EFPA appeals to all psychologists to celebrate young people’s commitment to protecting their rights and their future on World Children’s Day and to ensure that no child is left behind.
Today, Wednesday 20th November 2019, marks World Children’s Day(1) and it is inspiring seeing so many young people taking action across the globe in defence of their future.
This upsurge in action has had many themes. In particular the climate and environmental emergency has led to millions protesting about impact human activity has on the environment and how this affects their human rights and risks their future (2).
Children’s rights have been enormously strengthened since the publication of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1989 – but thirty years on we still have very severe and worldwide violations. United Nations Sustainable Goal 16 (Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels) sets out a marker on what we have to achieve and the Childhub initiative aims to develop professional advocacy and support for defending the rights of children and child protection systems (3) is one that psychologists fully endorse, no child left behind.
The human rights of children are of crucial importance to everyone in the world, psychologists included.
In 2013 the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations (EFPA) called for psychologists and their associations to engage more strongly in protection and promotion of human rights. Today, the call is even more urgent as we are witnessing threats to and reversal of fundamental human rights in many parts of the world (see the World Justice Report (4). Alongside this reversal, we are witnessing a resurgence in resistance and creative and engaging movements emerging.
Psychologists should be sensitive and driven by strong ethical and personal values to engage their communities and local societies in building a human right sensitive culture.
Psychologists must use their influence to drive change for the most marginalized and deprived children. Advocacy of children rights should be initiated by psychologists at all levels, taking a human-rights based approach to their practice and advocacy in legislation and policy making. Understanding the needs of children both globally and across Europe should be always centre stage.
For many children in many parts of the world urgent action is needed. On October 29th 2019 EFPA issued a press release on the importance of action to protect children in refugee camps where they said: “ ..the psychological and developmental harm that is currently being brought upon the children, are unquestionable. As psychologists we are obligated to speak up when fundamental human rights are being violated and when children are at risk… Therefore, we urge the leaders of the world to take necessary actions to protect children in refugee camps and to respect and be compliant to the international humanitarian laws meant to protect civilians.” - for the full press release see (5)
There is much to celebrate in the world for children. Being alive and flourishing is a wonderful thing.
All efforts must be made by psychologists to join with others on World Children’s day to make all children’s lives as good as they can possibly be, and no child left behind.
EFPA is the umbrella organisation gathering 39 national psychology associations in Europe representing some 300,000 psychologists. It provides a forum for European cooperation in a wide range of fields of academic training, psychology practice and research.