Current issues

Read about UNICEF’s position on current issues affecting children

Prevention and response to sexual exploitation and abuse and harrasment
UNICEF is committed to preventing and responding to sexual exploitation and abuse. Child safeguarding, including preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, is an issue at the core of our programmes for children and at the top of UNICEF’s agenda...

Ending violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people
United Nations entities call on States to act urgently to end violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) adults, adolescents and children...

UNICEF and global partners define an orphan as a child who has lost one or both parents. By this definition, there were nearly 140 million orphans globally in 2015, including 61 million in Asia, 52 million in Africa, 10 million in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 7.3 million in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Intercountry adoption
Since the 1960s, there has been an increase in the number of inter-country adoptions. Concurrent with this trend, there have been growing... 

Ready-to-use therapeutic food for children with severe acute malnutrition

UNICEF supports community-based management of acute malnutrition with ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF). The organization is the primary global procurer of RUTF, therapeutic milk and other essential products for treating severe acute malnutrition, and also provides technical support to governments and non-governmental organizations on their application and use.

Arsenic contamination in groundwater

Dangerous levels of arsenic have been detected in the groundwater in at least 70 countries and could affect more than 140 million people. Arsenic contamination of drinking water is invisible, tasteless and odorless and the effects of ingestion are not apparent in the short term. Continued exposure to high levels of arsenic from drinking water and food can lead to arsenicosis, a painful and debilitating skin condition. It can also dramatically increase the risks of morbidity and mortality from cancers and heart, lung, kidney and liver diseases...

The rights to safe water and to sanitation

The human right to water and to sanitation constitutes the right of every individual, without discrimination, to sufficient, safe, acceptable, accessible and affordable water and sanitation for personal use. The world is still a long way from realizing this right for all: An estimated 2.5 billion people still lack improved sanitation facilities, and 768 million people still do not have access to an improved drinking water source.

Investment priorities for sanitation in rural area

Sanitation differs from many other spheres of development in that the primary barrier to success is often not the availability of adequate facilities, but rather the level of demand for improved sanitation practices. In rural communities where the practice of open defecation has long prevailed, investment priorities for sanitation must be applied with a view to ending this practice and fostering community demand for sanitation. This means investing primarily in people – helping to change behaviours and create social norms that prohibit open defecation – rather than just in sanitation equipment and infrastructure.

Eliminating discrimination against children and parents based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity

All children, irrespective of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, have the right to a safe and healthy childhood that is free from discrimination. The same principle applies to all children irrespective of their parents’ sexual orientation or gender identity. Both the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights make clear that human rights are universal. No person — child or adult — should suffer abuse, discrimination, exploitation, marginalization or violence of any kind for any reason, including on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Similarly, no person should be denied any of their universal human rights, freedoms and basic opportunities. 

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Executive Director

Learn more about Henrietta H. Fore, who became UNICEF's 7th Executive Director on January 1, 2018.