CRC ELECTIONS: Gehad Madi (Egypt)

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Gehad Madi, 59, from Egypt, is Egypt's Assistant Foreign Minister and Director of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps Department. Mr. Madi is a career diplomat and has been Egypt's Ambassador to the UK and India. He worked for Egypt's Mission to the UN in New York during the drafting of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Click here to read Gehad's CV in full.

Can you tell us about your experience in children's rights?
I have worked as a diplomat for 34 years. From 1986-1989, I participated in Egypt's UN Mission in New York during the negotiations to draft the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. One month after the Convention came into force, I was involved in developing the UN Special Session on Children. Since then, I have worked in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, where I was directly responsible for ensuring implementation of Egypt's human rights obligations and helped to set up the National Council for Human Rights.

I also played a key role in securing Egypt's withdrawal of its reservations on articles 20 and 21 of the Convention and Egypt's ratification of ILO Convention 182.

Why do you want to serve on the Committee?
The first time I represented my country was to work on human rights issues, so this is an area that is very dear to my heart. I would be honoured to serve on the Committee.

What do you think you can contribute to the Committee's work?
I believe a have a very diverse range of experience and am very familiar with legal texts from being involved in negotiations on the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

What has been the best achievement of your career?
I am very proud of representing my government as an ambassador both in New Delhi and London. I am also very proud of my work to help achieve consensus among many different stakeholders in my time working to negotiate human rights treaties.

Which issue in children's rights do you feel needs more attention?
The whole Convention must be invested in, but particular problems which remain and should be elaborated on include child labour, children living on the street and child trafficking. I think we also need to use the potential of information and communications technology in promoting children's rights, while at the same time, protecting them from the dangers of the internet.

What is your vision for the Committee?
The Convention on the Rights of the Child has undeniably achieved significant success in solidifying the concept of child rights, yet we have to acknowledge the necessity of adapting the CRC to the new challenges facing our children. The Committee has, over the course of many years, played a major role in initiating key initiatives on children's rights, the most recent of which was the "participation right" of children. This will hopefully lead to the adoption of a third Optional Protocol to provide a communications procedure for children enabling them to express their opinion and present complaints. I hope the Committee would continue not only to exercise its mandate but also to be a major contributor of ideas and a dynamic forum for discussions on the best ways and means of protecting the rights of the child.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the Committee?
Limited resources, time available and the significant workload are in my view the biggest challenges facing the Committee.

How do you think the Committee could work more effectively with NGOs?
One of the major features of the CRC, throughout the drafting process until the present, has been the remarkable, active and important role played by NGOs. There is no doubt that the myriad issues and challenges that we face while seeking to promote, respect and implement the human rights of children need a comprehensive approach. In this regard, NGOs, with their hands-on experience, play a critical role in raising awareness and promoting efforts at the national and international level.

I am aware of the excellent working relationship that exists between the Committee and NGOs, and there is room for improvement, perhaps by allocating more time available for interaction with NGOs.

If you were not working in children's rights, what would you be doing?
Since I am retiring from my official position at the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs next year, I would probably find more time to fulfil many of my postponed plans. On a personal level, I would certainly devote more time to my 12 year old daughter. Professionally, I would use my diverse experience in diplomacy, politics, international law and human rights in a manner that is satisfactory to me and my family.

Can you sum up children's rights in one word?
I would say: securing a dignified present to ensure a productive future for our children.

pdf: http://www.crin.org/docs/GehadMadiCV.doc

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