The elimination of Violence against children (VAC) is a challenge in all countries and in every society, race, class and culture. It is a violation of human rights, upheld in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which prescribes that every child has the right to survive, grow and be protected from all forms of violence. All children have the right to be respected for their human dignity, physical and psychological integrity and to equal protection. The Convention specifies that it is the obligation of the State parties to address and eliminate the widespread prevalence and incidence of violence against children. In the UN Secretary- General’s Study, “World Report on Violence against Children”, published in 2006, Mr. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro outlined what has to be done to confront the major challenge of VAC. It acknowledges the primary responsibility of State parties to prevent and respond to violence against children, to uphold the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and other treaties. As a follow up to the recommendations of the 2006 UN study on VAC, the UN General Assembly entrusted to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children, Ms. Marta Santos Pais (appointed in 2009), the mandate of promoting global advocacy to accelerate progress in children’s protection from violence worldwide, and monitoring progress achieved across regions. The Special Representative has called for preventive and responsive mechanisms to address violence against children worldwide which includes the development of regional initiatives to prevent and respond to violence against children as framework for national plans and strategies.
ASEAN Member States (AMS) have contributed to the UN study on VAC. The ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) in its July 2011 meeting, identified Elimination of Violence against Children (EVAC) as one of the priority areas in its 2012 -2016 ACWC Work Plan. In 2013, the ASEAN Leaders adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and the Elimination of Violence against Children, and in that Declaration ACWC was tasked to 5 promote the implementation of the Declaration. Further, in 2014, at the10thmeeting in Myanmar, ACWC endorsed the proposal to develop an ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on the Elimination of Violence against Children (EVAC).
The ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD) is an important sectoral body. SOMSWD oversees the welfare and development of children in ASEAN. Hence, all activities undertaken under the ASEAN cooperation on social welfare and development come under the purview of SOMSWD. SOMSWD has been working closely with ACWC, including working jointly in the formulation of the ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on EVAC.