Since the early years of her career working with children in some of the direst situations in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Susan Bissell, UNICEF’s Chief of Child Protection, has witnessed children being targeted for such exploitative practices as human trafficking, recruitment into armed forces, and child labor. Violations of the child’s right to protection take place in every country and are massive, under-recognized, and under-reported barriers to child survival and development, in addition to being human rights violations. Children subjected to violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect are at risk of death, poor physical and mental health, HIV/AIDS infection, educational problems, displacement, and vagrancy.
Protecting children from violence, exploitation and abuse is an integral component of protecting their rights to survival, growth, and development. UNICEF advocates and supports the creation of a protective environment for children in partnership with governments, national and international partners including the private sector, and civil society. Bissell guides UNICEF’s Child Protection program in 170 countries, working with government officials and other partners to shape child protection policies. During this discussion, she will provide an overview of her role at UNICEF and the work she does to help ensure that governments honor their commitments to strengthen child protection systems and protect children.
In 2009, Susan Bissell was appointed to her current position in New York, heading all of UNICEF’s Child Protection work. She oversees a team of professionals guiding efforts for children affected by armed conflict, child protection systems strengthening to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against children, and a range of other matters.