United Nations: General Assembly Calls on Governments to End Child, Early and Forced Marriage
Friday, December 19, 2014 1:20 PM

On December 18, the United Nations General Assembly formally adopted a comprehensive resolution urging all members to end child, early and forced marriage. This action marks the first time the U.N. has adopted a substantive resolution recognizing child, early and forced marriage as a harmful practice that violates the human rights of women and girls. The resolution calls on states to “enact, enforce and uphold laws and policies preventing and ending child, early and forced marriage and protecting those at risk and to ensure that marriage is entered into only with the informed, free and full consent of the intending spouses.”

The resolution notes child, early and forced marriage increases girls’ “vulnerability to all forms of violence “ and poses serious risks to their health through dangerous pregnancies and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. It also recognizes that child, early and forced marriage limits girls’ access to education and is a barrier to economic development that perpetuates the cycle of poverty. 

The resolution was initiated by Canada and Zambia and sponsored by 116 countries. Although the resolution is non-binding on member states, the organization Girls Not Brides said it still sends an important message to the global community. The group stated, “[t]his resolution proves that there is international consensus to act now to [protect] millions of girls who suffer each year through early and forced marriage.”

Fifteen million girls a year are denied their fundamental rights due to child marriage, according to the resolution and Girls Not Brides.

Compiled fromBaird Lauds UN Resolution on Child Marriage, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada News Release (December 18, 2014); Promotion and protection of the rights of children, U.N. General Assembly, 69th Session (December 5, 2014); CARE Celebrates UN General Assembly’s Resolution on Child, Early and Forced Marriage, CARE and Girls Not Brides (December 1, 2014); Donath, Mirjam, United Nations Members Resolve to End Child Marriage, Reuters (November. 24, 2014).