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UNICEF Executive Board

At opening session of UNICEF Executive Board, child protection takes centre stage

In its first regular session of the year, the UNICEF Executive Board drew attention to the importance of child protection in the post-2015 development agenda.


By Kristin Taylor

NEW YORK, United States of America, 4 February 2014 – Today the UNICEF Executive Board opened its first regular session of 2014 by drawing particular attention to the importance of child protection, a foundation for the fulfilment of all child rights outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

During his opening statement to the Board, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said that no issue cuts as closely to the heart of children’s rights as protection.

“And yet, child protection issues were not part of the Millennium Development Goals – a serious omission,” Mr. Lake said. “Too many countries that have made progress in cutting child and infant mortality … in battling malnutrition and illiteracy … are still struggling to protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation.”

With the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) drawing closer, leaders are putting child protection in sharper focus as the world looks to define the post-2015 development agenda.

“Violence against children is a problem shared by whole societies – and the solutions must be shared, too,” said Mr. Lake, who also emphasized the role of partnerships and social movements in galvanizing support for child protection efforts.

“Social movements like the #ENDviolence campaign can help bring greater attention and broader support to the vital cause of child protection,” he said. “By raising awareness, this campaign is generating increased support for protecting vulnerable children – shining a light on this too-often hidden issue … making the invisible ‘visible.’”

© UNICEF/2014/Susan Markisz
H.E. Mr. Macharia Kamau, UNICEF Executive Board President and Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations, is stamped with the #ENDviolence hashtag in support of the End Violence Against Children initiative during the first regular session of the 2014 UNICEF Executive Board.

He called on board members to support the UNICEF-led #ENDviolence social media campaign.

The governing body of UNICEF

The first regular session of the Executive Board, which runs through 7 February, is the first of three board meetings held each calendar year; the mid-year annual session is followed by a second regular session in September.

Agenda items and highlighted themes vary from one session to the next, but each meeting provides an opportunity for delegates to confer on a broad range of issues related to children’s rights and child survival and well-being.

Established in conjunction with the founding of UNICEF in 1946, the Executive Board is the organization’s governing body, and it plays a critical role in guiding UNICEF’s work as a champion of child rights. As the scope of UNICEF’s work has expanded from that of its original mandate – to meet the health needs of children in countries devastated by the Second World War – the underlying responsibilities of the Board have grown as well.

The Board comprises 36 Member States of the United Nations, elected to three-year terms from across the five UN regional groups: Africa; Asia; Eastern Europe; Latin America and the Caribbean; and Western Europe and Other States. Board members have a unique perspective from which to advocate for relevant, globally minded change in UNICEF’s programming; in turn, they also champion the work of UNICEF within the international community.

The Bureau: Coordinating the work of the Board

The work of the Board is coordinated by its five officers – a President and four Vice-Presidents, collectively known as the Bureau. Elected annually, the officers represent the five UN regional groups, with the presidency rotating among the groups.

This year’s Bureau, elected on 8 January, comprises Board President Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations, as well as H.E. Mr. Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations; H.E. Mr. Denis Régis, Permanent Representative of Haiti to the United Nations; H.E. Mr. Stephan Tafrov, Permanent Representative of Bulgaria to the United Nations; and H.E. Mr. Masood Khan Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations.

“This is a critical juncture in our work for children: the final period of achieving the MDGs and the lead-up to the post-2015 agenda,” said President Kamau. “Let us work together – using our considerable influence [as] decision-makers and spokespersons – to strive to create a world where every child is reached with the benefits society has to offer.”

Those efforts will continue in the coming days as board members discuss the programmes, goals, fundraising and partnerships that will carry UNICEF towards 2015 – and beyond.



UNICEF Photography: UNICEF’s Executive Board

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