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I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
Child, early and forced marriage is a human rights violation and a harmful practice that disproportionately affects women and girls globally. Every year at least 12 million girls are married before they reach the age of 18. This is 28 girls every minute.
These women and girls are robbed of their agency to make decisions about their lives. Their education is usually disrupted, they become more vulnerable to violence, discrimination and abuse, and they are prevented from fully participating in the economic, political and social spheres of life. It is not right and it is not fair. It must end.
The international community is united in its condemnation of child, early and forced marriage. This Council and the General Assembly have repeatedly and unanimously adopted resolutions calling on states to enact laws and policies to prevent and eliminate this harmful practice. And we have seen concrete progress across the globe thanks in part to our collective efforts here at the United Nations to raise awareness of the issue and to encourage each other to do better.
The EU on its side is working closely with civil society and the UN in over 30 countries to address child marriage through enhanced access to education and healthcare. This is also a priority of the EU-UN Spotlight initiative launched two years ago.
Despite our collective efforts, child, early and forced marriage remains widespread. At current pace, we will not reach target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Agenda to eliminate this practice by 2030. This is why a resolution at this session of the HRC is so important. We thank the core group for presenting an ambitious and balanced draft resolution on the matter, outlining concrete actions for further work, notably in the areas of education, health and economic development.
Today, we have an opportunity to come together once again and send a strong message to all those at risk or impacted by child, early and forced marriage that they are not alone and will not be left behind. We reaffirm our full support to this cross-regional initiative for a global problem, which deserves a global answer.