GENEVA, 19 November 2019. The first ever global study focusing on the role of religious leaders and religious communities in promoting children’s rights was launched today in Geneva to honor the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
The study “Faith and Children’s Rights” was developed by Arigatou International, in close collaboration with UNICEF, the former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children, the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) with the support of the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) and World Vision International.
The study is intended as a resource to support the efforts of religious leaders and religious communities to expand their advocacy and action, mobilise new partners and further engage their own faith communities to protect children from violence and promote their healthy development.
It provides perspectives from seven religious traditions: the Bahá’í Faith, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and the Sikhism. In total, these traditions have more than 5.5 billion adherents globally.
The study highlights the often-significant role that diverse communities of the world’s faith traditions have played in the preparation, adoption, ratification and implementation of the CRC over the past three decades. It recognises innovative work and good practices carried out every day to further children’s rights and contribute to child protection by religious groups. It also contains new ideas for collaboration and recommendations for further action by all stakeholders, including fostering interreligious dialogue as a way to facilitate the protection and promotion of children rights.
Religious leaders and faith-based organizations are in a unique position to champion children’s rights, asserting their moral authority to make a difference in children’s lives. They command extraordinary influence and often serve as role models of compassion, solidarity and justice. They help to bridge differences, foster dialogue, and influence positive social and behavioral change, according to Arigatou International.
At the same time, around the globe today and throughout history, there are and have been harmful practices and actions among religious communities that are inconsistent with both the fundamental values of the world’s major religions and children’s rights. No religious teaching or tradition condones or justifies any form of violence against children, the NGO says.
The far-reaching influence of religious leaders and faith-based organizations is especially important as we address sensitive social and cultural norms that deny children their rights, it concludes.