The Solutions Summit: what works to End Violence against children?

The End Violence Solutions Summit 2018 is a breakthrough event for those working to fulfill the 2030 Agenda commitment that all children should live free from fear and violence.

Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations addresses the Solutions Summit in Stockholm. ©Government of Sweden/Jessica Gow

Each year, a billion children are victims of violence. A child dies from violence every five minutes. But the threats they face have seldom been taken seriously by national and international policymakers.

This summit shows how much has changed:

  • The seniority of those attending is a statement of intent. From the UN, the Deputy Secretary-General, and the heads of UNICEF, WHO, UNODC and UNDP all made the trip to Stockholm.
  • The focus is strongly on solutions — not why we should act, but what needs to be done — and how. The INSPIRE strategies, a new consensus among the key international organizations, has placed the evidence of what works in the hands of decision makers.
  • Pathfinder countries are stepping up implementation, acting as the laboratories of violence prevention. At CIC, we’ve supported three of these countries: Indonesia, Sweden and Tanzania. The summit program has an update on what each country is doing.

The summit’s guide describes me as the co-founder of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, with Susan Bissell, the partnership’s first director.

This overplays my influence and underplays the work of others, but CIC did propose the formation of the partnership in its widely-read report If Not Now, When? We also helped incubate it in its first year before full-time staff came on board.

The cover of the original report in 2014.

This was important to CIC for three reasons. First, our work in 2014 for the President of the General Assembly on the contentious negotiations of SDG16 had shown that violence against children was a rare consensus issue and was an entry point for efforts to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies.

Second, champions for children in the 2030 Agenda knew that violence was the missing piece of the MDG puzzle — the agenda’s core promises to children would never be delivered without a big push on prevention.

Third, this is an area where a few decades of investment in evidence is bearing fruit. Advocacy on the problem risks feeding fatalism and certainly fuels political divisions between UN member states. That’s why we proposed a Solutions Summit to pump evidence of what works into the policy mainstream.

Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden addresses the Solutions Summit in 2018, which was first proposed by CIC in its 2014 report, “If not now, when?” ©Government of Sweden/Jessica Gow

Some thoughts on where we need to go after the summit:

  • The Deputy Secretary-General set the clock ticking to the High-level Political Forum in 2019 — when ministers will review SDG16 and Presidents and Prime Ministers will gather for the first four-yearly summit on the Agenda. This is an opportunity to report early results achieved for children, and to make more ambitious commitments for the future.
  • We heard today from more than 17 ministers from pathfinder countries on what they are doing to End Violence. The presentations were impressive, but how many countries will make the long-term commitment that will be needed to deliver measurable change in levels of violence by the time of the second 2030 Agenda summit in 2023? And will international and regional actors step up their efforts to provide these countries with the support they need?
  • INSPIRE has now clearly emerged as the common language for all those working to End Violence, but a decade of work is needed for it to deliver its potential. Will it drive a research strategy that steadily strengthens evidence? Will funders come together to get serious about financing prevention for children? Will we measure its roll-out, asking how many children benefit from high-quality implementation of the best policies and programs? And when will we see an INSPIRE+ that focuses on the needs of children living in conflict-affected states?
  • The summit has rallied the global movement for ending violence against children, but advocacy efforts remain fragmented. CIC has called for a ‘campaign of campaigns’ to “identify shared goals, priorities, champions and ‘moments’ that will maximize impact, while allowing each component campaign to maintain its distinct role and contribution. It would also help national campaigns learn from and reinforce each other.”
  • Finally, we must work hard to break down the silos between those working on different forms of prevention. The DSG was insistent on the imperative of building links between solutions for women and for children. The Pathfinders roadmap takes this a step further. SDG16.1 promises to significantly reduce all forms of violence everywhere. This is one of the great challenges of the 2030 Agenda. It can only be delivered if those working on different forms of prevention come together behind a shared vision and mission.

Read the Stockholm Proclamation that was agreed at the conclusion of the Summit.

For more information, read CIC’s briefing: Where Next? Ending Violence Against Children.