About the Conference

*Check out our  web story ! 

2023 marks the 40th anniversary of Child Rights Connect, celebrating 40 years of coordinated global civil society advocacy in Geneva for child rights. It also marks 25 years since adoption of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and 75 years since adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Yet, across the globe, these celebrations coincide with attacks on democracy, shrinking civil society space and an unprecedent backlash against universal human rights, undermining the freedom, safety and action of those defending human rights. Child rights, their defenders (including child human rights defenders), and the larger child rights movement are not spared.

For the purpose of developing a strategy for the child rights movement, including children, to effectively counter anti-child rights rhetoric and respond to challenges faced by the movement, experts and practitioners convened with children, key States and the public at a conference hosted in Geneva (in hybrid format) on Friday 26 May 2023.

Recognising its importance, the conference was part of the formal programme of work of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child during the last day of its 93rd session in Geneva. Child advisors of the CRCnct Children’s Advisory Team also attended.

Conference programme

The conference centred around two plenary high-level panels: the first considering the context and challenges faced by the child rights movement and child human rights defenders; and the second looking at potential responses through UN mechanisms and agencies.

The morning plenary was proceeded by a dialogue with representatives of the Child Rights Connect Children’s Advisory Team, which was selected as ‘Changemakers’ by World Vision International. The afternoon plenary was proceeded by a keynote address from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Each plenary session was followed by parallel working sessions on key thematic issues, aimed at identifying elements for the subsequent development of a global strategy to counter anti-child rights rhetoric through changing the narrative around the role and impact of the child rights movement.

Please access our digital conference pack, which includes the conference programme and the interventions from our speakers (audio-visual and written). In line with our environmental policy (under development), the conference was a paperless event. This virtual treasure chest of fascinating discussions and memorable moments. Within its digital pages, you’ll discover an impressive lineup of panelists, ranging from luminaries like Ann Skelton,Volker Türk , Mary Lawlor, and Catherine Russel to brilliant and dedicated child advisors from around the world.

Inside the conference pack, you’ll discover a wealth of engaging speeches and interventions by our panelists. This is where you can relive thought-provoking moments and gain valuable insights that shaped our 40th Anniversary Conference. This will be the essential resource for accessing the conference program and experiencing the core of our event.


Next steps and follow-up

On our News webpagea dedicated web story highlighting the strong moments and statements of the day is now available to read!

All parts of the conference were recorded, with recordings available on this webpage.

The Child Rights Connect Secretariat intends to use these to help it draw key findings and recommendations from the conference so that these can be used to strengthen on-going advocacy as well as to identify potential global responses to the challenges being faced by the child rights movement and child human rights defenders. In turn, this will inform development of the Strategic Plan for 2025-2029 for the Child Rights Connect network, which will be considered for adoption at the organisation’s General Assembly in mid-2024. Conference discussions may also inform the contribution of Child Rights Connect to the Human Rights 75 Initiative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which will affirm the need to put children’s rights at the core of any new vision for the future of human rights.

Do not hesitate to contact the secretariat at secretariat@childrightsconnect.org if you have any questions.