CHILDREN’S RIGHTS

REQUESTS the IEC to, within the ISP, identify minors as an especially vulnerable priority group; in such a way that the organization will work on the serious human rights violations and abuse suffered by girls, boys and teenagers in all the main campaigns and actions.

Explanatory note

In 2006, the United Nations presented a world study of violence against children in which it is stated: “violence against children comes in many forms and depends on wide variety of factors, ranging from the personal characteristics of the victim and the aggressor to their cultural and physical environment.  However, a considerable part of the violence exerted against children remains occult for many reasons.”  According to this report, approximately 53,000 children die throughout the world as a consequence of homicides in 2008 and in many countries in all the regions of the world between 80% and 98% of the children suffer corporal punishment at home and a third or more of them receive various serious punishment applied with a variety of utensils.  It is also stated that between 20% and 65% of children in school age had been subjected to physical or verbal harassment during the 30 days prior to the poll. Harassment between schoolmates is also frequent in industrialised countries.  On the other hand, the World Health Organisation has calculated that 150 million girls and 73 million boys below 18 years of age underwent forced sexual relations or suffered other forms of sexual violence with physical contact in 2002.

Amnesty International was part of the international coalition that contributed to the drafting of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) that started its work in 1979. One year before, in the 1978 ICM, the Belgian section –seconded by the Danish section – proposed a campaign focussed on the violation of the rights of minors. These beginnings seemed to augur an ongoing working commitment of Amnesty International with the defence of the rights enshrined in the CRC. However, that proposal from the Belgian section not only was not sufficiently supported but since then, the organisation’s work in that field has not been persistent and has been irregular.

AI’s children’s network has practically not functioned since it was reactivated in December 2007, when it came under the aegis of the Health Team. On the other hand, AI is part of the International Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers and various sections (among them the Spanish Section in 2004) became members of national coalitions. Since then, no action proposal related with that coalition has been received from the IS. Four single actions related with child soldiers have indeed been sent out, completely unrelated with the International Coalition. Within the Arms Control campaign, the impact of the generalisation of light weapons in the hands of children has been generally included in the course but has not boosted action to specifically make visible the impact of the Arms trade in their lives. On the other hand, during the “Stop Violence against Women” campaign only two reports focused on forms of violence that specifically affect girls.[1] The “Counter Terror with Justice” campaign has paid special attention to the impact of such violence on minors (detained in Guantánamo, “disappeared” in countries such as Pakistan, etc.) We miss, for example, a clear position against the withdrawal of legal and juridical frameworks in Latin America in terms of juvenile justice (as well as in Europe and other regions).

Other sections have also stated their concern for AI’s work in the defence of minors’ rights: New Zealand’s petition for a strategic campaign of minors; the promotion of an international meeting to review the work undertaken in this field hosted by the Danish section, etc.

AI’s contribution in the advances obtained to put and end to executions in United States for people condemned to death for crimes committed when they were minors; and the growth experienced by AI’s minors network over the last decade (37 sections now have teams working on minors), should be a good incentive to work more and better to put an end to serious violations of human rights suffered by minors due to their condition of special vulnerability.


[1] What is female genital mutilation? (February 2004) and Safe Schools. Every girl’s right. (March 2008).

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