Eglantyne Jebb co-founded the global child rights organisation Save the Children with her sister, Dorothy Buxton, in 1919, as a response to the suffering of children in Germany and Austria-Hungary at the end of World War I. Declaring that all children should have rights, she became one of the world’s most influential champions for children.
She wrote the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child, a critical document outlining the unique rights of children. The Geneva Declaration was endorsed by the League of Nations in 1924 and this year marks its 100th anniversary of affirming the universality of children’s rights.
Jebb died in Geneva in 1928 and was laid to rest in the city’s St George’s cemetery. The move to the Cemetery of Kings is an honour only bestowed on those who have made a significant impact on the lives of others.
Among 350 notable figures already buried in the cemetery are the Protestant reformer John Calvin, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello, and one the presidents of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Gustave Moynier.
Michel Anglade, Director of Save the Children’s Office in Geneva, said:
“One hundred years ago, a courageous woman named Eglantyne Jebb founded Save the Children in response to the terrible suffering children were facing as a result of war.
“Armed with ideas ahead of her time, Eglantyne Jebb changed the course of history when she declared that all children should have rights. This revolutionary idea sparked a global movement aimed at making the world a better place for children. It also helped shape the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“We are proud and humbled to join members of Eglantyne’s family and leading child rights defenders to acknowledge the legacy and impact of this incredible woman, and as an organisation we remain committed to living up to her legacy and standing up for children’s rights whenever they are threatened.”
Christina Kitsos, Administrative Advisor for the City of Geneva, said:
"This year marks the centenary of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, a groundbreaking document drafted by Eglantyne Jebb and adopted by the League of Nations in 1924.
“Eglantyne Jebb has a rightful place in the Cimetière des Rois, home to personalities who have contributed to Geneva's influence. Geneva, the city of Rousseau and Piaget, had a duty to recognise this pioneer of children's rights, whose work has been invisible for too long.
“The City of Geneva is proud to honour the memory of a woman whose message is so powerful and remains so relevant today."
Philip Jaffé, a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, said:
“The Declaration of Geneva and its endorsement by the League of Nations 100 years ago started a long process which led in 1989 to the adoption of the United Convention on the Rights of the Child, a legally-binding convention ratified by almost every country in the world. We cannot underestimate the key role Eglantyne Jebb played in the Geneva of the early 1920s to promote children’s rights and their universality”
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NOTE TO EDITORS:
Save the Children champions the rights and interests of children worldwide, and works in about 115 countries. We respond to major emergencies, deliver innovative development programmes, and ensure children's voices are heard through our campaigning. In 2022 we reached about 118 million children.