Permanent Mission of Iceland, Geneva - 60 Session of the Commission on Human Rights
Statement by Mrs. Ingibjörg Davíðsdóttir, Member of the Delegation of Iceland
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention of the Rights of the Child by the United Nations General Assembly. The Convention has proven to be a powerful tool to further children’s rights in many parts of the world. However, we have a long journey ahead of us in ensuring the implementation of the basic principles and standards of the Convention.
This can only be accomplished by the active participation of the international community in promoting efforts to strengthen commitments toward this end. Iceland would like to support the calls by the EU and others to those states that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Optional Protocols of the Convention and to consider limiting the scope of their reservations to the Convention.
One of the most direct assaults on human rights is violence, be it physical or emotional. Violence gives birth to and perpetuates violence. By effectively protecting children from violence, whether it be armed conflict or interpersonal violence, violence within the family or extra familial violence, we are taking important steps towards securing human rights in the future. Protection of children from violence must therefore be a continuous focus of all efforts to secure human rights.
UNICEF has made a significant contribution to this effort. The publication last year of the UNICEF Innocenti Research Center on Child Maltreatment Deaths in Rich Nations revealed that almost 3 500 children under the age of 15 die from physical abuse and neglect every year among the 30 member states of the OECD.
These findings also show that the youngest children are at the greatest risk of death due to maltreatment. Most of these deaths are closely associated with poverty and stress along with drug and alcohol abuse. Only seven countries in this group currently have laws explicitly prohibiting physical punishment of children.
I would therefore like to thank the Secretary General and the independent expert Mr. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro for the progress report on the study on the question of violence against children. The aim of the independent expert to pay special attention to violence against children in the family is very encouraging. It is, however, important to keep in mind the unique role of the family.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child defines one of the fundamental rights of the child to “grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding”. The emphasis on the importance of the family when focusing on children at risk and in care is self-evident. We hope therefore that the study will stress the importance of preventative measures and assistance to families at risk.
Violence against children is one of the most abhorrent offences against human rights. In addition, its harmful effects on the youngest members of society must inevitably have a distorting effect on the society in which they will eventually become adults.