HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the Convention on the Rights of the Child!

[20 November 2007] - The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is 18-years-old today. The symbolism of the anniversary has not been missed on NGOs and child rights advocates, who have highlighted the importance of the treaty on the day it attains adulthood.

CRIN today launches a brand new section of its website, a huge database providing information on international, regional and national legislation and policy about child rights. We want children and advocates to know their rights, and be better able to challenge breaches. We hope this will support and feed advocacy initiatives, and promote implementation and respect for the Convention on the Rights of the Child. You can visit the database at: http://www.crin.org/Law/  

UNICEF celebrated the achievements of the CRC, and highlighted the challenges that remain. “The lives of many of today’s children tell us a story of tremendous change brought about by the Convention,” said Philip O’Brien, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe during a round table discussion with children and young people at Geneva’s Palais des Nations. “During the last two decades, millions have gained access to education, and fewer are dying of preventable diseases. Let’s celebrate what has been achieved – and then renew our commitment to create a world, where all children have all their rights fulfilled.”

DCI Palestine said that since the start of its occupation of the Palestinian territory in 1967, Israel has carried out policies and practices that have continuously violated Palestinian children's civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. These violations did not cease with Israel's ratification of the Convention in 1991. On the contrary, they escalated and reached unprecedented levels during the second Intifada . Between 1991 and September 2000 (period preceding the second Intifada ) 249 Palestinian children were killed as a result of Israeli military activity in the occupied territory, and since the start of the second Intifada (September 2000) 899 Palestinian children were killed by Israeli military activity.

These violations demonstrate, according to a DCI statement, that other States Parties to the UNCRC have failed to take measures, according to their individual and collective responsibility under the Convention, to place pressure on a State Party violating the Convention.

CRAG noted that as the world’s most ratified international convention reaches the age of majority, EU leaders have finally recognised that children are citizens too with the Lisbon Treaty which will mark the first time children’s rights have been included in the internal and external objectives of the EU.

“18 million children in the EU are living in relative poverty – almost one in five. Globally, 38 per cent of the world’s population is under the age of 18. That figure rises to 50 per cent in the least developed countries. The majority of these children are living in poverty. Serious violations of children’s rights including violence against children, trafficking in children, and inadequate judicial processes for children in conflict with the law take place daily in Europe and around the world”, a press release said.

The NGO Action Group on the EU Child Rights Strategy is calling for:

• The launch of a Green Paper consultation - including with children - leading to a comprehensive EU Strategy, a child rights White Paper, by end 2009.

• The allocation of sufficient financial and human resources for the EC to act on its commitments – including a dedicated Child Rights coordination unit.

• The EU to set out its vision for meaningful and safe child participation at EU level, particularly in the planned EU Forum on child rights.

Tom Miller, Plan chief executive, warned there can be “no more excuses” for failing to protect children from violence.

“Targets to promote children’s rights should be given the same status as the Millennium Development Goals and a UN Special Representative should be appointed with powers to hold countries to account if they fail to protect children,” said Mr Miller at Plan Headquarters.

Throughout the world, millions of children are being physically and emotionally punished, often by those charged with looking after them. Despite signing the Convention, fewer than 10 per cent (18) of the 193 countries worldwide have declared a total ban on corporal punishment and a staggering 117 states and dependent territories continue to allow children to be beaten at school.

Each year, 53,000 children are murdered, 223 million (150 million girls and 73 million boys) suffer forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence, up to 140 million girls and women undergo some form of female genital mutilation, 126 million children are involved in the most hazardous forms of child labour and 1.2 million children are victims of trafficking.

Mr Miller added: “Children’s rights are human rights. States must be reminded that violence against children is a serious crime and a violation of children’s rights under international law.

“International human rights law requires states to ‘fulfil,’ ‘respect’ and ‘promote’ the rights of children and adults - not merely to “protect” them. These rights should be respected immediately, not promised for some point in the distant future or denied because of resource considerations.”

Meanwhile, Save the Children in Wales said it remains a national disgrace that:

  • 28 per cent of children in Wales are living in poverty (approximately 170,000 children).
  • That ‘looked after children’ (children in care) experience poor educational outcomes.
  • Disabled children feel distressed that their views are not taken as seriously as other children and that they have trouble accessing services that they desperately need.
  • Gypsy/Traveller children have the poorest life expectancy of any ethnic group in Wales.
  • Children’s mental health services are in a state of crisis.

Keith Towler, Chair of the UNCRC Monitoring Group & Save the Children’s Programme Director for Wales, said: “The Welsh Assembly Government have their vision, policies and strategies right for children, now they need to commit resources to make this a reality on the ground. The UK Government need to put children first and give a clear commitment to children’s rights.”

World Vision said the time has come for all of Africa to act in the best interests of its children and to create a safer Africa fit for its children.

World Vision’s Regional Vice President for the Africa Region, Professor Wilfred Mlay said:

“When conflicts erupt, often the majority of the victims will be Children. Equally, when disasters hit communities those that are most affected are the Children. Perhaps most tragically and most preventable is the fact that when budgets for health care and education are cut in developing countries, the majority of those who suffer are Children”.

 

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