“Children live in a world that is increasingly hostile to their rights” by UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell

Join UNICEF's call for peace for every child everywhere

20 November 2023
World children's Day
UNICEF Bulgaria/2014/Nikolay Milanov

Sofia, 20 November 2023 – Today is World Children's Day. It is the day when we at UNICEF give every child a voice and remind ourselves that we, as adults, need to listen to children more. The day we remind children that they have the same rights as adults, it's just up to us to make sure they are respected. On today's day, iconic buildings around the world will be illuminated in blue, and traditionally in Bulgaria it will be the National Palace of Culture in Sofia.

Each year on November 20, we mark World Children’s Day to commemorate the 1989 adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) – the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history. By ratifying this international legal framework, world leaders acknowledged that all children have inalienable rights. And they promised that governments would ensure that those rights would be protected and upheld.

“Unfortunately, children today are living in a world that is increasingly hostile to their rights. said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell in a special statement on today's World Children's Day.

“Nowhere is this more obvious than in the experience of children impacted by conflicts.  We estimate that today, 400 million children – or about 1 child in every 5 – are living in or fleeing from conflict zones. Many are being injured, killed, or sexually violated. They are losing family members and friends. And some are being recruited and used by armed forces or groups. Many of them have been displaced multiple times, risking separation from their families, losing critical years of education, and fraying ties to their communities.  The United Nations has verified more than 315,000 grave child rights violations in areas under conflict between 2005 and 2022. And these are only the cases that have been verified which means the true number of violations is most certainly much higher.  Beyond conflict zones, children’s rights also are under threat. , added Catherine Russell. The full text of her statement can be found here.

UNICEF Bulgaria's national ambassadors - Vladimir Ampov - Grafa, Elena Petrova, Polly Genova and other popular advocates for the cause of children's rights such as Olympic gymnastics champion Madeleine Radukanova, actress Margarita Stoykova and TV host Marina Tsekova - released a video calling for the respect of children's basic and most important rights:

  • Every child has a right to an education, yet two-thirds of all ten-year-olds globally can’t read and understand a simple story. On World Children’s Day, let’s remind our leaders to provide children with the foundational learning they need for their futures.
  • The climate crisis is a child rights crisis, affecting the rights of children across all areas of their lives. On World Children’s Day, let’s listen to the calls of children and young people demanding climate action and justice prioritize their empowerment, protection and participation.
  • Every child has the right to the highest possible standards of health. On World Children’s Day, let’s remind our leaders to ensure access to health, nutrition and immunization services for every child.
  • A child’s right to health, includes their right to mental health support. On World Children’s Day, let’s take children’s experiences seriously, promote good mental health and break the stigma.
  • Children’s rights apply in all contexts, including during humanitarian crises. On World Children’s Day, let’s remind leaders to keep their commitments to the UNCRC including to protect the lives and wellbeing of every child.

#WCD #TogetherForEveryChild #ForEveryChildPeace

Media contacts

Boryana Gidikova
Communication Officer
UNICEF Bulgaria
Tel: +359 893 52 52 40


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

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