Childrens Rights, Animal Rights & the United Nations.

A Unification ?

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 '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 societal violence against animals.'

There are many nations where children must witness extensive public violent abuse of animals, often endorsed or condoned by governments as homeless animal managemenht programs. 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 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.

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) 

 UN 2030 Agenda statements mirror closely what the UN CRC have 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 and government violence towards stray dogs 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. The UN CRC have said children are being taught that dogs are vermin and the social status of the animal is diminished. That goes against the UN ethos written here.

How the SDGs can be used to assist the UN CRC protect The Child and their Rights

Goal 3 – Health and Wellbeing

UNCRC say the mental health and well being of children is affected by witnessing violence on stray dogs. During stray dog 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.

Goal 4 – Quality Education

Stray dogs are treated like vermin by many governments. There are often no laws to protect stray dogs 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. 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 state that no matter how ' low' the vaue 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.

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 populatations & also protect children from experiencing potentially life changing effects from witnessing violent practices conducted against animals. 

UNICEF is now invited to engage by informing & inviting government to protect the child by protecting the animal...and protecting the animal to protect the child.