A more recent good example of leadership is the Holy’s Father’s decision to place the Pontifical Commission within the Roman Curia, with a view to allow for a more proactive safeguarding agenda as a sign for all to see of the Church’s care for the vulnerable and commitment to those who have been most grievously harmed.
“Whether progress is taking too long appears to be an open debate in some quarters,” he continues. “But it is absolutely true that progress is happening on the ground.”
Mezmur was recently asked to renew his service on the Pontifical Commission for another five years, and he will continue as a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in addition to his roles at Harvard Law and elsewhere. As he looks to the future, Mezmur is cautiously optimistic about the path of children’s rights. “Our understanding of child dignity, childhood, as well as the efforts needed to create a world that is fit for all children has significantly changed in the last decade, and more so in the last 30 years,” he says.
There are plenty of setbacks, though, and improvement has not always been steady or evenly distributed. Child labor has increased to 160 million, marking a stall on progress for the first time in two decades, says Mezmur, while educational opportunities for many around the world have withered. “For example, COVID-19 wreaked havoc on access to education and exacerbated a lot of the learning outcomes for many children, he says. “We used to talk about an education gap. Now we talk about an education gulf, especially in relation to children with disabilities, girls, and those without access to the internet.”