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UNICEF Executive Board

UNICEF Executive Board: Taking stock of progress for children in 2018

© UNICEF video


NEW YORK, United States of America, 12 June 2019 – The UNICEF Executive Board kicked off its 2019 Annual Session at United Nations Headquarters in New York yesterday. The session was opened by H.E. Mr. Omar Hilale, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Morocco, and marked his first formal session as President of the UNICEF Executive Board.

“Together, we can be enormously proud of the results we have achieved — the children and young people whose lives have been improved and saved ─ the partners, resources, supporters and dedicated staff members we continue to gather around our cause ─ and the values we have worked to uphold,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore, as she presented her annual report for 2018. The report is the first issued by UNICEF since the start of its Strategic Plan, 2018–2021, which was approved by the Executive Board in September 2017.

The year 2019 is particularly meaningful for the organization and “for our common cause” as Executive Director Fore remarked. It marks the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – the milestone document that has helped to transform the lives of millions of children around the world.

© UNICEF/UN0272231/Campeanu
Kaku is feeding her daughter Elizabeth at Al Sabah Children's Hospital in Juba, South Sudan.

Results for children

Executive Director Fore emphasized the picture of progress and potential that the report paints for children and young people. From child survival to improved nutrition, 2018 witnessed a continuation of the improvements in many aspects of child well-being. Some highlights include:

  • In 2018, UNICEF provided life-saving treatment to 4.1 million children with severe acute malnutrition; and provided over 255 million children with vitamin A supplementation.
  • Nearly 19 million people gained access to safe water and nearly 11 million gained access to basic sanitation services.
  • UNICEF-supported programmes enabled nearly 12 million out-of-school children to participate in education, including in humanitarian contexts.
  • The births of over 16 million children were registered; nearly 5 million adolescent girls received prevention and care interventions to address child marriage, while nearly 100,000 girls benefited from prevention and protection services relating to female genital mutilation.

    The 2018 Global Annual Results Reports provide additional results.

Delegations expressed their support for the results highlighted in the annual report, with some recognizing widespread efforts by UNICEF to make global improvements under the Strategic Plan, and others welcoming that the report highlighted the key challenges in doing so and, ultimately, in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Yet, some delegations expressed concerns that, in spite of these successes, global progress has been uneven and much remains to be done.

Some delegations expressed their satisfaction with the increase in regular resource income as a proportion of total revenue with recognition that these resources facilitate long-term planning, translate into core activities and provide greater flexibility to respond to new challenges.

© UNICEF/UN0216570/LeMoyne
A child washes his hands with safe water from a UNICEF tank in a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh.

Responding to humanitarian crises

UNICEF continued to lead/co-lead the global humanitarian response in nutrition, education and water, sanitation and hygiene to provide life-saving services for children in 2018.

In 2018, UNICEF responded to 285 new and ongoing humanitarian situations in 90 countries. In humanitarian settings, UNICEF reached more than 43 million people with access to safe water; nearly 20 million children were vaccinated against measles; over 7 million children benefited from cash assistance; and nearly 7 million children gained access to some form of education.

Working in humanitarian settings requires flexible funding on the humanitarian-development continuum to sustain development gains. As Executive Director Fore underlined in her opening remarks, "For children and young people in every context — humanitarian and development alike — this stable and flexible funding can often mean the difference between illness and health, education and ignorance, protection and danger, and even life and death."

Making tangible progress towards gender equality

This year saw the release of the annual report on the implementation of the UNICEF Gender Action Plan, 2018─2021 ─ the organization’s road map for promoting gender equality throughout its work.

Important advances have been made in mainstreaming gender in country programmes, including the issuance of comprehensive guidance on integrating gender analysis into planning cycles, as well as expanding gender capacity through GenderPro ─ the UNICEF gender capacity development and credentialing programme.

In June 2018, UNICEF earned the second-highest level of the Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) Certification, the leading certification standard for gender equality. A key outcome of the EDGE assessment is an action plan for providing more flexible working arrangements, conducting yearly gender pay-gap assessments, and improving communication around the recruitment and promotion process.

© UNICEF/UN0237897/Garten, UN Photo
The Generation Unlimited Partnership launch at the United Nations Headquarters in September 2018 as part of a high-level event on Youth2030.

Looking ahead

“Great progress has been made in fulfilling the rights set out in the Convention [on the Rights of the Child]. However, there is still a lot of work to be done. Millions of children around the world still face inequity and discrimination. Millions are growing up in poverty and are forced to leave their homes, fleeing wars, armed conflict, natural disasters, violence, hunger and other humanitarian emergencies… Indeed, for too many, the basic rights of childhood are distant dreams,” said Ambassador Hilale.

Yet, UNICEF’s strong ties with its sister UN agencies and work with host Governments and donor partners were recognized as instrumental in its ability to achieve results for children. UNICEF has a commendable track record in building partnerships of all kinds, as Ambassador Hilale remarked. Generation Unlimited, which UNICEF helped to launch in 2018, is one such example: a global partnership that brings together the private and public sectors, civil society and young people to co-create large-scale breakthroughs to secure a better future for the world’s 1.8 billion young people.

Tackling the most pressing challenges that affect women and children globally requires concerted action across the UN system. “A strong and accountable development system paves the way to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, our road map to making the world more equitable, sustainable and liveable for all. It is our responsibility to embrace the change necessary to ease the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to secure a better future for the world’s children,” said Ambassador Hilale. “All that we do is done with a mindset of leaving no child behind,” he added.

With the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, this reminder is more relevant than ever ─ to make sure that every child has every right.


The Annual Session of the Executive Board will continue through Thursday 13 June. During the session, the Member States will deliberate on a total of 10 draft decisions, with topics including several annual reports, the working methods of the Executive Board; repositioning of the United Nations development system; and evaluation items.



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