IBBY: ‘Every Child in the World Deserves To Be Protected’

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

IBBY urges ‘all global leaders to work together on behalf of the children of Gaza,’ in a careful, thoughtful, non-accusatory statement.

A December 2021 drone image of Gaza City’s Al-Rimal, a district much of which was reported on October 25, 2023, to have been ‘reduced to rubble’ by airstrikes in a story for the Financial Times by Mai Khaled, Lucy Rodgers, Sam Joiner, Dan Clark, Irene de la Torre Arenas, and Steven Bernard. Image – Getty iStockphoto Soliman Hijjy

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘To Work Together on Behalf of the Children’
As the emergency in the Gaza Strip wears on, the executive committee of the International Board on Books for Young People, known as IBBY, has issued a statement on “The Ongoing Violations of Children’s Rights in Gaza.” Making no charges of blame or fault, IBBY’s leadership simply speaks for the thousands of youngsters who, after months of violence, remain in harm’s way.

“The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) stands by the principles endorsed in the United Nations Human Rights Conventions,” the statement opens, “especially the Convention on the Rights of the Child, urging all global leaders to work together on behalf of the children of Gaza.”

IBBY, seen by many as the world’s leading agency on children’s literature, issued a first statement in November, calling for both a ceasefire and a release of hostages in Gaza.

This new statement, distributed on Monday (June 17) to the news media, coincides with new commentary on the violence in Gaza released today (June 18) by Volker Türk, the United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights in support of his opening comments to the 56th session of the Human Rights Council, seated in Geneva today through July 12.

While varying and often disputed casualty figures have been one of the most vexing elements of the Israel-Hamas conflict for those trying to assess its toll, Türk’s office says, “More than 120,000 people in Gaza, overwhelmingly women and children, have been killed or injured since October 7.”

And the International Board on Books for Young People’s statement reflects the struggle many in the book publishing industry and other disciplines have encountered in trying to assert a call for protection and sustenance for innocent victims amid a contentious, politicized scenario.

Here is how IBBY’s executive committee writes its argument, demanding better for victims:

“IBBY was born in the aftermath of World War II with the unflinching belief that international understanding is a necessary condition for tolerance and world peace.

“As we watch the continuing violence and destruction in Gaza, we mourn for the children and families who are killed, injured, displaced, and orphaned.”IBBY, executive committee

“By promoting quality children’s books and reading, it has contributed to making the ideals of solidarity, respect, and cooperation known to children and young people all around the world.

“IBBY has helped build and grow libraries and reading programs for children worldwide, including in Beit Hanoun and Rafah in Palestine. Established in 2008, these were safe places filled with more than 5,000 books, [places] where children could read, share thoughts, write poems, meet authors, and even win awards—such as the UNESCO World Tales competition won by a young member of the al-Shawka library in Rafah in 2021

“Those libraries have now been destroyed, but the loss of these cultural and childhood touchstones is only a small part of the tragedy in Palestine.

“As we watch the continuing violence and destruction in Gaza, we mourn for the children and families who are killed, injured, displaced, and orphaned. We deplore the chaos and confusion that dominates their daily lives, and the lack of basic human necessities of food, water, shelter, and medical aid.

“Every child in the world deserves to be protected and nurtured. We condemn the ongoing violations of children’s basic rights in Gaza.

“IBBY adds its voice to the urgent calls for access to humanitarian aid and life-saving supplies for the people of Gaza. Further, we strongly urge the leaders of Israel and Hamas to comply with the international rulings and resolutions to enact an immediate ceasefire.”

In his report today to the UN Human Rights Council in Switzerland, Türk has referenced not only the crisis in Gaza but also in the West Bank, as well as impact on people in Israel and Lebanon.

Referring to the “global cost of war,” Türk reports that the number of civilian deaths in armed conflict (worldwide) in 2023, spiked by 72 percent. In 2023, the office of the high commissioner for human rights has determined that compared to figures from 2022, “the proportion of women killed doubled and that of children tripled.”

Humanitarian aid trucks at the Kerem Shalom Crossing between Israel and Gaza. Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt at The New York Times on June 18 report that the temporary pier the US military built ‘to rush humanitarian aid to Gaza has largely failed in its mission.’  The Pentagon, according to a new CNN report from Oren Liebermann in Tel Aviv, has said it plans to try to regain the pier’s usefulness later this week. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Wirestock

More from Publishing Perspectives on children’s literature is here, more on IBBY is here, and more on publishing and political dynamics is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.