UNESCO welcomes new international instrument on children’s rights in relation to digital environment
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child launched on 24 March 2021 a guiding document on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment, which embeds children’s rights online into the larger framework of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The landmark document highlights and raises awareness of the risks children face online, as well as the opportunities the online environment brings to them, exhorting all those responsible from the public and private sectors to take action to address them.
UNESCO congratulates the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child for this significant achievement and joins the End Violence Partnership, the International Telecommunication Union, UNICEF, UNODC, the WeProtect Global Alliance, the World Childhood Foundation USA, and the World Health Organization in calling the international community to implement the principles of General Comment 25.
The General Comment was adopted on 2nd March 2021, following a consultative process started in March 2019 and which has seen a large participation from States, regional organizations, United Nations agencies, national Human Rights institutions and Children’s Commissioners, children’s and adolescent groups, civil society organizations, academics, the private sector, as well as other entities and individuals.
Stemming on its work on promoting freedom of expression, children rights to education, including a lifelong learning approach and media and information literacy, UNESCO participated in these consultations emphasizing inter alias the importance to ensure a balanced approach for children to benefit from engaging with the digital environment. This includes learning to create content relevant to their personal lives and communities, while mitigating the associated harms, including for children in disadvantaged or vulnerable situations.
For these reasons, UNESCO stresses that policies addressing these challenges should therefore be supported by Media and Information Literacy and digital competencies. The earlier children are exposed to media and information literacy competencies the more discerning and critical they become about information, digital, and media content as they grow older.