World Children’s Day

To establish flourishing communities, today and in the future, we must protect the rights of every child

Erbil, Iraq – November 20, 2023: Thirty-four years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), establishing minimum standards for protecting the rights of all children. In 1994, Iraq ratified this landmark convention, joining 196 other countries in making the CRC the most widely and rapidly ratified human rights treaty in history.

Yet, almost 30 years later, children across Iraq and Kurdistan continue to face significant challenges. Many have been directly exposed to violence and war. Others have experienced the loss of critical infrastructure, such as hospitals and schools, stretched resources, and lack of services. Protracted displacement and generational trauma have led to high numbers of children developing poor mental health, making them more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. It has been estimated that at least 45,000 displaced children living in camps also lack civil documentation, leaving them unable to enroll in school, register for healthcare, or access other essential services.

But the issues are much broader than that. While rates of child labor are highest among returnee and displaced households, at 50% and 25% respectively, this also appears to be a prevalent trend among host community households, 20% of which report having children engaged in labor activities. Approximately 28% of girls in Iraq are married or in union before the age of 18, and with the proliferation of new technologies outpacing gains in digital literacy, children’s rights are increasingly being violated online.

While the Government of Iraq (GOI) and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have repeatedly affirmed their commitment to protecting the nation’s children, including through the adoption of relevant action plans and policies and the establishment of dedicated departments and units, many of the key rights and protections enshrined in the CRC have yet to be integrated within domestic legislation. The GOI and KRG are working toward the enactment of their first respective child protection laws, and passage of these laws would not only provide the comprehensive framework to strengthen and resource existing child protection systems, but also present an unprecedented opportunity to improve the status of children in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region and solidify progress for the next generation.

Keeping children safe, meeting their needs, and supporting their health and growth is a crucial investment in building strong, capable, flourishing communities. It is imperative that we renew our commitment, today and every day, to protect our children and safeguard their future.


SEED Foundation is a local NGO in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, committed to protecting, empowering, and supporting the recovery of survivors of violence and others at risk. Our approach to this mission is integrative and holistic. We provide quality and comprehensive services, including mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), legal, protection, and shelter services; training, capacity building, and education for those working to protect and serve survivors; and policy and advocacy to strengthen laws, policies, practices, and protections for vulnerable people, and to promote social change.

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