Geneva, Switzerland

09 March 2016

Secretary-General's message for launch of initiative entitled "High Time to End Violence Against Children" [delivered by Ms. Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children]

It is a great pleasure to send my best wishes and greetings to everyone involved in this worthwhile initiative.
Freedom from fear and violence, and respect for the dignity and human rights of all members of the human family, are the heart of the United Nations.
They are the very foundation of peaceful, cohesive and prosperous societies. Our efforts to end violence, whether state-sponsored or embedded in deep-rooted social conventions or harmful practices, must start with the protection of our youngest citizens.
Every child has the right to freedom from all forms of violence. This is not just common sense and basic morality; it is an international legal obligation, enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the world’s most widely ratified human rights treaty.
Last year, of the 2.2 billion children in the world, at least one billion children suffered from physical, sexual or psychological violence. This figure is so daunting that we may feel overwhelmed and powerless. But we shouldn't. Violence can be prevented, and we know how.
By working to change social norms, beliefs and deeply-rooted attitudes and behaviours, and by addressing poverty, discrimination, social exclusion and weak rule of law—factors that we know fuel violence and increase children’s vulnerability—we can build a safer world for our children. It is high time to end all forms of violence against children.
The Sustainable Development Goals, which form the basis of the United Nations development agenda for the next fifteen years, include important provisions under Goal 16 to end the abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children.
Let us use the values of the United Nations to form a space where all children can thrive and develop to their full potential. We must work together to close the gaps in this protective circle.
I wish you all the best with this initiative and with all your efforts to end violence against children.