On World Children's Day UNICEF emphasizes on the urgency of upholding children's rights for recovery of Ukraine

20 November 2023

Kyiv, 20 November 2023: In a pivotal meeting on World Children's Day, key Ukrainian public figures and authorities including First Lady Olena Zelenska and representatives of the Government of Ukraine have highlighted that the duty of the state is to create the conditions required for  every child to grow up in a safe and caring family environment, with the help of the timely support of families and the development of family-based forms of care.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) invited six teenagers from different parts of Ukraine to share their stories. This group, which included children with disabilities, talked about their lives, challenges, achievements and experiences. Each narrative illustrated, among other things, the fundamental rights of children embodied in specific examples – from the right to have a safe and loving family to the dignified life and inclusion of children with disabilities.

“We have heard only a few stories, but they show that our children have to go through much more in comparison to children in Europe or the USA,” says First Lady Olena Zelenska. “They have to go through everything at once – war-related and personal challenges. However, most impressive is how they perceive these challenges. Not every adult could find such words. They say that even the negative experience they want to turn into a positive development. They know that every person with unrealized potential is a loss for the entire society. They are convinced that the world must see and tolerate diversity. Indeed, I would like everyone to have the same sense of dignity and respect. This respect and dignity begins with an understanding of the rights – your own rights as well as the rights of the others.”

According to a U-Report survey conducted by UNICEF, there is a concerning lack of awareness about the Convention on the Rights of the Child among Ukrainian youth. Over 35 per cent of children under 18 are not versed in the convention, although more than half express a desire to learn more about their rights. Additionally, 45.4 per cent of children report that the negative effects of the conflict have impacted their rights.

In a move to enhance the awareness and understanding of children's rights, and as part of the organisation’s mandate to uphold the rights of all children, UNICEF Ukraine has undertaken the task of revising and expanding the formats of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This initiative aims to make the Convention more accessible to children and parents across Ukraine.

Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Humanitarian Action and Supply Operations, stressed, "The cornerstone of protecting child rights lies in understanding them. In the ongoing war, it is more crucial than ever to protect the rights of children in Ukraine. Our goal is to ensure that every child and adult possesses knowledge about children's rights, can recognize violations of these rights, and understands the imperative for child protection. UNICEF, along with local and international partners, is dedicated to making this information accessible to all, especially children with special needs. When the rights of children are jeopardized, it is our collective duty to safeguard them. This remains our commitment to all children, including the 7.5 million children of Ukraine. By prioritizing children's rights in humanitarian response and recovery, we are constructing a more inclusive and better Ukraine for every child, where every day is World Children's Day." 

As part of continued efforts to emphasize the importance of raising awareness about children's rights and the need to protect them, UNICEF has created updated child-friendly versions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to enable as many Ukrainian children as possible to learn about their rights. The range of updated formats includes an audio book, a video version in sign language, and printed books in special fonts to facilitate reading for children with dyslexia and visual impairments. All versions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child will be accessible at the website.

About World Children's Day: Annually commemorated by UNICEF as a day 'for children, by children', this day, observed on 20 November, marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history. It is a day when children around the world, supported by UNICEF, actively participate in voicing their needs and concerns to decision-makers across various sectors, including politics, business, media, sports, and education, to ensure their rights are recognized and upheld. 

Media contacts

Damian Rance
Chief Advocacy and Communications
UNICEF Ukraine


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org  

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