2007 round-up

A big year for child rights was crowned last month with the follow-up to the UN Special Session on Children in New York. Many participants agreed that the success of the event, which was spread over several days, hinged on the participation of children and NGOs. Although many were cheered and inspired by the enthusiasm and dedication of the children, some also lamented the disproportionate amount of time given to State delegates during the plenary session and one of the roundtable discussions.

You can read all about the event in our special CRINMAIL, which documents the Children’s Forum, roundtable and interactive discussions, the meeting of children’s Ombudspersons, and two of the side events.

Also in November, there was cause for celebration following the UN decision to appoint a Special Representative to the Secretary General on Violence Against Children. The decision was a real scoop for all those who campaigned tirelessly for the new role, which will help to ensure an effective follow-up to the UN Study on Violence Against Children, launched in 2006.

“It is vital to maintain the momentum created by the Violence Study and maximise its potential for achieving the necessary urgent action,” said Roberta Cecchetti of the International Save the Children Alliance and a Council co-chair. “NGOs look forward to working with the Special Representative to protect all children’s right to live free from violence.”

Read about the appointment, and why it is important, here.

The global campaign against the death penalty secured a landmark victory in December when the UN General Assembly voted in favour of a universal moratorium on executions.

Jamaica became the first country to ratify the Disability Convention, which has enshrined a raft of rights for children with disabilities into international law. Several others followed. Read more about it here.

Portugal, New Zealand, Greece, Uruguay, Venezuela and Spain were amongst those countries to ban all corporal punishment of children, with more Latin American countries looking like they may carry the momentum into 2008. Read: Ending Legalised Violence against Children - Global Report 2007

European Union leaders signed the first treaty to include children’s rights. The Lisbon Treaty will come into force only after ratification by all 27 Member States. Read more about it here. Staying in the same part of the world, the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Beings (CETS n° 197) will enter into force on 1 February 2008, after Cyprus became the tenth country to ratify it. Terry Davis, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, said: “The Convention is deliberately hard on traffickers and makes a clear difference for the victims of this crime. These victims will be offered comprehensive assistance and protection of their human rights. More on the Convention.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) launched its Charter on 20 November 2007. It codifies ASEAN norms, rules, and values which include the promotion of democracy, human rights and obligations, transparency and good governance. You never know, a regional human rights mechanism could finally be on its way!

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Child Rights Network was born and held its inaugural general meeting in Sulaimanyah from 17-19 June 2007. A group of Iraqi non-government organisations, along with child and human rights activists, recognised that Iraqi Children are being deprived of those rights enshrined by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), ratified by the Government of Iraq on 15 June 1994.

The first Ibero-American network of ombudspersons for children was created at a meeting in Lima, Peru, in November. The meeting, which brought together regional ombudspersons for children for the first time, aimed to promote information sharing about their mandate and efforts to promote, protect and monitor child rights in their country; learn from the experience of the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC); and create the new Network. The network is part of the Ibero-American Federation of Ombudspersons (FIO), which includes Latin American countries, Spain, Portugal and Andorra.

Read about the meeting for Ombudspersons at the 'World Fit for Children' follow-up event.

It has been a big year for CRIN too, with a website makeover and the launch of our new legal database among the main gains. You can now find out about regional mechanisms and what they do for child rights, work your way around the UN system and find out which child rights laws apply in your country. We launched two Reviews (formerly called the Newsletter) on the subjects of Emergencies and the 18th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The 18th birthday was celebrated across the world, sparking workshops, news stories, commitments and all round soul-searching.

Activists celebrated a landmark victory in the Czech Republic, after the Government was found guilty of practising racial discrimination by wrongly channelling Roma children into remedial education schools. A legal marathon dating to the 1990s climaxed with a ruling in Strasbourg from the European Court of Human Rights which found the Czech authorities guilty of discrimination against Roma children. See the full story.

And in another landmark case in Australia, a court finally awarded compensation to an Aboriginal man taken from his family as a baby. Bruce Trevorrow is the first member of Australia's "stolen generation" of Aborigines to win compensation. In a judgement that took 18 months to deliver, Justice Thomas Gray awarded him A$525,000 (£220,000, $447,000). Thousands of Aboriginal children were handed over to white families under Australian government assimilation policies from 1915 to 1969.

Sadly, Iran continues to kill its children. Two core international human rights treaties, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, prohibit the imposition of the death penalty for crimes committed before the age of 18. Iran has ratified both treaties. In the Occupied Palestinian Territories, children continue to be killed and have their rights breached. Read Defence for Children International’s latest shocking report.

Grave child rights violations, including recruitment into armed groups, continue in Myanmar, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a new report, calling on the Government to take measures to address the problem which is common to both State and non-State actors. Children continue to suffer in armed conflicts in Afghanistan, Colombia, Congo (Democratic Republic of), Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Uganda (northern), among others.

Looking Forward: The big issues for 2008

Countries

    Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.