Photo: WCC/Rudelmar Bueno di Faria

Photo: WCC/Rudelmar Bueno di Faria

UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, this week invited 20 of its major partners from the private sector and civil society to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit represented faith based-organizations at a high-level breakfast in New York on 20 November hosted by the UN agency dealing with children’s rights and needs.

The meeting was an opportunity for a key group of major UNICEF partners to engage in dialogue with Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz on the theme of equity and children’s rights, explained the WCC in a statement issued from its headquarters in Geneva on 21 November.

Tveit said in his presentation: “To believe that God created all of us means also that God wants all children to continue to be sustained and for them all to have the same opportunities.”

He cautioned, “To ignore the rights of girls and boys, and to accept inequalities among children, is to ignore the peace and justice of God.”

The WCC general secretary noted, “As churches we offer access to education and health care. We preach the practice of love and attention. But there is much that needs to be done in our faith communities.

“Therefore, we also need to commit to the rights of children - and to work with international partners like UNICEF.”

At the end of the meeting with UNICEF, Tveit concluded: “When we look at the obstacles to justice and peace we are addressing as WCC today, armed conflicts, climate changes, economic injustice, domestic violence and others, we have to say that they are particularly dramatic for the children of the world today. To address them from the perspective of children and their rights, we get a deeper and even more relevant understanding of why we have to address them as churches and people of faith. If we are called to bring signs of hope, we have to do so for the next generations and their future.”

During his visit to the United States, the WCC general secretary met other leading UN figures including: Olav Kjørven, director of the Public Partnerships Division, UNICEF; Cynthia Scharf, UN Secretary-General Climate Change Support Team; Victor Kisob, director of the UN Ebola Response Liaison Office; Rev. Jim Winkler, general secretary of the United States' National Council of Churches (NCCCUSA);  Shaun Casey, special representative of the Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives, U.S. State Department; and Jens Toyberg-Frandzen, UN assistant secretary-general ad interim for Political Affairs.

On the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the State of the World’s Children report presented an agenda for change.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. Since then, advocacy for advancing child rights has made immense progress. There has been a huge reduction in the numbers of children dying before the age of five, and there is increased access to education and clean water.