The advocacy butterfly effect
* Guest Blog by Conor Quinn
Irish NGOs are playing a leading role in shaping the international development agenda. In 2015, the Millennium Development Goals will be replaced by a new framework, which will be decided over the next year. The Millennium Development Goals were a watershed moment in international co-operation on development issues, and have resulted in some significant successes. However, they have also been criticised for the top-down manner in which they were decided, for their arbitrary nature, and for the resulting gaps in their coverage of major issues. Accordingly, the post-2015 process has been made much more open to participation from a broad range of stakeholders, and Irish NGOs have taken full advantage of these opportunities.
ChildFund Ireland, for example, are championing the cause of children’s rights and seeking to secure the inclusion of goals which explicitly address reducing violence and exploitation against children. They have done this as members of Dóchas and through the World We Want platform, but also individually through the Free From Violence and Exploitation Campaign. The FREE campaign seeks to raise public awareness on abuses of children’s rights – for instance of the fact that 150 million girls and 73 million boys worldwide are raped or subject to sexual violence each year – and to influence global leaders to address this travesty. In March, ChildFund’s Secretary General presented the case for including the prevention of violence against children in the post-2015 agenda to governments and UN representatives at a high-level meeting in New York, and in May, the High-Level Panel’s interim report recognised children’s “particular vulnerability to violence, exploitation and abuse”, and proposed “a target to eliminate all forms of violence against children”.
ChildFund is now seeking to ensure that this momentum is not lost and that this proposal becomes a commitment in the final post-2015 agreement. In July, Minister Joe Costello and sports presenter Evanne Ní Chuilinn launched the FREE campaign in Ireland, attracting national media coverage, and last week rugby legend Ciaran Fitzgerald promoted the campaign in his interview with The Morning Show on TV3. ChildFund wants to show world leaders that the public cares about child protection and so it has created an online petition, which will be presented to the UN at a special event on 25th September. ChildFund invites all members of the public to sign this petition to let Governments and the United Nations know that your priority is a world where children are FREE from violence and exploitation. The success of the FREE campaign so far has shown that decision-makers are listening. ChildFund has spoken. Now is the time to add your voice, be part of the butterfly effect, and together we can make history.
* Conor Quinn is Communications Officer with ChildFund Ireland
[The views in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dóchas]