UN General Assembly adopts resolution on child, early and forced marriage
Explore the Resolution and what it says about child marriage, what it calls on the UN and Member States to do, and the full list of co-sponsors. Use our template letter to maintain international pressure on Member States to implement their commitments.
On 15 November, the United Nations General Assembly’s Third Committee adopted a resolution to end child, early and forced marriage (CEFM). Led by Canada and Zambia, the resolution was adopted by consensus with broad cross-regional support. The 125 co-sponsors include several new and returning countries – like Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Nepal – where CEFM prevalence is high.
Key gains include the focus on the multiple and intersecting factors that put girls – and particularly adolescent girls and girls from other marginalised populations – at risk, and progressive language on their sexual and reproductive rights, education and autonomy.
“The resolution highlights the urgent need to reach the poorest and most marginalized girls and women – those who are the hardest to reach – while calling upon the international community to step up efforts to accelerate progress to end CEFM, including for girls and women in vulnerable situations.”Joint Ministerial statement on behalf of the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of International Development
Civil society organisations played a key role in calling on governments to support the resolution. Now everyone can maintain international pressure on Member States to implement their commitments, using our template letter.
What does this resolution say about child marriage?
This year’s resolution builds on gains made in the 2020 UN General Assembly Resolution on Child, Early and Forced Marriage, and the Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution “Child, early and forced marriage in times of crisis, including the COVID-19 pandemic” and includes important additions. In particular it:
- Builds on past progressive language on issues like sexuality education, sexual and reproductive rights, and control over sexuality/autonomy.
- Includes strengthened language on adolescents as a distinct and priority at-risk group, girls’ participation, sexual and gender-based violence, unpaid care and domestic work, bridging the gender digital divide, the removal of legal loopholes, and the impact of COVID-19, climate change and conflict.
- References multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination for the first time.
- Preserves references to all these issues while maintaining consensus at a time of fraught negotiation around gender equality and girls’ and women’s rights in multilateral fora.
What does the resolution call on the UN and Member States to do?
The resolution calls for governments and the international community to take specific actions, including:
- To develop and implement holistic, comprehensive and coordinated age- and gender-responsive, victim-centred and multisectoral responses and strategies to prevent and end CEFM.
- To enact, enforce and uphold laws and policies to prevent and end CEFM.
- To support and raise awareness of the harmful effects of CEFM, issues affecting children and adolescents and their rights.
- To recognise that education is one of the most effective ways to address CEFM, and to remove barriers to education by investing in quality, safe primary and secondary education for every child.
Which countries co-sponsored the resolution?
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Rwanda, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tunisia, Türkiye, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America, Uzbekistan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
During this resolution we saw some returning co-sponsors including Afghanistan, Armenia, Burundi, Chad, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Seychelles, South Sudan, and the United States.
Among the co-sponsors were many new faces that sponsored for the first time, including, Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius, Nepal, Palau and Sri Lanka.
Many of these countries have a high prevalence of CEFM and cosponsoring the resolution for the first time demonstrates their political commitment to ending the practice. During this process, Nepal informally indicated their intention to join the CEFM Resolution Core Group, a group of countries who are highly engaged and supportive of the resolution, which would make them the only representative from South Asia in this group.
In the time it has taken to read this article 46 girls under the age of 18 have been married
Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18
That is 23 girls every minute
Nearly 1 every 2 seconds