At the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, leaders issued the Kigali Declaration on Child Care and Protection Reform – a milestone declaration that committed the Commonwealth to ensure the social protection and safeguarding of children and young people. It lays down potential actions to better protect children and young people across the Commonwealth from abuse, violence, exploitation and neglect. 

On 23 February 2023, the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Social Development Division and civil society organisations, including It’s a Penalty, organised a roundtable discussion to convene key stakeholders to discuss how to effectively implement the Declaration.

The roundtable aimed to encourage collective action and knowledge sharing across the Commonwealth. In the Declaration, leaders stressed the importance of enabling best practices for learning and sharing between Commonwealth states to implement a holistic and comprehensive approach to tackle violence against children.

Participants of the Roundtable advocated for Commonwealth-wide collaborative action to better protect children. “This is just one of many areas where the Commonwealth can make a real difference…We can all work together to prioritise support for, investment in, and reform of child care and protection services – to enable children to live without abuse or discrimination of any kind; to enjoy their civil, political, social and cultural rights; and to flourish as equal, valued and productive human beings.” said Honorable Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth. “We cannot afford to fail our children, so we must give their wellbeing the priority it deserves – and act together to ensure that every child in the Commonwealth is safe, protected and able to reach their full potential.”

Drawing on the expertise and experience of care and protection reform for children and youth among stakeholders from across the Commonwealth, the Roundtable identified priority areas for future action and highlighted the need to develop a roadmap for action. It touched upon the importance of future collaboration between Commonwealth governments and civil society organisations, and agreement that the improvement of child care and protection systems must be achieved through empowering and supporting families – acknowledging child protection as an interconnected subject across sectors, including health, education, safety and relationships, and must be addressed as such.