Child Helpline International announces new Special Advisors

It is our great honour to announce that Marta Santos Pais and Benyam Dawit Mezmur are joining as Special Advisors to the Supervisory Board of Child Helpline International.

Since September 2009 Marta Santos Pais has been the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children. As a high level global independent advocate, Marta promotes the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against children everywhere, online or offline, in the home, in institutional care, in schools, in the workplace and in the community. She acts a bridge builder in all regions and across all sectors and settings where violence against children can occur. She is strongly committed to mobilising action and political support to maintain momentum around this agenda and to achieve steady progress in ending violence against children around the world. Her high level of expertise and experience will be crucial in helping us accelerate the implementation of the strategy and work of Child Helpline International and our members.

Benyam Dawit Mezmur is Associate Professor of Law at the Dullah Omar Institute for Constitutional Law, Governance and Human Rights at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. He is the former Chair of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and served as Vice-Chairperson from 2013 to 2015 and then as Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child from 2016 to 2018. Benyam has lectured masters’ courses and supervised students on children’s rights, the rights of person with disabilities, international protection of human rights, international family law, and the African rights system. He coordinates and conducts research on children’s rights in a number of African countries and has been involved in institutional efforts aimed at providing technical support to governments through UN agencies such as UNICEF. In addition he is involved in advocacy work on the rights of the child with treaty bodies at the UN, the Human Rights Council, and regionally. Pope Francis also recently appointed him as a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. His wealth of experience, and expertise and knowledge of the United Nations Convention for the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) will be of great value to the child helpline network. The UNCRC was the first Treaty to recognise the voices of children by establishing the right of every child to express their views, concerns and problems.

Child Helpline International was born out of the belief that every child should be heard. This is the driving force behind our promotion and support of easily-accessible national child helplines worldwide. Our network in over 140 countries allows children to express their views and concerns, and to receive advice, assistance and protection from abuse and exploitation. Through listening to and helping children and young people we can help them help themselves.

We strongly believe that Marta Santos Pais and Benyam Dawit Mezmur will bring talent, expertise and energy the spirit of our mission and to our important agenda. We are very fortunate to have them by our side as we continue to ensure that no child is left unheard. And Child Helpline International looks forward to working with them both as we strive to become even more valuable to our child helpline network and, ultimately, for children all over the world.

We warmly welcome Marta and Benyam!