The head of UN human rights reports that in 2023, the number of children murdered in violent conflicts quadrupled.

During his worldwide briefing to the 56th session of the Human Rights Council on Tuesday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk claimed in a statement that the number of children murdered in international armed conflicts increased in 2023.

In his opening remarks, the UN human rights commissioner said that in 2023, there were 72% more civilian casualties in armed conflicts, with children being slain than in 2022. “Warriors have pushed beyond the boundaries of what is acceptable – and legal – on many fronts, with utter contempt for the other, trampling human rights at their core,” said Türk, expressing his shock at this development.

Volker Türk condemned the reality that murdering adults and children had become routine. He listed the numerous transgressions of international law perpetrated by belligerents in his remarks. Along with the dissemination of “hateful,” “divisive,” and “dehumanizing” discourse, this also involves the destruction of essential infrastructure, the killing of children, the bombing of hospitals, and the deployment of heavy artillery against entire populations.

Türk went on to say that he was “appalled” by the circumstances of the children in Gaza and the breach of international humanitarian law, noting that the UN’s annual report on children and armed conflict validated almost 3,000 egregious violations of the rights of children. According to the UN human rights head, over 120,000 Palestinians have been killed or injured as a result of Israeli offensives, with women and children making up the majority of the casualties. In addition, he demanded that the “arbitrary denial and obstruction of humanitarian aid” to Gaza immediately cease, since it is making Palestinian children’s living conditions worse and putting them at risk of starvation and food shortages. Türk also mentioned the terrible humanitarian conditions that children in war-torn nations like Sudan face.

The UN human rights commissioner also drew attention to the $40.8 billion “gap” that exists between the amount needed for humanitarian aid and the resources that are available, in contrast to the “steep increase” in global military spending in 2023. Volker Türk emphasized how important it is to stop the pain that children who are exposed to armed conflict and war endure. “In accordance with the UN Charter and international law, we have to find our way back to peace immediately,” he said.

The UN Charter and international humanitarian law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention and the supplemental protocols of 1977 and 2005, ensure the protection of children in armed situations.

Extra The Fourth Geneva Convention’s Protocol I prohibits the destruction of food, water, and other necessities for existence as well as random attacks on civilian populations. Protocol II forbids the following: collective punishment, kidnapping, terrorism, murder, brutal treatment, hostage-taking, slavery, and outrages against human dignity. Additionally, it prohibits attacking civilians as well as “objects indispensable to civilian survival,” which include houses of worship, cultural artifacts, irrigation systems, crops, and drinking water supplies. The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) and other unbiased humanitarian aid organizations must be permitted to continue providing humanitarian assistance, according to Article 18 of the same convention.