Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, United States

Panel discussion on Child, Early and Forced Marriage Worldwide

5 September 2014

INTERVENTION BY Karel van Oosterom, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations in Panel discussion on Child, Early and Forced Marriage Worldwide.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands warmly welcomes all speakers to the panel and would like to thank the Office of the President of the General Assembly for organizing this panel discussion on Child, Early and Forced Marriage Worldwide. 

As mentioned in the concept note for this meeting, Child, Early and Forced Marriages are undermining six out of the eight Millennium Development Goals. In its outcome document of July 2014, the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development has taken up Child, Early & Forced Marriage as a specific target for the post-2015 agenda. While this is good news, we will have to remain vigilant to ensure it stays on the agenda during the upcoming negotiations. 

The consequences of Child, Early & Forced Marriages are all encompassing. The Netherlands sees ending Child, Early & Forces Marriages in a broader context of rights, of health and development. Child, Early & Forced Marriages entrap young women and girls in relationships that deprive them of their basic human rights. The physical and psychological health consequences of these marriages can be devastating and enduring. An early marriage seriously hinders girls’ human development and education. All these things are fundamental for sustainable development. The negative effects of this all for society as a whole are well-documented.

In order to eradicate the practice of Child, Early & Forced Marriages we must invest in girls’ empowerment, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), poverty alleviation and education and in tackling the root causes of violence against women and girls. Discriminatory laws and practices that impede the human rights of women and girls need to be eliminated. Above all there is a need to change social norms that promote or condone child marriages among parents and in communities. 

For the year 2014-2017, The Netherlands has contributed a total of $20 million to UNICEF for its work in the field of ending child marriages. The funds will be used for programs in Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Yemen, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Niger.

Before I close off, I would like to ask the panelists the following: 

There seems to be broad consensus about including Child, Early & Forced Marriages in de post 2015 agenda. How can we make sure that this goal is being reached without polarization and counterproductive discussions about e.g. definitions?    

Thank you