Unification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child & the UN 2030 Agenda 70/1 for Sustainable Development
Report prepared by the European Link Coalition
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child – Protection of Children from Experiencing Violent Animal Abuse
Following the 87th Session of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, a recommendation was made by the UN Committee advising Tunisia about the effects on children exposed to societal violence against animals. The responsibility of the UN Committee is to ensure compliance of all nations which have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. CRC/C/TUN/CO/4-6 16.c
Best interests of the child
16. Recalling its general comment No. 14 (2013) on the right of the child to have his or her best interests taken as a primary consideration and its previous recommendations, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Ensure that the principle of the best interests of the child is consistently applied in all administrative and judicial proceedings, as well as in policies, programs and projects that are relevant to, and have an impact on, children;
(b) Finalize the procedure, with a clear set of criteria, to provide guidance to all relevant persons in authority for determining the best interests of the child in every area and for giving it due weight as a primary consideration;
(c) Evaluate and eliminate, on the basis of the procedure and criteria described above, practices, policies and services that may not be in the best interests of the child, including those relating to societal violence against animals.
Reference to General Comment No 14 (2013) on the right of the child to have his or her best interests taken as a primary consideration, including practices, policies & services which may not be in the best interests of the child, including those relating to societal violence against animals.
The main purpose of a General Comment is to promote implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child & assist States Parties in fulfilling their reporting obligations.
General Comments provide an authoritative interpretation of the rights contained in the articles & provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
General Comments are seen as a valuable contribution to the development & application of international law.
Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states the following:
“1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.
UN General Comment 13 states :
Legal analysis of article 19, paragraph 1
1. “… all forms of ...” No exceptions. The Committee has consistently maintained the position that all forms of violence against children, however light, are unacceptable. “All forms of physical or mental violence” does not leave room for any level of legalized violence against children. Frequency, severity of harm and intent to harm are not prerequisites for the definitions of violence. States parties may refer to such factors in intervention strategies in order to allow proportional responses in the best interests of the child, but definitions must in no way erode the child’s absolute right to human dignity and physical and psychological integrity by describing some forms of violence as legally and/or socially acceptable.
3. “shall take …” 37. “Shall take” is a term which leaves no leeway for the discretion of States parties. Accordingly, States parties are under strict obligation to undertake “all appropriate measures” to fully implement this right for all children
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, or UNCRC, is the basis of all of UNICEF’s work. It is the most complete statement of children’s rights ever produced and is the most widely-ratified international human rights treaty in history.
There are many nations where children must witness extensive public violent abuse of animals. Violence which takes various forms, in diverse societies & cultures, but with one commonality…its effects on children !
By addressing effects on children caused by exposure to animal abuse in diverse forms, implicit is the recognition that children are affected by experiencing violence because of empathetic connections with the sentience of an animal. As newly attested by UN Committee, this is independent of species.
With children having natural empathic regard for other sentient beings, violence exposure has been shown to potentially cause 'Harmful Effects' to the child. These can include an erosion of affective empathy & a normalisation of violence which may be taken into adulthood with violence enacted against individuals & society.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
is the global development network of the United Nations. It promotes technical and investment cooperation among nations and advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life for themselves.The organisation operates to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
On March 2 2022, United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) adopted the Animal Welfare Environment – Sustainable Development Nexus resolution.
This pioneering and historic resolution recognizing the link between animal welfare, environment, and sustainable development, was adopted with the overwhelming support of all Member States, at UNEA 5.2
This resolution matters. The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Agenda set out in UN General Assembly Resolution 70/1 envisaged a world in which “humanity lives in harmony with nature and in which wildlife and other living species are protected”.
UN 2030 Agenda statements mirror closely what the UN Committee on the |Rights of the Child has already said.
2030 Agenda Introduction Point 8
We envisage a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity, the rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination. A world which invests in its children and in which every child grows up free from violence and exploitation.
The UNCRC have said witnessing 'societal violence against animals' has a harmful affect on the child and is against their rights.
2030 Agenda Introduction Point 9
' We envisage a world in which every country enjoys sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and decent work for all. One in which democracy, good governance and the rule of law as well as an enabling environment at national and international levels, are essential for sustainable development, including sustained and inclusive economic growth, social development, environmental protection and the eradication of poverty and hunger. One in which humanity lives in harmony with nature and in which wildlife and other living species are protected. '
This paragraph talks about respecting other living species, and living in harmony with nature and giving protection to animals. It also talks about respecting laws and norms at international levels.
How the SDGs can be used to assist the UN CRC protect the child and their rights by protecting animals from societal violence.
Goal 3 – Health and Wellbeing
UNCRC say the mental health and well being of children is affected by witnessing violence against homeless animals. During the violent culls by government contractors, children witness dogs being shot, poisoned, beaten. Not all dogs die quickly, many are left to die slowly on the streets. The children's mental health and general well being will be affected especially if the children have formed relationships with local dogs who they had previously been feeding and playing with. This is now recognised by UNCRC. Similarly children exposed to the violence of bullfighting. Implicit in UNCRC recommendations is a recognition that children can be 'harmfully affected, because ofa child's natural empathetic connection with the sentience of an animal, independent of species.
Goal 4 – Quality Education
Homeless animals are treated like vermin by many governments. There are often no laws to protect them from abuse. When children grow up seeing dogs kicked and beaten on the street, abused by adults, then the children grow up to do the same. This is mis-education. This is teaching children that stray dogs are vermin. It is academically and empirically evidenced that this creates a normalisation of violence and displaced aggression. This is not in line with the teachings of the UN holistic agenda or 2030 Agenda introduction point 9 above.
SDG 15 – Life on Land
As the UN 2030 Agenda says, all living species should be protected. The UN also states that no matter how ' low' the value of animal, they all require the same protection. Extensive homeless animal populations have been shown to invite violent practices both from government management programs & from society where social status of animals is diminished. This is not what the UN ethos imagines for any animal. Again please note 2030 Agenda introduction point 9 above. Similarly, UNCRC addressing 'societal violence against animals' because of effects on the child is implicit within the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development. With a rationale to protect the future of our planet and the future custodians will be the children, it is essential to ensure that the child is protected from 'harmful effects, including those caused by experiencing violent practices against animals, which may cause aberations to their mental health.
SDG 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
A society where the cries of stray dogs being abused by gangs of youth can be heard, is not a peaceful society. Worse still is the injustice caused by government workers during their mass culls. Small children will notice the injustice when they see a local dog they have formed a relationship with, lying on the ground dying in a pool of blood. They will notice the injustice of a dead mother dog who has been shot in the head, her blood cold, while her puppies still suckle on her. In light of the UN's new agenda, strong institutions and effective governments are those that follow and respect international guidelines (in this case, the guidelines already produced by OIE and WHO on humane management of stray dogs). (And in the case of Tunisia, the UN CRC have already produced further guidelines for the government to follow on humane stray dog management, to protect the child from violence).
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals
This goal aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, and provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. To protect the child from witnessing stray dog abuse, partnerships should be formed. The UN CRC has already formed partnerships with animal rights groups in this matter. We hope UNDP can form a partnership with the Governments and with the UN CRC regarding stray dogs and the Rights of The Child. (UNDP Bosnia in the past have assisted the Bosnia Government with stray dogs). As recommended by WHO, OIE & FVE, humane neutering programs provide the only effective way of reducing homeless animal populations & also protect children from experiencing potentially life changing effects from witnessing violent practices conducted against animals.
Recent recommendations made by the Committee about the effects on children exposed to ‘societal violence against animals’. Such effects have been identified as including a progressive erosion of empathy & a normalisation of violence which has been shown to present the possibility of later violence enacted in the form of domestic violence or child abuse.
UN Committee recommendations have been made about children exposed to bullfighting & violent practices against homeless animals. Implicit in these recommendations is that independent of species, children are affected because of their natural empathetic connections with other sentient beings. Essentially, although violent public animal abuse takes place in many forms, in diverse societies & cultures, the singular commonality is its ‘Harmful Effects’ on the children. Such diversity is exemplified in this video. https://animoto.com/play/oaHnPLm5cFzmQ0EL2I0qeQ
Freedom of the child from all forms of violence
27. The Committee recommends that the State party set the minimum age for participation in and assisting at bullfighting and bull-running events, including in bullfighting schools, at 18 years, without exception, and raise awareness among State officials, the media and the general population about the negative effects on children, including as spectators, of the violence associated with bullfighting and bull-running. CRC/C/PRT/CO/5-6 Portugal
(f) The physical and mental well-being of children involved in training for bullfighting, and performances associated with it, as well as the mental and emotional well-being of child spectators who are exposed to the violence of bullfighting; CRC/C/COL/CO/4-5 Columbia
31. (d) The physical and mental well-being of children involved in training for bullfighting, and performances associated with it, as well as the mental and emotional wellbeing of child spectators who are exposed to the violence of bullfighting.CRC/MEX/CO/C/4-5 Mexico
Prohibit the participation of children in bullfighting training and associated performances as a worst form of child labour, ensure the protection of child spectators and raise awareness of the physical and mental violence associated with bullfighting and its impact on children. CRC/C/PER/CO/4-5 Peru
(f) Increase efforts to change violent traditions and practices that negatively affect the well-being of children, including by prohibiting children’s access to bullfighting and associated performances. CRC/C/FRA/CO/5 France
28. The Committee recommends that the age limit for watching and participating in bullfighting be raised from 16 to 18 years and made statutory.
25. In order to prevent the harmful effects of bullfighting on children, the Committee recommends that the State party prohibit the participation of children under 18 years of age as bullfighters and as spectators in bullfighting events.
16. Recalling its General Comment No. 14 (2013) on the right of the child to have his or her best interests taken as a primary consideration and its previous recommendations,9 the Committee recommends that the State party: (a) Ensure that the principle of the best interests of the child is consistently applied in all administrative and judicial proceedings, as well as in policies, programmes and projects that are relevant to, and have an impact on, children; (b) Finalize the procedure, with a clear set of criteria, to provide guidance to all relevant persons in authority for determining the best interests of the child in every area and for giving it due weight as a primary consideration; (c) Evaluate and eliminate, on the basis of the procedure and criteria described above, practices, policies and services that may not be in the best interests of the child, including those relating to societal violence against animals. CRC/C/TUN/CO/4-6 Tunisia
The issue is of such a scale & scope that clarification is required for States Parties to ensure protection of children from exposure to ‘societal violence against animals’. To ensure this clarity we will suggest that all forms of societal violence against animals be included in General Comment 13.
The protection of children from all forms of violence is a fundamental right enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child The inclusion of a specific target (SDG 16.2) in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to end all forms of violence against children, gives renewed impetus towards the realisation of the right of every child to live free from fear, neglect, abuse & exploitation.
Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals
In many nations societal violence against animals is promoted because of inadequate homeless animal management programs with violent practices being normalised by societies.
The primary declared function of the Council of Europe is Human Rights and its European Charter includes:
'The Charter lays specific emphasis on the protection of vulnerable persons such as elderly people, children, people with disabilities and migrants. It requires that enjoyment of the abovementioned rights be guaranteed without discrimination.' - CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION (2000/C 364/01) Article 24
Compliance with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommendation to 'eliminate societal violence against animals'can be achieved by enactment of the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals
Reduction of numbers
When a Party considers that the numbers of stray animals present it with a problem, it shall take the appropriate legislative and/or administrative measures necessary to reduce their numbers in a way which does not cause avoidable pain, suffering or distress. Such measures shall include the requirements that:
a i) If such animals are to be captured, this is done with the minimum of physical and mental suffering appropriate to the animal;
ii) Whether captured animals are kept or killed, this is done in accordance with the principles laid down in this Convention;
b Parties undertake to consider:
i) Providing for dogs and cats to be permanently identified by some appropriate means which causes little or no enduring pain, suffering or distress, such as tattooing as well as recording the numbers in a register together with the names and addresses of their owners;
ii) Reducing the unplanned breeding of dogs and cats by promoting the neutering of these animals;
iii)encouraging the finder of a stray dog or cat to report it to the competent authority.'
EUROPEAN CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION OF PET ANIMALS Chapter 3 Article 12
'Once the treaty enters into force in respect of a State, it becomes LEGALLY binding and the State MUST implement its provisions'. https://rm.coe.int/16802f5aff FAQ Item 3
Protect the Animal to Save the Child…
Protect the Child to Save the Animal