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Jolijn van Haaren
Senior Programme Officer, UNICEF Netherlands
The Netherlands, 13-03-2015

Equitable results for all children: ‘leave no one behind’

‘recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world’ [1]

I imagine a world where all the people around the planet, children and adults, live in freedom, justice and peace. Human rights starts with rights for children. UNICEF believes that every child born into this world has the right to a childhood. Investing in children is key to promote inclusiveness.

There is an increasing inequality in most countries. Child poverty is widespread. The majority of the world’s poor (76%) now live in middle income countries. There is rapid urbanization and the concentration of the poor in mega-cities. [2] We should ask ourselves: Whom are we not reaching?[3]

How can the Dutch be part of the solution? I see four opportunities: 1. the Post-2015 agenda 2. Social Protection 3. Partnership with businesses and 4. Special focus on conflict areas.

  1. The Synthesis report of the Secretary General, makes it very clear: Leave no one behind. [4] Gains achieved through better health, nutrition, education and protection are essential for inclusive growth.
  • Prioritize investments on a set of basic universal services and public goods that are less effectively provided by the private sector. Target groups and communities with the greatest needs. [5]


  1. Social protection programmes reduce poverty and vulnerability while strengthening a broad range of developmental impacts. In Zimbabwe cash and in-kind transfers reduced school dropout rates by 82% and pregnancy by 63%[6]. Investing in and empowering girls and young women will be imperative to slow adolescent fertility rates and build an Africa fit for all .[7] Evidence shows that increasing numbers of social protection schemes reach previously unreached children.
  • Capitalize on the results achieved with Dutch support for Social Protection in Africa since 2009. Make Social Protection an integral component of the four spearheads.


  1. Dutch Foreign Policy embraced the Ruggie framework on Human Rights for Businesses. It is important to create awareness and involvement of (Dutch) companies for the living conditions of employees and people in the community where they produce. The garment worker in Bangladesh needs a living wage but also the guarantee she can get clean drinking water and a reasonable rent at an affordable price.
  • Children are everyone’s business: Encourage companies to take steps to ensure that they are respecting children’s right in their direct operations, in their supply chain and in communities they impact.[8]


  1. Poverty and disaster risk are two closely related challenges, one can not be tackled without addressing the other. Disasters disproportionately affect poor countries and erode development gains.
  • Strengthen the resilience of families and systems to shocks. Special attention should be given to safe schools as education is key to promote stability, security and justice.


Only by focusing on the ones we are not reaching we can reduce inequality and promote inclusive sustainable growth.



it always seems impossible until it’s done.

Nelson Mandela


[1] Preamble Universal Declaration of Human Rights

[2] Global trends and their implementation for children in the 21st century, UNICEF 2013

[3] NIls Kastberg, retired UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean

[4] The Synthesis report of the Secretary General ‘The road to Dignity by 2030

[5] A post-2015 world fit for children issue brief, 2015

[6] HIV-Sensitive Social Protection Policy Brief, UNICEF, Economic Policy Research Institute, University of Oxford UNDP, USAID, The transfer Project, 2015

[7] Generation 2013|Africa, UNICEF2014

[8] Corporate Social Responsibility, UNICEF 2014

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Promoting inclusiveness in the Dutch policy agenda on trade and international cooperation

This contribution is part of a consultation for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs on how to promote inclusiveness in the Dutch policy agenda on trade and international cooperation.
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Ministery of Foreign Affairs


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