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Essay 대회2019 Essay 대회 고등부 유엔아카데믹임팩트 한국협의회 회장상 수상자

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유엔아카데믹임팩트 한국협의회(UNAI Korea) 회장상


고양외국어고등학교 윤서영


Essay Topic - SDGs Goal 16

The issue of ‘Child Soldier’ is a serious social problem in most of the countries in African regions where ongoing armed conflicts occur on a regular basis. Not only ground on local level support, but there have also been growing calls on an international level to heighten internal and external supports for child soldiers who have experienced civil wars, suffering from physical and mental exhaustion. Goal 16 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals also accentuates the importance of eradicating every form of child-related abuse such as exploitation and human trafficking. In your opinion, why should we protect and promote children’s rights in order to fulfill Goal 16? Furthermore, what kinds of policies should come as a priority for developing countries that lack social infrastructure, in order to protect the rights of children?

 

Grand Prize Winner's Essay

While it is undeniable that children must be taken care of and protected with attention, the current situations in many parts of the globe do not seem to guarantee those essential and basic rights they deserve. Numerous children are still exposed to various forms of violence, such as exploitation, abuse and human trafficking. Such violence is not only tragic for the children themselves, but also has damaging to the whole international society, in terms of peace.

In order to further the discussions on the importance of ensuring child rights to achieve SDG 16 on peace, it will be useful to first point out the definition of peace, in other words, what kinds of factors constitute peace. Galtung, a Norwegian sociologist renowned for his peace studies, has established the notion of negative and positive peace. According to his theory, what we need to pursue is the 'positive peace', whereby not only basic and external violence but also all kinds of violence, including cultural and structural, are completely eliminated. This idea implies that human rights lie at the core of achieving peace, and that not just the SDG 16 but the whole seventeen SDGs each, in its own ways, should consider human rights as critical issues. Moreover, as children are some of the most vulnerable groups within the society that are prone to violence and abuse, the emphasis should be put on their human rights above all. In addition, considering that children are potential leading members and future generation of each society, ensuring their rights and promoting their growth is essential for maintaining a sustainable and cohesive society.

There are certainly countless policies and fields necessary to promote child rights, ranging from health and housing to education. The point, however, is that we need to find out which to 'prioritize' among those approaches, since many of the developing countries are faced with the lack of financial budget, social infrastructure, and other capacities to implement all of them at the same time. And, comprehensively considering all the factors involved, 'health' should be the core of the child rights policies in developing nations.

Health can actually be regarded as a broad concept to approach, and yet focusing on health is crucial in many aspects. First of all, a large proportion of the children in developing countries are suffering from poverty, which makes it difficult for them to access basic food sources and shelters needed to sustain their life. Some of them also lack access to sanitary infrastructures and medical care, which are significant factors to achieve health. In such circumstances, providing them with basic necessities for health in an efficient way should be the priority.

In addition to the physical aspect, the mental health of children must be put into consideration in policy making. The majority of the children who has already undergone violence suffer for severe mental damage for a long time. Thus, measures to deal with such mental burdens need to be implemented. And this can be done in parallel with education. That is, schools and teachers can be the provider of lessons and mental care at the same time. Education will play a role in helping children get out of the distress of violence and move forward to actualize their potentials in their whole life. Furthermore, it must be noted that problems like child soldiers, human trafficking, and child labor exploitation are all partly correlated with economic reasons. In other words, such issues on peace and justice can be effectively resolved only after they become free from severe poverty that restrains their life. Education can again assist in coping with this problem by providing children with knowledge and skills that can be utilized in establishing their future careers.

In conclusion, human rights, especially those of child, are of paramount significance in addressing the international peace and justice. And, though a little bit vague and broad, policies focusing on the comprehensive 'health' of the children should be implemented to ensure those rights in developing countries. This includes not just physical but also mental health, which is also associated with education. Based on such approaches, child rights can be ensured and enhanced in international society in a sustainable way, thereby making the whole world closer to achieving the true 'positive peace'.

We support the Sustainable Development Goals.