Expert Talk on Violence Against Children
On 1 May 2009, the Secretary-General announced the appointment of Marta Santos Pais of Portugal as his Special Representative on violence against children, at the level of Assistant Secretary General. Ms Santos Pais took her position on 1 September 2009.
As a global independent advocate in favour of the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against children, the Special Representative acts as a bridge builder and a catalyst of actions in all regions, and across sectors and settings where violence against children may occur; she mobilizes action and political support to maintain momentum around this agenda and to achieve steady progress the world over.
The protection of children from violence calls for urgent action. Violence is a harsh reality for millions of children around the world; it remains largely invisible and socially accepted, and it has serious, lifelong emotional and health impacts on children’s lives; it undermines child development and learning abilities, inhibits positive relationships, provokes trauma and depression and leads to risk-taking and aggressive behaviour.
Guided by this sense of urgency and the need to accelerate progress in key strategic areas, over the period of three years foreseen for her mandate, the Special Representative will place a priority focus on:
1. Promoting a strategic agenda, building upon the recommendation of the United Nations study on violence against children
2. Strengthening key partnerships to achieve progress in the follow-up to the study
3. Securing firm support, including sound funding to promote progress in children’s protection from all forms of violence.
The mandate of the Special Representative is framed by the UN study on violence against children and its strategic recommendations; it builds upon public health and child protection initiatives and developments, and envisages the protection of children from violence against as a human rights imperative. Indeed, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international human rights instruments provide a firm normative foundation for the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against children. These international standards constitute a sound reference for mainstreaming the protection of children from violence in the national policy agenda, helping to avoid fragmented, diluted or simply reactive solutions and influencing lasting change through their steady implementation. For this reason, the Special Representative promotes the universal ratification and effective implementation of core human rights treaties.
On 25 May 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted two optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The protocols offer additional protection to children who suffer most because of armed conflict, or sale or exploitation of children for purposes of prostitution or pornography.
Ten years on, ratification of these protocols continue to lag far behind the ratification of the convention itself and many reservations still prevail. For this reason the SRSG is giving a priority attention to the promotion of the universal ratification by 2012 of the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
Marta Santos Pais initiated her position in September 2009. She has more than 30 years of experience on human rights issues. Prior to taking up her mandate, she was Director of the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, a post she had held since 2001. She joined UNICEF in 1997, as Director of Evaluation, Policy and Planning and served as Co-Chair of the United Nations Development Group Working Group on Human Rights. From 1991 to 1997, Ms.Santos Pais was the Rapporteur of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. She also served as Special Adviser to the Machel Study on Children Affected by Armed Conflict and to the United Nations Study on Violence against Children.
Marta Santos Pais is in Germany by invitation of Deutsches Komitee für UNICEF e.V.
Deutsche Gesellschaft für die Vereinten Nationen e.V.