The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have now come into force and there is much hope for their potential to bring about positive change to the lives of millions of people.
When they adopted the new development agenda, Member States pledged to leave no one behind and to "endeavour to reach the furthest behind". They also reminded us that "there can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development".
The new agenda is set to transform a world confronted with challenges on a scale we have not experienced in decades. Violent conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere are disrupting the lives of millions, and continue to fuel the largest movement of people the world has experienced since the Second World War.
Too often during conflict, we think that children are on the periphery of violence. In reality, it is they who are most affected by war, and our efforts to protect them are being seriously challenged. Right now, in countries such as South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and many more, children are killed, maimed, recruited and used as child soldiers, abducted and made victims of sexual violence. Schools and hospitals are under attack, and they have no access to basic life-saving humanitarian assistance.
Children, who represent roughly half the world's population affected by conflict, largely remain invisible victims. They are, without a doubt, among the most vulnerable and have been left the furthest behind.
Boys and girls affected by armed conflict are also much more than victims of incredibly difficult circumstances. They are key to building the peaceful, strong societies envisioned by the new development agenda. To fulfil the promise of the SDGs, we must harness the potential of boys and girls affected by war.
AN AGENDA THAT TAKES THE NEEDS OF CHILDREN AFFECTED BY ARMED CONFLICT INTO ACCOUNT
Peace, justice and strong institutions are at the heart of the new development agenda. Several goals are related to children, including ensuring quality education and health services, ending the recruitment and use of child soldiers, and stopping all forms of violence against children.
The SDGs affirm every child's right to a quality education. Yet, conflict too often means the end of learning for millions of children.
Schools are destroyed or damaged, and children forced to abandon their homes rarely find a safe place to continue their education during their displacement. For...