HM The Queen's speech in connection with high-level meeting on protecting children


(The spoken version shall take precedence)

Prime Minister,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before I continue, let me also extend a very warm welcome to Ms Olena Zelenska, First Lady of Ukraine, present with us at this meeting on link: welcome!

It is a great pleasure to be here today. Matters related to the rights of the child and children’s living conditions are especially close to my heart.

I started World Childhood Foundation 24 years ago with the mission to help children at risk. Through this work I have met many strong and competent children but also children growing up with violence and abuse.

All children have equal rights that are inherent to them. They have a right to their parents, to education and to protection from all forms of violence, neglect, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse. In short – every child has the right to life and to develop their full potential.

These rights are all recognised in the UN Convention on the rights of the child. States should also ensure protection and care of children who are affected by an armed conflict.

We all know that this is not an easy task. Of course, the rights risk being violated in situations of armed conflict. In all wars, children suffer the worst of all.

Russia’s war against Ukraine is no exception. Since the beginning of the war, children have been uprooted from their homes, separated from their parents, exposed to violence and death. Child protection in war is recognised by the UN as a life saving intervention. Just as important and urgent as food and shelter. Yet, too often it is forgotten, not prioritised or underfunded. But child safety cannot wait. The effects on children of violence and abuse can lead to life-long trauma. But we can also act to prevent and address violence against children. That is why we are here today.

World Childhood Foundation has been working with, and supporting, civil society actors in Ukraine to protect children since 2001. Childhood has for instance been pioneering and promoting foster care solutions, as alternative to institutions and works with especially vulnerable groups. This includes children with disabilities, children of the Roma population or children who are discriminated due to their sexual orientation and gender identity. These are children who lived in vulnerability already before the war, and now even more so.

The Ukrainian civil society has proven strong and creative. They work tirelessly to reach the children and families who need it the most. To provide psychosocial support and protection, to help families stay together.

In addition, Childhood actively supports and encourages its civil society partners to engage in local, national and UN led coordination and collaboration.

We need to act together. The world’s continued response and support for the children is of highest importance. Technical and financial contributions are crucial but so is the moral support. Let us show that we all stand with Ukraine!

I am happy to see Member States and other actors gathered here today, to reconfirm their support for Ukraine and for the Ukrainian children. The high-level presence shows the commitment and gives me high hope that we together will find ways to improve the situation for children.

I am especially pleased to see children from Ukraine with us here today. Children have a right to express their views freely and making their voices heard. Your participation at this meeting is crucial for the upcoming efforts to support children from and in Ukraine, to remind us of what we are really talking about.

It is of great importance that we learn from each other and work together to protect the children and give them the best childhood we can.

Together you will discuss challenges and solutions, and it is my hope that the results from this meeting will inspire future work.

I look forward to taking part of all your knowledge and wisdom. Thank you!