Thank you, Mr. Chair,
It is an honour for me to take the floor on behalf of Iceland, and, as an Icelandic Youth Delegate, to have the chance to represent Iceland’s young people, youth and children.
The global state of the human rights of children and youth is of great concern. During times of increased instability, civil conflicts and territorial wars, it is clear that children are at higher risk of trafficking and abuse, and their health and well-being are endangered as they are displaced or forced to flee their homes.
Also, children and youth are facing more violent natural disasters than ever before caused by the climate crisis, leading to displacement and other serious adverse impacts on children’s lives.
Armed conflict and the climate crisis pose the highest risk to human rights today, in particular human rights of children, youth and the rights of the future generations.
While the world’s nations fall short in their response, the adverse impacts of armed conflicts and climate change only increase. To consistently promote the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states must dare to take drastic measures required to sustain our planet.
Facing a climate emergency, children and youth, who stand to inherit broken eco-systems, have been leading the path in demanding action. Their fight is in the interest of you, me, themselves and future generations. Environmental human rights defenders must be protected, and their strenuous efforts acknowledged, in particular the children and young people paving the way forward, who now face backlash for their efforts trying to better the world.
Young people are calling on Governments to act on the human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, which was recently adopted by the General Assembly. We need to act immediately if we want to ensure a clean, healthy and sustainable environment for children and the future generations to come. We are, simply speaking, running out of time.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had negative impact on the education and social interaction of children and youth that we must address.
The Icelandic government decided early on in the pandemic to not impose lockdowns on pre-schools and compulsory schools with the aim to minimize the disruption in children’s education and socialization in these hugely important formative years.
However, the impact of the pandemic on children and youth’s lives and health is evident. Many lost their loved ones, providers, and caregivers in the pandemic. Increased numbers of reported cases show that children were more exposed to domestic violence during lockdowns. They must be provided with resources to recover from the trauma of the pandemic.
Iceland promotes multi-agency and child-friendly approaches to child protective services. A new policy and action plan on a Child-Friendly Iceland was adopted last year. It aims to ensure a comprehensive implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including through strengthened child participation, child impact assessments, child-friendly budgeting, increased collection of data, and education on children’s rights at all school levels and throughout society.
Iceland has also undertaken an extensive revision of laws and policies on services for children, including a new Act on the Integration of Services in the Interest of Children’s Prosperity. We also plan to create an integral policy on matters concerning children, based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international obligations.
We also have a child friendly agency in Iceland with a comprehensive and evidence-based approach to deal with cases of child abuse and providing appropriate support and treatment to children who fall victim to abuse. This model, called Barnahús or
Children’s house, developed in Iceland for over twenty years has also been established in over twenty countries.
Furthermore, Iceland has revised its children protection system to provide a comprehensive approach via multi-agency cooperation to appropriately respond to notifications and cases of child abuse.
Iceland is firmly committed to end all violence against children. Iceland will continue to support UNICEF and UNFPA programmes to accelerate global actions to end child, early and forced marriages and female genital mutilation. It is imperative to empower girls all over the world, support and enable them to prosper, this includes ensuring sexual and reproductive health rights and services for youth, comprehensive sexuality education and to protect the right to bodily autonomy, privacy and self-determination.
I thank you Mr. Chair.