We welcome the UN Joint Commitment, released this month, to promote the right of children, youth and future generations to a healthy environment and their meaningful participation in decision-making at all levels, in relation to climate action and climate justice.
This Joint Commitment by Heads of United Nations Entities developed under the UN Secretary-General’s Call to Action for Human Rights is a landmark recognition that the UN has to do more to mainstream child rights, ensuring children’s participation in the definition, implementation and review of UN policies, and establish partnership and support for the initiatives of children in all their diversity, at all levels.
The UN Secretary-General’s Call to Action for Human Rights was an important first step to bring human rights at the center of UN responses and priorities, however, it fell short in integrating a child rights perspective. Children were only mentioned with regards to the rights of future generations and their right to be educated and get ready for the future. The Call to Action also failed to recognise the need for the UN to take all necessary measures to ensure children’s role in civic space and public participation.
The UN Joint Commitments completes the action area on “rights of future generations and climate justice” in the Call to Action. It responds to children’s worldwide mobilisation for climate justice and recognises this area as a key entry point for the UN to step up efforts to promote children’s rights and ensure their meaningful participation in the decision-making process at all levels.
As part of the action area on “public participation and civil space”, in September 2020, the UN also adopted a Guidance Note on Protecting and Promoting Civic Space which addresses some gaps with regards to the importance of diversity of civil society.
Both the UN Joint Commitment and the Guidance Note on Protecting and Promoting Civic Space are complementary and should be implemented together to mainstream child rights in the rollout of the Call to Action.
During the Human Rights Council 47th session, the United Nations Environment Programme expressed its dedication to implementing the Joint Commitment. We look forward to working with them and other Entities in the implementation of this commitment and the strengthening of child rights mainstreaming by the UN.