Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi calls for child-related SDGs at UN summit

Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi on Saturday made a strong call to world leaders to give priority to child-related Sustainable Development Goals in their national legislation, warning that the international community will “fail” to accomplish most of the goals if child labour and violence against children continues.

“Slavery still exists in its cruelest form in these modern times. If slavery, trafficking, child labour and violence against children continues, we will fail to accomplish most of the development goals,” he said in his address to the UN Summit on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“A sustainable economy and society can never be built on the foundation of slavery. Today, we have framed a will for a better future. What matters is the will in the words, not the words in the will,” he added.

Satyarthi said for the success of goals, nations need to act on 4 Cs of children, collaboration, compassionate intelligence and changemakers. He said governments must prioritise child-related SDGs in national legislation and planning and invest fully in education, health and child protection.

The SDGs also provide a new opportunity for civil society, faith organisations, governments and businesses, to build genuine and innovative partnerships to make child slavery history. The private sector must also shoulder its responsibility for the world’s children, he said.

“Truly visionary corporate leaders must safeguard children throughout their supply and value chain,” he said.

Satyarthi, who shared the 2014 Nobel peace prize with Pakistani girls education activist Malala Yousafzai, put out a challenge to children and youth to transform themselves into leaders and changemakers.

“Their idealism and desire to change their world is our biggest capital,” he said.

Giving a clarion call to nations to be the first generation to end slavery, Satyarthi warned that if nations fail to harness and channel the drive of youth, their energy will turn into “frustration, intolerance and violence”.