panel session focused on the implementation and accountability mechanisms of the child’s right to health. The speakers included Paul Hunt, Professor of Law at the University of Essex and former Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, and Maria Herczog, Member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Thomas Chandy, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children India, addressed the panel to highlight the importance of engaging the community through local accountability mechanisms to deliver substantive impact on child health. “This meeting is an important opportunity to develop concrete recommendations for member states  to promote and protect the right of the child to health, and also to highlight the role that civil society can play in encouraging communities, in particular children, to claim their right to health,” notes Chandy.  

From right to left, Division director; T. Chandy, CEO Save the Children India; I.de la Mata, Directorate-General Health and Consumers, European Commission; P.Hunt, Professor of Law; R.Horton, editor The Lancet

From right to left, Division director; T. Chandy, CEO Save the Children India; I.de la Mata, Directorate-General Health and Consumers, European Commission; P.Hunt, Professor of Law; R.Horton, editor The Lancet

Paul Hunt, former Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, highlighted some key enablers, such as enshrining the right to health in national constitutions, translating the right into a package of health services, actively engaging with civil society, and allowing remedial action through national courts. WHO is launching a new report at the upcoming 66th World Health Assembly, which will include country case studies to exemplify that impressive health gains can be achieved through human rights.  

 Delegates could watch two Save the Children videos of children’s voices talking about health during the morning and afternoon panels.

We delivered an oral statement stressing our priorities including equity and access to health care, nutrition and accountability.

Save The Children will continue to follow the negotiations on the child health resolution to ensure our priorities are included and that the Council commits to devoting attention to child mortality as a human rights issue in its future sessions.

 

5 March 2013 - How to ensure Child's right to health in a fragile context ?

A very exciting discussion happened in Geneva within the context of the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council.

Organized by Save the Children and World Vision, the debate focused on the Child’s right to health through adequate nutrition and how it can be ensured in a fragile context.

Amongst the panelists were the Canadian, the Mexican and the Yemeni ambassadors.

Saleck Ould Dah (Save The Children-Mali), Ambassador Elissa Golberg (Canadia), Ambassador Ulises Canchola (Mexico), Ambassador Ali Mohamed Majawar (Yemen), Kate Eardley (World Vision), Miss Tama (Haïti)

The speakers also included our EVERY ONE Campaign Advisor from Mali, a Senior Policy Adviser for World Vision and a Child from Haiti who talked on behalf of World Vision.

The Canadian ambassador pointed out that Geneva is the right place to be tackling the issue of Malnutrition but that the international community should be more ambitious in scaling up nutrition.

The event was very well attended, with a variety of missions, NGOs and UN agencies present. The presence in the audience of high profile figures such as the Sierra Leonean ambassador, the Haitian ambassador and the Deputy coordinator for UNICEF-Global nutrition Cluster shows the profile of engagement on the issue of nutrition. Contributions from the floor from these and other figures added to the excellent panel speakers.

See the event report.

18 February 2013 – ‘Superfood for Babies' – New report’s launch

Breastfeeding saves lives. It’s the closest thing there is to a ‘silver bullet’ in the fight against malnutrition and newborn deaths. 

Through a series of launch events around the world, Save the Children released its new report « Superfood for Babies - How overcoming barriers to breastfeeding will save children’s lives ».

The report shares the latest evidence on global breastfeeding trends and ways in which the key barriers to breastfeeding can be overcome. It says that the lives of 95 babies could be saved every hour -­‐ 830,000 a year -­‐ if new mothers around the world breastfed immediately after giving birth. It also highlights questionable marketing practices adopted by some breast milk substitute companies active in emerging markets.  

In Geneva, a global capital for nutrition policy, the occasion was marked by a roundtable which gathered together institutions and individuals who have a lead role on this issue. More than 50 people attended the event including missions, NGOs and UN agencies.

Elisabeth Dahlin, the Secretary General from Save the Children Sweden who presented the report said she was astonished that so little progress was made to prevent newborn deaths. If mothers were to breastfeed within the first hour of birth, twenty-two percent of these deaths could be prevented. 

The panelists from PMNCH, WHO and UNICEF welcomed the report for its synthesis of the problem and specific recommendations and actions at different levels that it outlines.

From right to left : Vilma Tyler, UNICEF - Bernadette Daelmans, WHO - Andres de Francisco, PMNCH (Chair), Elisabeth Dahlin, Save the Children Sweden and Simon Wright, Save the Children UK

Download the PDF report

Read the responses of BMS companies here

 A press release is available in English. For further information on our global campaign please visit everyone.org

 

28 November 2012 - UN Universal Periodic Review preparatory session:

Serbia and Montenegro

On November 28th, Save the Children supported national child rights coalitions from Serbia and Montenegro at a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) pre-session in Geneva. They presented their key child rights concerns to the representatives of the United Nations Missions. Other countries we supported at that session included Romania.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process. It involves a review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States every four and a half years, to ensure they fulfil their human rights obligations. The UPR pre-sessions enable Civil Society Organisations to meet delegations and share with them their assessment of the human rights situation in the country under review ahead of UPR sessions.

Save the Children supports and coordinates UPR advocacy with countries offices and coalitions that wish to submit information on child rights to the UPR process.

For the preparatory sessions of the Republic of Serbia, the Coalition representative spoke of the need to ban corporal punishment of children as a method of discipline in the family, problems within the juvenile justice system and the obstacles in the development of an inclusive society. The statement of the Coalition representative can be found here.

 

From the right to the left, Marija Petrovic on behalf of the Coalition for Monitoring Child Rights in the Republic of Serbia and the Child Rights Centre, Milan Antonijevic from the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights - YUCOM and Vesna Petrovic from Belgrade Center for Human Rights.

 

 

 For the preparatory sessions of Montenegro took part (from the right to the left):

* Ms. Zdenka Perovic, Secretary General, Ombudsman of Montenegro,

* Ms. Maja Jovovic Schmidt, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Montenegro to the UN office and other International Organizations in Geneve

* Ms. Edina Hasanaga Cobaj, Executive Director, NGO Civic Aliance

* Mr. Milan Radovic, Human Rights Program Coordinator , NGO Civic Aliance

* Ms. Maja Maras, Advisor for International Cooperation and Public Relations, Ombudsman of Montenegro

* Ms. Diarra Diop, Save the Children Geneva Office

The oral statement presented by Diarra Diop on behalf of the NGO Coalition, can be foundhere.

 

5-6 november 2012 - Interpretation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – General Comment

A Regional consultation for the clarification of the Child Rights to Health (article 24) from the Convention of the Rights of the Child was held in Manila from 5-6 november.

This Regional consultation attended by Bangladesh, Indonesia, China, Philippines helped to design the General Comment on the Article 24 . The process of developing a General Comment on the Child Rights to Health was launched in February 2011 by the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in partnership with WHO, UNICEF, World Vision and Save the Children.

 

 

 

20 September 2012 – Improving Maternal and Child Health through good budgeting practices

“Budget, rights, maternal and child health” side-event discussion organized by the Save the Children Geneva Office, explored the linkages between budgets, accountability and human rights frameworks for improving maternal and child health. It was also an opportunity to share and gather best practices on budgeting and on the use of budget analysis by civil society to monitor state performance and advocate for change in budgetary allocations.

The event was held during the 21st Human Rights Council where a technical guidance on applying a human rights approach to reducing maternal mortality and morbidity was introduced.

 Petronella Mayeya, Deputy Country Director, Save the Children Zambia ; Jolican Kabinga, Account officer, Lufwanyama District Health Office, Zambia ; Chantal Baumgarten, Project Officer Child Survival and Health, Save the Children Geneva ; Diarra Diop, Assistant Project officer, Save the Children Geneva

Among the panellists and as part of the Local to Global project, we invited a local level « champion » from the District Health Office in Lufwanyama, Zambia as well as the Deputy Director of Save the Children in Zambia to share their experiences. They highlighted some of the key concerns and challenges with regards to budgeting for child and maternal health at district and national level.

Participation by communities was highlighted as being essential; both at local and national level to ensure that decisions on budgeting reflect the concerns and needs of the affected communities. This can be encouraged through training in child rights for Government officials and communities. As the representative from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said: “Communities need to be empowered to ask why they only get that much money […]. They need to create demand and in time this will be supplied.”

The Health Advocacy Adviser from Save the Children UK also presented the new advocacy toolkit on health sector budget advocacy, which helps demystify the budget process, and highlights the importance of a bottom up approach.

Click here for a full report of the event.

 

22 May 2012 – Side-Event on “Improving Child Health Outcomes: The Universal Periodic Review”

The Geneva Office organized a side-event together with World Vision during the 13th session of the Universal Periodic Review on the use of a human rights mechanisms (the UPR) to improve child health outcomes. The event attracted both a human rights and public health audience, given the timing of the UPR and World Health Assembly during the same week – a rare opportunity to bring both audiences together.

As part of the Local to Global project, Shailey Hingorani from Save the Children India was among the panelists to highlight the two key health recommendations which figured in our submission to the UPR: 1 – to increase the national health budget and specifically the amount allocated to maternal and child health, and 2 – to ensure access to affordable quality health services for mothers and children, including through the recruitment of frontline health workers. These messages were reinforced in a meeting with the Indian Ambassador in Geneva, Mr. Dilip Sinha, the following day. The team in India also met with the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Manmohan Singh, that same week to reinforce yet again these messages on child and maternal health.

As a result of our continued advocacy through this and other events, our health recommendations were reflected in several State recommendations during the UPR Review of India.

21 May 2012 – World Health Assembly Side-Event on “Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition: Global Targets and National Success Stories”

Over 100 people attended the event hosted by the Mexican Mission at the height of the World Health Assembly.

Presenters included Francesco Branca from the WHO on the global nutrition targets, Rica Garde from Save UK on the stunting research and Kate Eardley from World Vision on an example from Uganda on scaling up nutrition.

Through the Local to Global Project, we were also able to secure the participation of a key nutrition advocate within the Ministry of Health in Afghanistan to share the Afghan example on addressing child malnutrition.

The event and discussion helped to influence the debate on the Implementation Plan on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition. Many countries present at the event ended up leading the negotiations on the nutrition resolution which endorsed the Implementation Plan and therefore the six global nutrition targets, including the target on stunting.

20 April 2012 – “Lessons in Leadership: Save the Children’s experience of co-leading the Education Cluster” Report Launch

“We don’t often have lessons that are so applicable and relevant to our work. We hope others will build on Save the Children’s Lessons in Leadership and follow their example.” John Ging | Director Coordination and Response Division, OCHA

 Save the Children's experience of co-leading the Education Cluster

Lessons in Leadership: Save the Children’s experience of co-leading the Education Cluster captures the highlights from the four years of our co-leadership, both at a global and country level. The report includes a preface by Valerie Amos, Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, reiterating her support for the Education Cluster and the importance of shared UN and NGO co-leadership.

The report is based on face-to-face and phone interviews with more than 40 individuals working directly with and alongside the Education Cluster at country, regional and global levels and represents the wealth of our combined experiences and understanding.

The launch was held at United Nations Office in Geneva on Friday 20 April at an event hosted by the Dutch Mission to the UN and moderated by their Deputy Ambassador. Mike Penrose participated in the panel discussion along with guest speaker, John Ging, the Director of OCHA’s Coordination and Response Division, Dermot Carty, UNICEF’s Deputy Director of Emergency Operations. We also heard from Marian Hodgkin, Education Cluster Co-Coordinator in South Sudan. The launch was well attended by UN agencies, NGOs and UN member states, including representatives from Switzerland, Japan, Mexico, Australia, Canada and ECHO.

 

Utilising the lessons we have learned
The overwhelming message coming from all participants at the launch was the importance of NGOs taking a strong role in strengthening humanitarian response and the Education Cluster was held up as a model to be replicated. The calibre of the presenters on the panel and the high level of interest from donors, the UN and other organisations in this event further demonstrate that our co-leadership of the Education Cluster enhances our credibility as a humanitarian organisation and provides us unparalleled access, profile and leverage for our humanitarian work.

As Cluster co-leads we must take the opportunity to voice our beliefs in how the leadership and co-ordination of humanitarian aid should implemented. We believe Lessons in Leadership is an excellent tool which can be used to support advocacy discussions for increased overall support for education in emergencies.

If you would like hard copies, please contact the Education Cluster Unit with the number of reports you would like and an address and contact name to send them to.

5 March 2012 – “The right to nutrition: key to children’s health and survival” Human Rights Council side-event discussion

Jointly organised with World Vision, the event featured the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, an Indian parliamentarian Dr Charles Dias as part of the close Local to Global link with India, and Ben Phillips, our Everyone Campaign Mobilisation Director.

UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Mr. Olivier De Schutter

The side event served to further explore how human rights can reinforce efforts to promote access to adequate diets, one of the most urgent challenges facing the world today. The figures speak for themselves. Hunger and malnutrition contribute to one third of all deaths among children under the age of five. One in three children in the developing world suffer from chronic malnutrition, with malnourished girls later delivering low birth weight babies, reinforcing a vicious intergenerational cycle of high maternal and child mortality.

The event was very well attended, with a variety of missions, NGOs and UN agencies present. The presence in the audience of high profile figures such as David Nabarro (Special Representative of the Secretary General for Nutrition and Food Security) and Francesco Branca (WHO Director, Nutrition for Health and Development) was indicative of the timeliness and profile of engagement on the issue of the right to nutrition. Contributions from the floor from these and other figures added to the excellent panel speakers. See the event report and watch the speakers’ video interviews about the right to food.

28 February 2012 – Official UN signing ceremony of a third optional protocol to the UNCRC

The signing ceremony took place during the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva opening the Protocol for signature and ratification .

For the first time and more than twenty years after the official recognition of their rights, children are provided with the possibility to access justice at the international level through a newly adopted complaints procedure to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The adoption of this new international treaty by the UN General Assembly on 19 December 2011 will allows individuals, groups or their representatives, claiming that their rights have been violated by a State that is a party to a Convention, to bring a communication before the relevant UN treaty body; provided that the State has accepted the procedure and that the complainants have exhausted domestic remedies.

The signing ceremony at the United Nations is the result of active campaigning by an NGO coalition representing child rights and human rights NGOs across the world since 2006. The NGO coalition campaigned for this new instrument to offer children a level of protection equivalent to that provided to adults at the UN level.

Twenty States from across the world, namely Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Finland, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mali, Montenegro, Morocco, Peru, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Uruguay, demonstrated strong leadership and political commitment to protecting children’s rights by signing the Protocol today.

This is an important first step, but those States will still need to ratify the Protocol in order to be bound by its provisions and at least ten countries must ratify the Protocol before it can be used.

A joint press release is available in English and in French. For further information on the OPCRC please contact Michael French [email protected].

15 February 2012 – Launch of Save the Children new global report on child malnutrition

New global survey shows that, following year of rocketing food prices, nearly half of surveyed families are forced to cut back on food and children do not have enough food to eat.

 •Patrick Watt, Campaign Director, Save the Children International • Chaired by Carole Presern, Director, PMNCH • Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director General, Family, Women's and Children's Health, WHO • Regina Moench-Pfanner, Senior Director, Innovation and Technical Services, GAIN

Through a series of launch events around the world, Save the Children released the new report ‘A Life Free from Hunger: Tackling Child Malnutrition’ that sets out the scale and dimensions of malnutrition globally, its impact on child mortality and development, and the policy solutions that can tackle malnutrition and boost child survival. See the full report.

In Geneva, a global capital for nutrition policy, the occasion was marked by a roundtable which gathered together institutions and individuals who have a lead role on this issue, drawing attention to the need for committed action around the world. See the event report.

A press release is available in English and French. For further information on our global campaign please visit everyone.org

19 December 2011 – Adoption of a third optional protocol to the UNCRC

The UN General Assembly has taken a remarkable historical step forward for the protection of children’s rights by adopting the Optional Protocol (OP) to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on a complaints mechanism for children’s rights violations.

Girls on in Sanjay Colony, New Delhi, India. Sanjay Colony is a slum in Delhi, which is home to 11,000 people. Save the Children supports a mobile health clinic, staffed by a doctor, nurses and a pharmacist. Rachel Palmer / Image Save the Children

This Protocol will enable children who are victims of abuses and violations of their rights to submit complaints to the Committee on the Rights of the Child. A wide range of cases will be able to be brought to the attention of the international community – from child soldiers in Africa to children from minority groups who are discriminated against in Europe, from children who are forced into sexual exploitation, to those who are denied a fundamental right such as health or education – thus breaking the silence around these violations and forcing States to take responsibility for children.

Save the Children with over 80 international and national NGOs have been campaigning for many years to offer children a level of protection equivalent to that provided to adults by other core human rights treaties. Now that the international legal framework is created, the NGO coalition is dedicated to campaigning for the widespread ratification of the Protocol and making sure it is used to make a real difference in the struggle to protect children around the world.

A joint press release and a joint public statement are available in English. For further information on the OPCRC please contact Michael French [email protected].

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