During a high-level UN event marking the 20th anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in December 2018, children were recognised as human rights defenders and there were calls to afford them additional and stronger support and protection, following our strong joint advocacy efforts with Save the Children and CIVICUS.

Building on the discussions and momentum of the 2018 Day of General Discussion, a joint briefing was developed to call on Member States and panel speakers to put a spotlight on children. Specifically, we campaigned for four key asks around the recognition, empowerment and protection of children human rights defenders. These key asks were based on the strong call made by children human rights defenders during the DGD, that to protect and nurture their ability to defend human rights, they must be empowered with knowledge about their rights, be safe and protected from reprisals, access meaningful and safe spaces to defend theirs and others rights, and for adults to listen to them and recognize their rights to be human rights defenders.

At the meeting, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, recognised children as human rights defenders, after committing to mainstreaming children throughout his mandate during the DGD. Hina Jilani reaffirmed children’s right to participation and association. Children were also mentioned by the delegation of Italy which called on them to be afforded additional support and much stronger protection.

It was the first time that children human rights defenders were explicitly recognised and calls for their protection and empowerment were raised, during a high-level plenary meeting at the General Assembly. It has helped to establish and build allies at all levels in order to raise awareness and understanding that the UN Declaration applies to ALL, and that this includes children!

  • The recording of the event can be found here.