Grave children’s rights violations are happening in Palestine

Date: 17th November 2023
Category: Violence against children

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child's statement on Palestine

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has called for “an end to the devastating harm being wreaked on children’s lives in the occupied Palestinian Territory” and for the prioritisation of children’s lives in armed conflict as required by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and humanitarian law.

According to the UN, half of the population of Gaza in the Occupied Territory of Palestine by Israel, are children. The continued airstrikes and blockade to humanitarian assistance in Gaza has resulted in the deaths of over 3,500 children since 7th  October 2023.

The UNCRC requires States Parties in armed conflict to ensure the highest level of protection for children. Article 28 says States parties and all actors are required to respect and ensure respect for the rules of international humanitarian law applicable in armed conflict with regard to children. According to the UNCRC and humanitarian law, under the fourth Geneva Convention, the Occupying Power in the Occupied Territory is obliged to prioritise the best interests of all children under its jurisdiction. The Geneva Convention also prohibits the taking of civilian hostages by Parties to the Conflict and prohibits the destruction of hospitals and shelters, and the blockading of humanitarian aid.

Recent airstrikes by the Israel Government targeting hospitals and schools in Gaza resulting in the death of babies and children, and the kidnapping of children by militant group Hamas, are outright violations of the UNCRC and humanitarian law and a disregard for children’s lives. Further, children in Gaza are being used by these Parties to the Conflict as political pawns in a bid to sway the public opinion on matters in the region.

In its most recent statement on the 1st November, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child condemned the escalation of attacks by the Israel Government against civilians in the Gaza Strip, calling out the grave violations of children’s rights and the need for an immediate ceasefire to protect civilians.

International child rights organisations have echoed similar calls for peace such as Eurochild calling for the EU to take immediate action to support access to humanitarian assistance and call for a ceasefire.  Child Rights Connect have also strongly condemned the violations of children’s rights in the context of armed conflict and are calling for a ceasefire and for civilian life to be prioritised with an open call petition.

In the UN Committee’s statement, it noted that “the ceasefire should be the beginning of discussions aimed at establishing a just and lasting peace in the region so that all children can fully enjoy all their rights and the conditions for their development that respond to their intrinsic dignity as human beings.”