Street children directly address the UN Human Rights Council

Published 04/26/2021 By CSC Staff

CSC was delighted to support two children supported by our network to directly address the UN’s Human Rights Council in March, in a milestone event.

Every year, the Human Rights Council – the UN’s main and most senior human rights body – holds a special event to focus on child rights, called an ‘Annual Discussion on the Rights of the Child’ (ADRC): this year, the theme of the day was ‘child rights and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’.

The SDGs are a set of 17 global targets, designed to help countries work towards a better and fairer future for everyone. They include things like ‘Zero Hunger’, ‘Good Health and Hygiene’, and ‘Gender Equality’. They are – of course – very important for children in street situations, especially as one of the core principles of the SDGs is the mantra, ‘Leave No-One Behind’.

That’s why, in the run-up to this year’s ADRC, CSC worked with a group of other NGOs to prepare consultation tools, for organisations who work with children to deliver sessions aimed at helping children explore their thoughts on child rights and the SDGs. Several members of CSC’s network took place in these consultations, sharing powerful ideas about what action is needed to ensure that the goals are met for children in street situations, and non-one is left behind.

Children who had taken part in these consultations were then invited to nominate one of their peers to be a panellist during the ADRC itself: CSC was delighted to learn that Fred, supported by network member Save Street Children Uganda, had been selected to take part in one of these panels! Fred spoke via video link alongside a range of high-profile figures, including the Executive Director of UNICEF, directly addressing States. He shared key messages on behalf of his peers, and his words were echoed by his fellow panellists.

Watch Fred’s speech to the UN HRC

The excitement of the day didn’t end there, as during the second panel CSC was delighted to support a second child supported by our network to directly address the Human Rights Council, by speaking ‘from the floor’. This time, it was Ishika supported by CINI in India who delivered a powerful video message, saying ‘I’m glad that my voice can reach out to so many of you, and I’m speaking on behalf of millions of children whose voices are unheard.’ She delivered a strong call UN Member States, as she said ‘I am urging the world leaders to come up with the solutions so that we can access food, healthcare and shelters from anywhere in my country. Only then can we claim that we have reduced inequalities in our world.’

Watch Ishika’s video message 

In India, Ishika’s friends and family gathered at CINI to watch her speak: her mother, who raised Ishika and her siblings on the street for over a decade, said ‘It is a moment of hope. Ishika speaks for her sister and all the other children like them who are invisible to most of the people in the world.’

CSC is proud to have been able to support two strong advocates for the rights of children in street situations all over the world to address the Human Rights Council directly in this long overdue milestone, and looks forward to continuing to build upon this work.