Latin America, Middle East Deadliest Place for Teens


November 9, 2017 – Adolescents in Middle Eastern and Latin American countries stand the greatest risk of a violent death, according to a new report from the UN children’s agency.

More than half of the 51,000 teenage homicides globally occur in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras and Venezuela while adolescents are killed from conflict and civil war in the Middle East at a rate higher than all other regions combined, with the greatest burden on Iraq and Syria.

Overall, there were 89,000 adolescents violently killed last year, or one death every seven minutes.

For boys, the risk of dying violently is highest in Colombia, El Salvador, Iraq, Syria and Venezuela while for girls the risk is highest in Syria, Iraq, Honduras as well as Afghanistan and South Sudan.

Sex and race distinctions put some groups of teens at a higher risk. For example, the rate of homicides among teenage boys is four times greater than that of girls and teenage boys are far more likely to be killed by a stranger.

Teenage girls on the other hand have a far greater risk of being killed by a family member. Globally, almost 50 percent of female homicides are perpetrated by family or intimate partners compared with six percent for males.

In the United States, African-American teenage boys are 19 times more likely to be a victim of a homicide than all other races. If the rate of homicides for Black teenagers in the U.S. was applied nationwide, the United States would be among the ten deadliest places for teenagers.

Teenage girls stand a far higher risk of sexual violence than boys but the authors note that limited data on sexual violence and boys constrains their understanding of the full extent of the problem. Worldwide, some 9 million girls aged between 15-19 were the victims of rape last year.

The full report is here.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

The 51 Countries That Have Banned Corporal Punishment

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Nov. 21, 2016 – Slovenia has become the latest country to ban corporal punishment in all settings, including in the home, after its parliament passed a law late last month amending its law on prevention of family violence.

This reform makes Slovenia the 51st state worldwide to fully prohibit all corporal punishment of children, the 30th Council of Europe member state, and the 21st European Union state to do so.

The new Slovenian legislation entered into force on Nov. 19.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child defines corporal punishment as “any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however slight,” and it calls physical punishment “invariably degrading.”

Corporal punishment in schools is banned in 128 states but only 10 percent of children worldwide are protected by laws banning corporal punishment at home and in school.

Sweden was the world’s first country to ban corporal punishment in 1979. Besides Slovenia, two other countries – Mongolia and Paraguay – enacted legislation this year banning corporal punishment in all settings.

A full list of countries that have enacted laws prohibiting violence against children in the home and school is below, courtesy of the Global Initiative to End Corporal Punishment.

2016 – MongoliaParaguaySlovenia
2015 – BeninIrelandPeru
2014 – AndorraEstoniaNicaraguaSan MarinoArgentinaBoliviaBrazilMalta
2013 – Cabo VerdeHondurasTFYR Macedonia
2011 – South Sudan
2010 – AlbaniaCongo (Republic of)KenyaTunisiaPoland
2008 – LiechtensteinLuxembourgRepublic of MoldovaCosta Rica
2007 – TogoSpainVenezuelaUruguayPortugalNew ZealandNetherlands
2006 – Greece
2005 – Hungary
2004 – RomaniaUkraine
2003 – Iceland
2002 – Turkmenistan
2000 – GermanyIsraelBulgaria
1999 – Croatia
1998 – Latvia
1997 – Denmark
1994 – Cyprus
1989 – Austria
1987 – Norway
1983 – Finland
1979 – Sweden

Related: Ireland Becomes 47th Country to Ban Corporal Punishment

Ireland Becomes 47th Country to Ban Corporal Punishment

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Nov. 11, 2015 – Ireland has become the latest country to ban corporal punishment in all settings, including in the home, after its parliament adopted legislation on Wednesday repealing the common law defence of “reasonable chastisement” of children.

The law makes Ireland the 20th European Union state to achieve prohibition of corporal punishment, the 29th Council of Europe member state, and the 47th state worldwide.

Some 80 states and territories worldwide have a law that provides a legal defence for the use of corporal punishment in childrearing derived from English law on “reasonable chastisement.”

Speaking in the Seanad, Ireland’s upper house of parliament, Senator Jillian van Turnhout said during the amendment debate that the reasonable punishment defence “still allows parents and some other carers to justify common assault on children.”

“With this amendment we have a way to unite and agree that all citizens are equal,” she said. “There must never be a defence for violence against children.”

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child defines corporal punishment as “any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however slight,” and it calls physical punishment “invariably degrading.”

Corporal punishment in schools is banned in 127 states but only 10 percent of children worldwide are protected by laws banning corporal punishment at home and in school.

Sweden was the world’s first country to ban corporal punishment in 1979.

A full list of countries that have enacted laws prohibiting violence against children in the home and school is below, courtesy of the Global Initiative to End Corporal Punishment.

Most recent first:

2015 – BeninIreland
2014 – AndorraEstoniaNicaraguaSan MarinoArgentinaBoliviaBrazilMalta
2013 – Cabo VerdeHondurasTFYR Macedonia
2011 – South Sudan
2010 – AlbaniaCongo (Republic of)KenyaTunisiaPoland
2008 – LiechtensteinLuxembourgRepublic of MoldovaCosta Rica
2007 – TogoSpainVenezuelaUruguayPortugalNew ZealandNetherlands
2006 – Greece
2005 – Hungary
2004 – RomaniaUkraine
2003 – Iceland
2002 – Turkmenistan
2000 – GermanyIsraelBulgaria
1999 – Croatia
1998 – Latvia
1997 – Denmark
1994 – Cyprus
1989 – Austria
1987 – Norway
1983 – Finland
1979 – Sweden

Somalia Ratifies Child Rights Convention, U.S. Sole Holdout

Oct. 1, 2015  – Somalia on Thursday became the 196th country to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child when it confirmed its commitment to the treaty at U.N. headquarters in New York on Thursday.

Mogadishu’s ratification leaves the United States as the sole U.N. member state not to have consented to the convention, which is the most ratified treaty in history.

The text was opened for signature on Nov. 20th 1989 and came into force on Sept. 2nd, 1990, after the required number of ratifications.

UN special representative for children in armed conflict, Leila Zerrougi (4th. fr. left) among invitees for deposit of Somali's ratification.

UN special representative for children in armed conflict, Leila Zerrougi (4th. fr. left), among invitees for deposit of Somali’s ratification.

Somalia announced its ratification in January this year but this was not formalized until it deposited what are known as the instruments of ratification with the United Nations treaty office, which it did on Thursday.

The child rights convention requires states to act in the best interests of children and forbids capital punishment for children. It acknowledges that every child has rights, including a right to life, to his or her own name, and to have a relationship with both parents, even if they are separated.

The United States was instrumental in drafting the convention and signed it in 1996, but has not yet ratified the text because it forbids capital punishment and life imprisonment for children.

The full text of the convention is here and the list of countries that have ratified the treaty is here.

– Denis Fitzgerald
@denisfitz

Were the MDGs Successful?

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September 23, 2015 – The Millennium Development Goals expire at the end of this year and will be replaced by the Sustainable Development Goals that will be adopted by UN member states on Friday.

But as advocates have pointed out, particularly those from the least developed countries, the MDG agenda is still unfinished business and will be incorporated into the new, and expanded, global goals that will run until 2030.

Here we take stock of what has been achieved since 2000 when the eight Millennium Development Goals were adopted, and the gaps that remain.

Goal 1 – Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

The number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen from 1.75 billion in 1999 to 836 million in 2015 but about 800 million people still live in extreme poverty and suffer from hunger. Over 160 million children under the age of five have inadequate height for their age due to malnutrition.

Goal 2 – Achieve universal primary education

The number of out-of-school children of primary school age worldwide fell by almost half, to an estimated 57 million in 2015, down from 100 million in 2000. Primary school net enrollment rate in the developing regions has reached 91 percent in 2015 from 83 percent in 2000. Further efforts needed to achieve universal primary education.

Goal 3 – Promote gender equality and empower women

The average proportion of women in parliament has increased from 14 percent to 22 percent since 2000, but remains low in absolute terms. Globally, about three-quarters of working-age men participate in the labor force, compared to only half of working-age women. Women earn 24 percent less than men globally.

Goal 4 – Reduce child mortality

The global under-five mortality rate has declined by more than half, dropping from 90 to 43 deaths per 1,000 live births between 1990 and 2015. More work is needed to improve child survival rates. Every minute around the world, 11 children die before their fifth birthday, mostly from preventable causes.

Goal 5 – Improve maternal health

The global maternal mortality ratio has fallen from 330 to 210 deaths per 100,000 live births between 2000 and 2013. Only half of pregnant women receive the recommended amount of antenatal care.

Goal 6 – Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

New HIV infections fell by 40 percent between 2000 and 2013, from an estimated 3.5 million cases to 2.1 million. In sub-Saharan Africa, still less than 40 percent of youth aged 15 to 24 years had correct knowledge of HIV transmission in 2014. Over 6.2 million malaria deaths have been averted between 2000 and 2015

Goal 7 – Ensure environmental sustainability

Between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of the global population using an improved sanitation facility has risen from 54 percent to 68 percent, and those using an improved drinking water source increased from 76 percent to 91 percent. Globally, 147 countries have met the MDG drinking water target, 95 countries have met the MDG sanitation target and 77 countries have met both. Emissions of carbon dioxide rose from 23.8 to 33.0 billion metric tons from 2000 to 2012.

Goal 8 –  Develop a global partnership for development

Official development assistance from developed countries rose 66 percent in real terms between 2000 and 2014, to USD 135.2bn. Funding will remain a critical factor for the post-2015 development agenda.

Related Story: Understanding the Sustainable Development Goals – Five Key Questions

Gaza Report Adds to Pressure on Ban to Put IDF on Child Violators List

UNRWA school being used as a shelter, July 2014 source: wikimedia

UNRWA school in northern Gaza being used as a shelter, July 2014. source: wikimedia

April 28, 2015 – Ban Ki-moon will face further calls to include the IDF in his annual list of groups that commit grave violations against children after the release of his public summary of the report of the Board of Inquiry established to investigate death and damage at UN premises during the summer war in Gaza.

Ban’s public summary stated that the board found the Israeli Defence Forces responsible for the deaths of 44 Palestinians as a result of attacks on seven schools sheltering civilians during the July-August 2014 conflict.

Attacks on schools are one of the six grave violations that result in listing in Ban’s annual report on children and armed conflict and such attacks are also a violation of Security Council resolution 1998 adopted unanimously in 2011.

Ban’s summary also stated that Hamas had stored weapons in UN schools, though not in any of the schools that were attacked. The use of schools for military purposes also triggers listing the annual report of grave violators.

Ban’s cover letter to the Security Council and the accompanying public summary of the Board of Inquiry report are below.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Related Story: UN Stonewalling on Listing IDF as Child Violators

Board of Inquiry Gaza

UN Stonewalling on Decision to List IDF as Child Violators

"Palestinian man with child during Operation Protective Edge" by Basel Yazouri -  Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Palestinian_man_with_child_during_Operation_Protective_Edge.jpg#/media/File:Palestinian_man_with_child_during_Operation_Protective_Edge.jpg

“Palestinian man with child during Operation Protective Edge” by Basel Yazouri – License: Creative Commons

April 7, 2015 – Ban Ki-moon’s office says he is still preparing his annual report on children and armed conflict but is so far unwilling to say whether the secretary-general will name the Israeli Defence Forces in his list of groups that have committed grave violations against children.

Ban has been urged to include the IDF in the annex of the annual report, which lists state and non-state forces that have committed grave violations against children, over its conduct during the six-week summer conflict in Gaza that the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says resulted in the deaths of 551 Palestinian children.

A source told UN Tribune that a meeting was scheduled for April 6 in New York involving Ban and the UN’s special representative for children and armed conflict, Leila Zerrougui, during which a decision on listing the IDF would be made. A spokesperson for Zerrougui’s office said the meeting did not take place.

The source said UN staff working on the ground in Gaza have urged the inclusion of Israel in the annual report but have been subject to intimidation from inside the Israeli government.

At stake, the source added, is Ban’s Human Rights Up Front initiative which was launched after the UN’s systematic failure during the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka. The initiative aims to support United Nations staff who warn of human rights abuses and tasks the UN system “with using all the resources at its disposal, including its moral authority” to promote and encourage human rights especially with regard to protecting civilians.

While the United States has steadfastly lobbied the UN on Israel’s behalf in the past, which included the US mission to the United Nations overseeing Ban’s release of details of a 2009 UN inquiry into Israel’s 2008 invasion of Gaza, recent statements from the White House indicate that Washington’s appetite to shield Israel from rebuke at the United Nations is waning.

Ban would also be expected to list Hamas in his annual report for its indiscriminate rocket fire into civilian areas of southern Israel endangering the lives of Israeli children as well as for using schools and hospitals to store and launch rockets.

Last year’s annual report on children and armed conflict listed 59 parties in 15 countries including eight state armed forces and 51 other armed groups that have committed any of the six categories of grave violations identified by the United Nations.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

UN Tourism Conference Held In Cambodia Where Children are Sold to Vacationers

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Feb. 9, 2015 – A first-ever world tourism and culture conference was held in Cambodia last week as that same country’s record on protecting children came under review by the Child Rights Committee in Geneva.

The conference, organized by the UN World Tourism Organization and UNESCO, concluded on Friday – a day after the UN committee released a blistering report on Cambodia’s compliance with the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

In its report on Thursday, the committee said it “deeply regrets that preventive measures regarding offenses prohibited by the Optional Protocol remain inadequate and fragmentary.”

In particular, the committee said they were concerned about “orphanage tourism, which seems to be a growing phenomenon where children in institutions and orphanages are being exposed to sexual exploitation by foreigners, such as tourists and volunteer workers.”

It also asked the government of Cambodia to revise its laws by “defining and criminalizing all forms of sale of children and child pornography.”

An estimated one-third of prostitutes in Cambodia are under the age of 18 and the country’s laws do not specifically define or prohibit the prostitution of children.

The committee asked Cambodia’s government to push its tourism agencies and travel agents to sign up the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism published by the UNWTO – the same agency that held its inaugural tourism and culture conference in Cambodia last week.

Some 37 percent of the victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in Cambodia are children, according to UNICEF, and up to 30 percent of boys and girls reported experiencing forced sex in their lifetimes.

The UNWTO/UNESCO tourism conference made no note of child sex tourism in its press release following the conference’s conclusion but on Monday it was announced that Carol Bellamy, a former executive-director of UNICEF and New York City councilwoman, had been appointed as chair of the UNWTO child protection network.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Peshawar Attack is Deadliest Assault Yet on Children’s Education in Pakistan

Schoolgirls in Abbotabad, Pakistan, 2013 (wikimedia)

Schoolgirls in Abbotabad, Pakistan, 2013 (wikimedia)

Dec. 16, 2014 – Less than one week after Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousefzai collected the Noble Peace Prize for her championing of children’s education, a cause for which she was shot in the head by the Taliban as a 14-year-old two years ago in the Swat Valley, the fundamentalist group has carried out its deadliest attack so far on a school in the country.

Tuesday’s assault by the Pakistan Taliban on a military-run school in Peshawar, which killed scores of children as well as teachers, is the latest in a growing list of attacks in which Taliban militants have attacked childhood education, with girls schools and female university students frequently the target.

Two schools for girls in Pakistan were blown up in November and October this year, one of which had recently been reconstructed following a previous attack.

According the UN envoy for children and armed conflict, 78 schools in Pakistan were attacked in 2013. A separate report, from the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, reports there were 838 attacks on schools in Pakistan from 2009-2012, more than in any other country, as well as attacks on school buses, such as the one targeting Malala, which also resulted in two of her schoolmates being shot.

Research from Save the Children, a non-governmental organization, suggests that children entering primary school in countries affected by conflict are 20 percent more likely to leave primary school before completion than children in countries not affected by conflict.

In addition to Pakistan, neighboring Afghanistan, where some 550 children have been killed in the past year, according to reports by Ban Ki-moon, and Nigeria, where the terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in March this year, are two of the other worst countries for attacks on children’s education.

Intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to education is a war crime, according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

The 42 Countries That Have Banned Corporal Punishment

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Nov. 20, 2014 – As the world celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Child Rights Convention, less than 10 percent of children around the globe are protected by laws banning corporal punishment.

But that’s almost double the amount of children protected from last year with Argentina and Brazil among four of the countries enacting laws in 2014 to protect minors from violence in the home and school.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child defines corporal punishment as “any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however slight,” and it calls physical punishment “invariably degrading.”

Sweden was the world’s first country to ban corporal punishment in 1979 while San Marino became the most recent when its parliament passed a bill in June this year.

A full list of countries that have enacted laws prohibiting violence against children in the home and school is below, courtesy of the Global Initiative to End Corporal Punishment. Most recent first:

San Marino (2014)

Argentina (2014)

Bolivia (2014)

Brazil (2014)

Malta (2014)

Cabo Verde (2013)

Honduras (2013)

TFYR Macedonia (2013)

South Sudan (2011)

Albania (2010)

Congo, Republic of (2010)

Kenya (2010)

Tunisia (2010)

Poland (2010)

Liechtenstein (2008)

Luxembourg (2008)

Republic of Moldova (2008)

Costa Rica (2008)

Togo (2007)

Spain (2007)

Venezuela (2007)

Uruguay (2007)

Portugal (2007)

New Zealand (2007)

Netherlands (2007)

Greece (2006)

Hungary (2005)

Romania (2004)

Ukraine (2004)

Iceland (2003)

Turkmenistan (2002)

Germany (2000)

Israel (2000)

Bulgaria (2000)

Croatia (1999)

Latvia (1998)

Denmark (1997)

Cyprus (1994)

Austria (1989)

Norway (1987)

Finland (1983)

Sweden (1979)

Related Stories: Ireland Becomes 47th Country to Ban Corporal Punishment

The 51 Countries That Have Banned Corporal Punishment