PRESS RELEASE: Global Child Forum calls for cross-sector action to promote children's rights in the MENA region

  • Cross-sector partnerships are critical to improve children’s rights in the Middle East and North Africa, concludes Global Child Forum
  • High-level event brings together regional and international decision-makers from business, finance, state, academia and civil society to discuss the most pressing issues facing children in the Middle East and North Africa
  • Forum held under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden and Her Royal Highness Princess Haya

Dubai, UAE – 13 November, 2014: The Global Child Forum, an international independent platform for research, dialogue, information and action, initiated by Their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, today concluded with an agreement to reinforce the importance and relevance of children’s rights across the Middle East and North Africa, calling on cross-sector partnerships and action to continue to raise awareness of child rights issues.

“I am honored that Global Child Forum has chosen the Middle East and North African region for its first international Forum. It is an important gathering of key thought leaders in the area of children’s rights that League of Arab States is proud to be part of” said H.E. Ambassador Ahmed Benhelli, Deputy Secretary-General, League of Arab States.

“Today, government, civil society, business and academia are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child but we must not lose sight of the threats and challenges children still face all around the world – every day. Thanks to the Global Child Forum, I hope that we are taking one step closer to improving the rights of the child in the Middle East and North African region” said Salil Shetty, Secretary-General, Amnesty International.

Badr Jafar, the CEO of Crescent Enterprises and Co-Founder of the Pearl Initiative, urged the private sector to raise its understanding and awareness of children’s rights and develop local capabilities and expertise. “I truly advocate that whenever we as the private sector look to how we can align our businesses with the needs of society, we must believe in the value creation we will generate as a result – for those we impact, as well as for our bottom line,” he said. “With every third person in the world being a child under the age of 18, imbedding children’s interests into our business practices is not ornamental, but fundamental,” he added.

“Global Child Forum believes that by facilitating and inspiring cross-sector partnerships and action, we will create a world where children’s rights are respected and supported by all stakeholders in society. I am proud that our first international Forum has managed to gather regional and international thought leaders that share this belief” said Ulf Karlberg, Chairman, Global Child Forum.

The call to action follows the release of the Global Child Forum’s first report on children’s rights in the region. The report revealed that while a quarter of companies in the Middle East and Africa donate to child rights charities, just 11 percent address specific child rights issues. Children’s Rights and the Corporate Sector in the Middle East and North Africa, conducted by Global Child Forum and the Boston Consulting Group, looked at how 353 publically listed companies selected from the Forbes 500 Companies in the Arab world list address and report on children’s rights.

The high-level forum, held under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden and Chairperson of Dubai Healthcare City Authority and Chairperson of International Humanitarian City Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, urged the region to champion partnerships between academia, business, civil society and government to inspire cross-sector action on children´s rights.

The forum hosted four action lab sessions on Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship; The Children’s Rights and Business Principles; Children in a Digital World; and Employees are also Parents and Caretakers.

About Global Child Forum

Global Child Forum is an international independent platform for research, dialogue, information and action into children’s rights, initiated by Their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden. Global Child Forum discusses the most pressing issues facing children and showcases what pioneering companies are doing to ensure that children’s rights are protected in all their business dealings.

As a global multi-stakeholder platform, the Global Child Forum works for informed dialogue and thought leadership on how to advance children’s rights in support of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Global Child Forum aims to gather leaders from business, governments, academia and civil society in a joint effort to implement children’s rights.