Pay now, or pay later: Annual day on the rights of the child

Date: 10th March 2015
Category: Child poverty

"Are we going to pay now upfront, or are we going to pay much more later?" said Jane Connors, development expert at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in the opening speech of the Human Rights Council's annual day on the rights of the child.

Noting both the economic and ethical consequences of failing to adequately invest in children's rights, Ms Connors alluded to States' obligation to follow talk with action, emphasising that we need to "[p]ut our budgets where our commitments are".

During the day of discussion, speakers emphasised that social investment in children must be protected, including in difficult economic situations. It had to be guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), had to be visible and identifiable, and had to take into account the needs of vulnerable children. Investment in children was decisive in breaking intergenerational cycles of poverty. It could not be focused purely on one sector, but must encompass health, education, sexual and reproductive rights and others.

During the day, governments were urged to change attitudes and strengthen the transparency of their policies on children. In that respect it was important to note that corruption and tax evasion had a negative impact upon the fulfilment of the rights of children. The resources allocated to improving the living conditions of children would lead to a more egalitarian and developed society.

The Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) delivered a statement towards the start of the discussion day, highlighting that more work is needed to protect the human rights of children in Scotland.

Speakers concluded that investment in the rights of the child was more than just a matter of public spending. It also had to consider other dimensions, such as the impact of armed conflict, climate change, food security and global inequalities.