Baker McKenzie and Consortium for Street Children Help to Empower Street Children Worldwide
- The General Comment on Children in Street Situations has now been published by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
- A General Comment is the UN’s legal advice to governments around the world on how to ensure that street connected children have access to the same rights as all children.
Leading global law firm Baker McKenzie, along with Consortium of Street Children (CSC) and the private sector, has been working on supporting the publication of the UN's General Comment on Children in Street Situations for seven years. This authoritative guidance to Governments will inform them on how best to bridge this gap and realise street-connected children’s rights. This campaign was led by The Consortium for Street Children, a global network that exists to give street children a voice, promote their rights and improve their lives
Baker McKenzie's pro bono initiative involved a collaboration with the in-house legal teams of some of their global clients, arranging a series of consultations that reached around 1,000 children around the world. These consultation events provided a unique opportunity for children who depend on the streets to be at the centre of developing this ground-breaking international United Nations’ guidance that will revolutionise how governments across the globe protect, support and tailor services to the needs of children in street situations.
Over 40 Baker McKenzie in-house attorneys came together, led by Pro Bono Partner, Angela Vigil, to contribute to the pro bono legal research and analysis in advance of the consultation events, which provided context for the reports that helped inform into the General Comment. The Firm collaborated with some of their key clients on this campaign, including Abbvie, Amazon, Cargill, CNH, Merck, Salesforce and Starbucks.
Baker McKenzie also worked alongside CSC and in-house legal teams from eight multi-national corporations, to take the UN General Comment from paper to practice through the development of an on-line "Legal Atlas for Street Children" tracking tool. This has involved “mapping” the existence of laws, policies and procedures in each country to help them to learn from each other, measure their own efforts and better devise ways to meet the expectations of the UN.
There are at least 100 million street-connected children in the world (UNICEF), and increasingly younger children are affected. They experience violence, stigma and discrimination, and are often unable to access food, clean water, shelter, healthcare and basic services. They have no influential lobby groups, spokespeople or media profile. The UN General Comment on Children in Street Situations aims to change that.
Speaking after the General Comment was published, Baker McKenzie's Pro Bono Partner, Angela Vigil said, "We are thrilled to be a part of this momentous occasion, which has taken many years to achieve. Realizing children’s rights is an integral part of Baker McKenzie's pro bono strategy, so we are very proud to be involved in this collaboration. Our work isn't over yet and we will continue to collaborate with the CSC and other partners as countries begin to implement the UN's advice."
CEO of Consortium for Street Children, Caroline Ford, said “We are delighted to work in partnership with internationally recognised law firm Baker McKenzie. Their commitment to making street connected children's voices heard has already begun to have an impact. We look forward to building on this momentous achievement together in order to make a huge difference for all street-connected children”.