Five years ago, on 18 September, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and UNICEF signed a partnership that created a network of over 1,500 influential supporters and over 100 practical tools and strategies to strengthen the work for children.
“The WCC-UNICEF partnership gives a strong message on the importance of prioritizing the work and care for children” said Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, WCC interim general secretary.
Spurred by a joint declaration of 38 churches titled ‘Putting Children at the Centre,’ which came out of the WCC 10th Assembly in Busan in 2013, the WCC heeded the call and decided to place a greater focus on children.
The Churches’ Commitments to Children initiative is the most concrete example of the impact of the WCC-UNICEF partnership. After going through a rigorous consultation process that included hearing more than 100 children from at least seven countries in five continents, as well as theologians and other child-focused organisations, the commitments were adopted in 2016 and sent out by the WCC in early 2017 as an open invitation to work towards advancing the rights of children collectively.
“Thousands of influential supporters have been collaborating around the partnership action plan, ranging from church leaders to Nobel Prize winners and activists at the grassroots level. They are using their influence to advance the objectives of our joint WCC-UNICEF programme,” said Frederique Seidel, WCC senior advisor on child rights. “Moreover, hundreds of tools and strategies are available to churches and partners to strengthen the work for children and the implementation of the Churches’ Commitments to Children.”
Supporting and engaging with children/youth in the COVID-19 response is now one of the priorities across all activities of the WCC-UNICEF partnership.
The next event, on 10-11 December, will be an interfaith online conference on child migrants in Europe, supported by faith-based communities to promote social inclusion.