Daunting as the challenges may be, we can make a difference. We are today marking our centenary by launching a global campaign called Stop the War on Children, with three simple objectives.
First, we need to make the invisible war on children visible. It is high time that UN agencies and governments started reporting on the war against children, documenting the casualties and naming those responsible.
As one of the largest members of Nato, a permanent member of the UN Security Council and member of the G7, Britain can help transform the lives of children around the world. By updating its civilian protection strategy – and putting children front and centre of policies covering diplomacy, defence and aid – the UK can make a real difference.
Second, it is time to bring down the curtain on the culture of impunity surrounding crimes committed against children.
Political leaders and military commanders who authorise humanitarian blockades, murder children in buses, bomb schools and fail in their duty to uphold laws protecting children should not be attending security conferences in Munich.
They should be standing in the dock of courts, like the International Criminal Court in the Hague, and the UK should be leading the charge.
Third, we need to help the children traumatised by war rebuild their lives. That means providing the psycho-social support and the education needed to restore hope. Our aim is to deliver that support to 200,000 children over the next three years.
One hundred years ago our founder Eglantyne Jebb described the cry of a child as “the only international language”. A century later, children are still crying out for our support and protection. It’s time we started listening.
- Kevin Watkins is chief executive of Save the Children UK