3 July 2015: For the first time ever, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted a substantial resolution dedicated to child, early and forced marriage on Thursday 2 July.
The resolution recognises child, early and forced marriage as a violation of human rights and calls for strengthened efforts to prevent and eliminate this harmful practice and support married girls.
Plan International welcomes the call to review existing strategies and initiatives to address child, early and forced marriage, as another means to ensure the issue stays on the international agenda.
Significant step forward
The resolution, which was unanimously adopted with the support of more than 85 States, is another significant step forward in global efforts to combat this harmful practice.
The resolution builds on the recent decision taken by the UN General Assembly in New York and brings a human rights perspective which will be essential in guiding efforts to protect girls from child marriage and support those who are already married.
According to UNICEF, approximately 15 million girls under the age of 18 are married every year and if there is no reduction in the practice, up to 280 million girls alive today are at risk of becoming brides by the time they turn 18.
The Human Rights Council resolution recognises child marriage as a human rights violation and a barrier to sustainable development that contributes to perpetuating the cycle of poverty.
Deep-rooted gender inequalities, norms and stereotypes are identified as among the primary causes of child, early and forced marriage. The resolution also confirms the importance of quality education in the prevention of the practice and asks States to take actions in this regard.
Two other action points in the resolution are of great importance to Plan International. First, the resolution calls on States to promote the meaningful participation and active consultation of children and young people in all issues affecting them and create awareness about their rights. Second, it urges States to strengthen their efforts to ensure free birth registration, as well as marriage, divorce and death registrations as part of a comprehensive civil registration and vital statistics system.
The next step will be the organisation, by June 2017, of an expert workshop to review the impact of existing strategies and initiatives to address child, early and forced marriages and to make recommendations for further action by States and the international community.
The call for the workshop in the resolution is much welcome as it will be a unique opportunity to discuss practical tools to assist states in the implementation of their human rights obligations to address child marriage.