The socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic could result in 13 million cases of Child Early and Forced Marriage across the globe, Zambia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) Dr Ngosa Simbyakula has cautioned.
Amb Simbyakula has told the United Nations that COVID-19 is threatening the progress made in the last decade to prevent and eliminate Child, Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM) which was estimated to be eradicated by the year 2030.
Dr Simbyakula stated that Child Early and Forced Marriage was not only a harmful practice but also a grave abuse of human rights which often jeopadised the education, health, well-being and future of millions of children in the world.
Dr Simbyakula said this during the adoption of a resolution on “Ending Child, Early and Forced Marriage” at the United Nations in New York. The resolution is co-sponsored by Zambia and Canada.
The resolution calls on the international community to take decisive action to overcome the unprecedented challenges nations are currently facing in order to protect and accelerate progress to end the vice of Early, Child and Forced Marriage.
“Before the COVID-19, we knew we needed to significantly accelerate the pace of progress to eliminate Early, Child and Forced Marriage by year 2030 as set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. COVID-19 is now threatening the progress made in the last decade to prevent and eliminate Child, Early and Forced Marriage and the socio-economic consequences of COVID-19 global pandemic could result in 13 million cases of Child Early and Forced Marriage. We cannot afford to see the hard-won progress slowed down or set back,” Dr Simbyakula said.
Dr Simbyakula informed the United Nations that the Government of Zambia was committed to ending Early, Child and Forced Marriage and was proud to have partnered with Canada and other cross-regional groups of countries to support the balanced and strong text in the resolution.
He however said Zambia was disappointed that despite the best efforts to reach the broadest possible consensus, some Member States had decided to propose amendments to the resolution whose text was balanced.
The Zambian envoy to the United Nations explained that over the past six weeks, during which Zambia and Canada co-facilitated several informal consultations, conducted three full readings of the text, invited relevant UN Agencies to brief participating delegations yet some Member States chose to table amendments to the resolution.
“We hope that for the sake of the important cause to eliminate Early Child and Forced Marriage and the integrity of the principles underlying all Third Committee negotiations, all delegations will join in adopting the draft resolution,” Dr Simbyakula said.
The resolution was however adopted by consensus with a record co-sponsorship of 114 Member States.