Remarks at a Third Committee General Discussion on the Rights of Children

Jonathan Shrier
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the Economic and Social Council
New York, New York
October 6, 2023


Thank you, Chair, for facilitating this important discussion.

The facts are sobering: UNICEF reports more children need humanitarian assistance now than at any point since the creation of the United Nations. Children face a web of intersecting crises including climate change, food and nutrition insecurity, conflicts and displacement, and physical and mental health challenges. These crises disproportionately affect girls in all their diversity, children of color, Indigenous children, children with disabilities, LGBTQI+ children, and children from other often disadvantaged, vulnerable, and marginalized groups.

The evidence is clear: when we prioritize the needs of these children, we better meet the needs of all children.

Let me give just a few examples. UNICEF has demonstrated that investing in girls’ education contributes to a decrease in gender-based violence, child early and forced marriage, child and maternal mortality, and child stunting. Gender-equitable education systems have the power to support girls in realizing their rights, developing the skills to become active citizens, and reducing gender norms that have negative consequences for both boys and girls.

Accessible and universal design principles make assistive devices, services, and other products easier to use not only for children with disabilities but for all children. Innovative approaches to education, play, nutrition, health, and protection in development and humanitarian contexts foster inclusive and equitable classrooms and communities where no child is left behind.

Additionally, accurate and inclusive education on issues relating to race, Indigeneity, sexual orientation, gender identities and expression, and sex characteristics help affirm the identities of children from marginalized groups. It also expands the worldview of all students and prepares them to engage meaningfully in a diverse society.

When we support marginalized children, we create a better world for all children. We pave the way for a more equitable, inclusive, and prosperous future where no one is left behind.

The United States recognizes the importance of supporting and uplifting children. We have invested $350 million domestically to improve child protective services and community-based child abuse prevention programs. Earlier this year, the United States also formed a Task Force on Kids Online Health and Safety to prevent and mitigate the potential adverse health effects of online platforms on minors. President Biden also announced a strategy to promote youth resilience in response to the youth mental health crisis, and the United States is preparing our first-ever national adolescent health action plan, which aims to ensure all adolescents in the United States have the safety, support, and resources to thrive, be healthy, and have equitable opportunity to realize their full potential.

Both domestically and internationally, the United States is committed to strengthening the livelihoods and meaningful participation in society of children, adolescents, and the families who love and care for them. We believe this is one of the best investments a country can make to eliminate extreme poverty, boost economic growth, and promote a peaceful society.

This investment is not simple. It requires us to pursue immunization efforts and combat food and nutrition poverty, among other initiatives to protect the health and safety of the world’s children. We must develop quality and inclusive educational programs that reflect the diversity of all children and allow them to grow, learn, and gain the skills they need to succeed. In short, we must empower children to grow up to play a meaningful role in solving our pressing global issues.

Let us work together to make the world a better place for all children and provide them with the environment, education, and tools they need to drive meaningful change in the future.

Thank you.