UN Photo/Marco Dormino

The Children’s Revolution

The world can end child labor, child marriage, child trafficking, and discrimination against girls by establishing a new international children’s court and, with it, a proper reporting and sanctions system. In fact, violations of children’s rights are now so rampant that there simply is no alternative.

LONDON – Two tragic and haunting images have emerged this year: hooded Islamic State executioners holding their knives to the necks of innocent victims, and masked medical workers bravely fighting an uphill battle against an Ebola outbreak for which the world was not prepared. But the year’s lasting legacy will be an even more extensive disaster, with recovery taking years, if not decades: nearly two million newly displaced children, trapped in conflict zones across Iraq, Syria, Gaza, the Central African Republic, and elsewhere.

These children have joined the ranks of 25 million displaced boys and girls worldwide – a number equivalent to the population of a midsize European country and the largest in the 70 years since the end of World War II. Images of vulnerable, desolate refugee children – likely to be displaced for a decade or more – have become so common that the world seems unable to comprehend what it is seeing.

But the plight of child refugees is only one reason why a new approach to children’s rights is needed. This year, an estimated 15 million school-age girls will become child brides, forced into marriage against their will. Some 14 million boys and girls below the age of 14 are child laborers, many forced to work in the most hazardous of conditions. And 32 million girls are denied the basic right to attend school, owing to gender discrimination; around 500,000 of them are trafficked each year.

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