The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Ms Marta Santos Pais, carried out a week-long mission to the South Pacific in May. The visit began with participation in the Pacific Conference on Ending Violence against Children in Nadi, Fiji that brought policy makers, civil society groups and government leaders from 13 Pacific countries together to discuss ways to address violence against children in the region. In her keynote speech, the SRSG commended Pacific leaders for their strong commitment to reduce the high rates of violence against children reported in the region and discussed practical ways forward. The Conference concluded with a strong call to action in the Pacific region to reduce violence against children and commitments for follow-up from the country delegations. The SRSG also participated in the launch of a joint UNICEF/UNFPA report, ‘Harmful Connections: Examining the relationship between violence against women and violence against children’, which is a review and synthesis of research in the Pacific highlighting the clear link between violence against children and violence against women.
The SRSG then made a three-day visit to the Solomon Islands where she met with the Prime Minister and other senior government leaders, representatives of civil society, and youth leaders. The SRSG welcomed legislative and policy reforms that will strengthen the protection of children rights, such as the Family Protection Act of 2014 prohibiting all forms of violence against children; the review of the Penal Code that will bring the law on sexual violence against children in line with international standards; as well progress in civil registration and birth registration. The SRSG urged Parliament to give swift passage of the draft Child and Family Welfare bill as it will further strengthen child protection services, and help prevention and response efforts while enhancing the capacity of professionals. She also recalled the importance of ratifying the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and its effective implementation and underlined how the new Sustainable Development Agenda is an opportunity to strengthen national planning on child protection and improving cooperation between stakeholders.