Clinton Global Initiative 2023: Uniting for Children in Conflict Zones and Ukraine's Future

Clinton Global Initiative 2023: Uniting for Children in Conflict Zones and Ukraine's Future
Source: ©Clinton Global Initiative/Flickr


Emily Wolfe 

Europe and Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) has taken center stage at this year’s U.N. General Assembly Week with a renewed focus on addressing the global challenges that affect vulnerable populations, particularly children caught in conflict zones. The CGI's annual conference, held in New York, kicked off Monday, September 18th, with the overarching theme, "Keep Going," emphasising the importance of sustained efforts to address global challenges. It serves as a rallying call for political, business, and philanthropic leaders to come together, echoing the belief that collective actions, no matter how small, can lead to meaningful change.

One of the most poignant moments at this year's CGI came from actor and humanitarian Orlando Bloom. In his impassioned address, Bloom emphasised the critical importance of ensuring children’s rights to education and access to education, especially in conflict-ridden areas such as Ukraine. He drew attention to the devastating impact of the war on Ukrainian children, comparing it to a war on innocence. Bloom highlighted the urgent need for digital learning opportunities, acknowledging that education must continue even in the most dire circumstances.

In a remarkable personal commitment, Orlando Bloom pledged to fundraise a substantial $20 million to UNICEF, aiming to provide laptops to all Ukrainian children in need by the end of 2024. In just the first day of the conference, $4.5 million has already been delivered, benefitting over 16,000 children. This initiative is a beacon of hope, offering access to education in situations where traditional schooling is not feasible. The global scale of displacement and the challenges faced by refugee children were central themes at CGI this year, as Bloom called upon world leaders to do more to ensure access to education for children in conflict zones, emphasising that education is their passport to a brighter future.

High Commissioner for Refugees Fillipo Grandi echoed similar sentiments, shedding light on the plight of refugee children. He reported that a staggering 7 million children have been affected by conflicts, with 5 million forced to flee their homes. Grandi's sobering statistics underscored the urgency of addressing the global refugee crisis.

CGI’s focus on vulnerable populations during this year's U.N. General Assembly Week has underscored the ever-pressing need for unified efforts in addressing the challenges faced by children in conflict zones. Through the impassioned appeals of figures like Orlando Bloom and the data presented by High Commissioner Fillipo Grandi, it becomes abundantly clear that the global community must prioritize and champion the rights of children to education and safety. As the theme "Keep Going" suggests, it is not merely enough to acknowledge these challenges but to persistently act and innovate. The generous pledges and collaborative spirit seen at this conference exemplify the belief that with continued effort and unity, significant change is attainable. For the millions of affected children, it's not just about education, but about shaping a more hopeful and resilient future.