Children’s rights and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda

Two children in a Bronx school in New York solidify their friendship. © UN Photo/Marcia Weistein The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda embodies the highest aspirations for a bright future for the world’s children, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a crucial opportunity to realize their rights in all countries. Children are the main future beneficiaries of this Agenda, and fulfilling their rights by reaching those who are the furthest behind is a prerequisite for achieving the SDGs overall.

In spite of near-universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, millions of children around the world continue to be left behind and their rights denied, particularly those who are the most discriminated against or living in precarious situations of vulnerability – such as children on the streets, in institutions or in migration situations. Children also suffer the impacts of poverty, violence, inequality and exclusion disproportionately, due to their sensitive phase of life and development.

An approach to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in which children’s rights and wellbeing are placed front and center is not only a human rights imperative, but can catalyse sustainable development by breaking down the transfer of poverty and exclusion from one generation to the next. As such, progress can be accelerated by prioritizing children’s rights in action plans on the SDGs, as a child rights-based approach multiplies future development gains.

Child Rights Reports to global reviews of progress on the SDGs

Following a full-day meeting of the Human Rights Council to explore how the 2030 Agenda can help to advance children’s rights, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was requested to provide inputs on this matter to the global reviews of progress taking place under the High Level Political Forum, in broad consultation with stakeholders (HRC resolution 37/20).

The High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) is the global body tasked with reviewing progress on the SDGs convened annually in New York under the UN Economic and Social Council. It conducts a review of progress and challenges on the basis of Voluntary National Reviews and extensive stakeholder inputs, focusing on a different theme and set of goals each year. 

In 2019 the High Level Political Forum undertook its review on the theme of “empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”. It is also the year that marks the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, presenting a key moment to renew commitment and actions towards realizing the rights of children in all countries.

In this context, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights submitted a Child Rights Report to the HLPF, based on broad consultation, including with children themselves. The report highlights the human rights risks and challenges that children face in the theme and goals under review, as well as good practices that can be applied at national level to leave no child behind.

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