Holy See defends children's rights before UN Human Rights Council

Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic

Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic

Source: Vatican News Service

The Holy See's Permanent Observer to the UN, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, presents a third statement to the 37th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, in which he defends the rights of children. This statement follows one which affirmed the role of culture in society and one covering freedom of religion or belief.

Responding to the High Commissioner's Report on the protection of children's rights in humanitarian situations, Archbishop Jurkovic says that the Holy See believes that while there has been some progress, "we are deeply concerned by the fact that, in 2017, around 535 million children were affected by humanitarian disasters; this represents one child out of four in the world."

The growing number of humanitarian situations - war, local crises, natural disasters - affect "too many people, especially our children, our future." As a result, a growing number of children are refugees, migrants, internally displaced, orphaned. Especially those living in the poorest parts of the world are trapped in the most vulnerable situations, others become victims to the unscrupulous-abused, smuggled, trafficked, suffer the loss of organs, and recruited as soldiers. Archbishop Jurkovic says that the Holy See wants to emphasize that "the dignity of our children is at risk and that the best interests of the child should be a priority within every humanitarian situation." Such experiences suffered during childhood affect their survival, "their mental, social and environmental development as well as their physical well-being."

But the rights necessary for the development of these children can only be enjoyed if they are "registered at birth," the Archbishop noted. "Prevention is the best medicine, and this begins with access to citizenship, health, education and promoting a culture of respect of human rights and human dignity of every child." Although the legal framework for the protection of children exists, "it just needs to be applied." Therefore, the Holy See "calls on the international community, governments, civil society, NGOs and all relevant stakeholders to collaborate closely to protect children." When it comes to children, the Archbishops emphasizes that their best interest should always be the "guiding principles in all circumstances and without any conditions." Their safety, and their emotional and physical well-being is the responsibility of every "citizen of the world."

Archbishop Jurkovic concludes by quoting Pope Francis: "A people that does not take care of its elderly, its children and its youth have no future, because it abuses both memory and promise."

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