Alana’s international agenda at the UN reaffirms their commitment to a world where children from Brazil and the Global South are protected, heard, and have their rights respected
75% of the world’s children live in the Global South, underlying the necessity of considering their unique circumstances and concerns in decision-making spaces. In response to this need, Alana attended international advocacy meetings at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, from May 18 to 26, 2023, promoting the rights of children and adolescents.
The children of the Global South, including Brazil, are on the frontline of the climate crisis, suffering its earliest and most severe impacts. According to UNICEF, nine out of ten children in Latin America and the Caribbean are exposed to at least two climate and environmental shocks, such as cyclones and heatwaves. They are also disproportionately affected by social, educational, and economic disparities that violate their fundamental rights, which must be guaranteed with absolute priority. Children in the Global South not only bear the brunt of these challenges but also offer distinct and innovative perspectives. They should be recognized as catalysts for change, instrumental in crafting solutions.
“As a Brazilian civil society organization with consultative status in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), our presence at the UN headquarters in Geneva allows Alana to reinforce its influence within the international community and contribute to the global guarantee of children and adolescents’ rights,” says Letícia Carvalho, a lawyer and international advisor at Alana.
The agenda in Geneva was driven by the 40th anniversary celebration for Child Rights Connect, the world’s largest network of organizations working for children’s rights. Alana is the only Brazilian civil society organization participating in this group.
The event focused on the transformative power of children in championing their own rights and featured attendees such as UN High Commissioner Volker Türk, members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and Brazilian teenage activist Catarina Lorenzo, who serves on the Child Advisory Team, a group of children and adolescents consulting for the network.
Geneva is also the venue for meetings of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, where independent experts review the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by states. The treaty has been ratified by 196 countries, including Brazil, and is the most widely accepted human rights instrument in history. The United States is the only country that has not committed to its terms.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child also develops general comments to broaden understanding of the Convention, addressing specific topics and detailing practical application of the treaty. This year, the Committee will release General Comment No. 26, focusing on children’s rights and the environment, with a special focus on climate change.
In a meeting with Ann Skelton, who assumed the Committee’s presidency for the next two years, Alana reiterated the importance of ensuring that the rights of children most vulnerable to the impacts of the climate emergency are reflected in the comment. Alana initially presented this perspective at the regional Latin American debate, held in Buenos Aires in 2022, earlier in the process of drafting the comment.
“Our participation in this international forum was an essential step for us to realize the full potential of advocating for the protection and guarantee of children and adolescents’ rights. This should be an absolute priority globally, with special consideration for the unique perspective of the Global South,” added Letícia Carvalho.