Child Protection


UNICEF in action: Strategy & priorities

Birth registration

Violence against children

Justice for children

Child labour and commercial sexual exploitation

Children on the move

Protection and care for children affected by HIV/AIDS

Results for children


UNICEF in action: Strategy & priorities

© UNICEF/NYHQ2007-0049/Kamber
Girls attend a class at a UNICEF-supported school in Mogadishu, Somalia.

The UNICEF vision and approach is to create a protective environment, where girls and boys are free from violence and exploitation, where laws and practices minimize children’s vulnerability and address known risk factors, and where children themselves are equipped to build their own resilience.

A protective environment is one in which everyone – including health workers, governments and the private sector, as well as children themselves – lives up to his or her responsibilities to ensure that children are protected from abuse and exploitation. UNICEF works with governments, communities, families, children and other partners to prevent violence, exploitation and abuse and, where these violations happen, to ensure an adequate response.

UNICEF has identified a series of strategic priorities to accelerate action for the protection of children. These priorities reflect the shift from issue-oriented projects to a more upstream, systemic approach that addresses both prevention and response to the challenges involved. These priorities include:

  • Building national child protection systems
  • Strengthening evidence-building and knowledge management
  • Addressing cultural values and supporting social change
  • Enhancing child protection in conflict and natural disasters

© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-1924/Pirozzi
An orphan hides behind her toy at a centre for vulnerable children and children affected by HIV/AIDS in Mbabane, Swaziland.

In Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA), UNICEF promotes this vision in collaboration with the national legislatures and law enforcement agencies in all 20 countries. Programmes include:

Justice for Children: A legislative framework that is in line with the CRC and international standards is the starting point for ensuring that children and women are protected from violence, abuse and exploitation. Justice procedures need to be child-friendly and gender-appropriate. UNICEF supports governments to reform law enforcement and establish child-friendly justice systems for all children who are in contact with the law, whether they are victims, witnesses or offenders.

Birth registration: UNICEF is working with governments in ESA to achieve universal birth registration and a more strengthened civil registration system so that every child is recognized as a person under the law, and can access essential social services such as education, healthcare and protection.

Violence, social and gender norms: UNICEF supports evidence-based advocacy and communication for development strategies that challenge gender and social norms that contribute to violence against children. Generating evidence for programming and supporting best practice in prevention and care and support for those who are harmed are also key areas of UNICEF involvement.

Child labour and sexual exploitation: UNICEF works closely with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union to address child labour and sexual exploitation issues.



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