25 January 2023 Media Releases
New Zealand Government under spotlight at UN review on children’s rights progress
New Zealand Government representatives will today present to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child as part of the sixth review on the country’s progress in upholding children’s rights. This review is the first since 2016.
A New Zealand delegation of child rights advocates are also attending the Committee in Geneva to observe and monitor the review.
The two-day session, which begins in Geneva later today (local time), is an opportunity for Committee members to probe New Zealand government representatives on its report submitted to the Committee, received alongside reports from the Children’s Rights Alliance Aotearoa, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, the Human Rights Commission, Save the Children New Zealand and a range of civil society children’s organisations.
“While some progress has been made for children since 1993, our reporting shows significant inequities in children’s experience of their rights in Aotearoa,” says Dr Claire Achmad, Deputy Chair of Children’s Rights Alliance Aotearoa.
“Overall, New Zealand tends to overlook children as citizens; active participants in and contributors in their lives, the lives of their whānau and communities. The children’s rights reporting process is an opportunity for us all to reflect on how children – as a population group, groups of children and individuals – are regarded and treated in Aotearoa; how our laws, policies and practices impact children’s rights and wellbeing. Through our civil society reporting to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, it is clear that we still have a long way to go to make all children’s rights real in Aotearoa.”
Representatives from the Alliance, OCC, HRC and Save the Children New Zealand are present in Geneva to observe the Government’s examination on New Zealand’s progress, the issues the Committee will focus on, and how the recommendations that come out of the process will provide guidance for how we do better for children in New Zealand.
Children’s Commissioner Judge Frances Eivers says this year marks three decades of the Convention in Aotearoa New Zealand, and the review offers an opportunity to “ask ourselves what changes are needed to ensure all our children, and future generations of children, have their rights respected to the fullest extent possible”.
“When we still have a system that allows a child in state care to be housed in a motel for over a year and a half, we have to accept that we haven’t done enough for our mokopuna. We must make the 30th anniversary of the Convention in Aotearoa a turning point for children.
“Let’s ask ourselves what progress we want to see for children right now and in another 30 years’ time. What do we need to do to better respect and advance the rights of our children now, and to be good ancestors for future generations of children in our country?
“There are many practical actions that are needed and that are possible – starting with basic yet essential things – like warm and safe housing for all – but we also need to recognise that children who have suffered at the hands of others deserve to be respected, treated with aroha, and not be allowed to suffer further.”
Save the Children New Zealand Advocacy and Research Director Jacqui Southey says some of the worst outcomes experienced by children in Aotearoa are by the country’s youngest and most vulnerable.
“Our Under 5s report submitted to the Committee last year shows that Kiwi pre-schoolers are sadly experiencing far worse health and welfare outcomes than older kids, with the leading causes of ill health and mortality largely preventable and attributable to poverty.
“While a number of the Government’s initiatives and changes offer potential to advance children’s rights, more clarity is needed on how these changes will guarantee all children, including different groups of children, are planned for and prioritised in Government policy, particularly in areas such as reducing the impact of increased climate related emergencies, responses to the housing crisis, education reform and access to healthcare.”
Following the hearing, the Committee will publish ‘Concluding Observations’ about New Zealand’s current children rights situation, and specific recommendations to the New Zealand government about actions needed to improve children’s rights, including what needs urgent attention.
The Government’s dialogue with the UN will be screened live on UN Web TV. Recordings of the session will be available here. The Government’s next review by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child won’t be for another eight years.
Notes to editors:
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which New Zealand ratified in 1993, makes clear what the Government needs to do to ensure that all children experience their rights equitably, in all circumstances. This includes living free from discrimination, violence and abuse; having enough food, clean water, access to medical care and access to education; and children being able to participate in matters affecting their lives and that are important to them.
All countries that have ratified the Convention, such as New Zealand, are reviewed by the UN on their progress in upholding children’s rights around every five years.
Spokespeople are available in Geneva and New Zealand (note 12 hour time difference).
- Judge Frances Eivers, Children’s Commissioner
- Dr Claire Achmad, Deputy Chair, Children’s Rights Commission Aotearoa New Zealand
- Jacqui Southey, Children’s Rights Advocacy & Research Director, Save the Children New Zealand
For inquiries, contact:
Lee Harris Royal
Communications Manager, Office of the Children’s Commissioner
M: +64 27 696 5101 E: email@example.com
Save the Children New Zealand Communications Director
M: +64 27 248 6478 E: firstname.lastname@example.org