This initiative and publication are the result of the efforts by the Uruguayan Committee for the Rights of the Child together with Save the Children Sweden. Its objective is to visualise how and to what extent children are discriminated against and what legal means there are to counteract these discriminations and to protect children.
The book is meant to be a springboard to trigger debate, make the problem better known, to serve for training purposes and public mobilisation in order to bring about attitude changes and legal measures.
The base and framework for the initiative is the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. When it came in 1989 it was a real push to change the perception of the child and to provide a legal base making it compulsory for signatories to guarantee the rights of the child. Adults are responsible to guarantee the implementation of the rights of the child. This is not a mere declaration of good intentions it is an international law. The principles of equality and non-discrimination are fundamental for the protection of human rights. Equality in the sense that we are all equal before the law and justice, we have all the right to be treated the same way and that this is not only the responsibility of the State but of everybody and it includes equality of opportunities. According to the UN Committee on Human Rights, discrimination is “all distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference which are based on motives like race, colour of skin, sex, language, religion, political opinion or opinion of equivalent nature, national or social origin, economic position, birth or other social condition and that have as objective or result to nullify or diminish the recognition, benefit or exercise, on equal terms, of all human rights and fundamental liberties of all persons”. In this book, factors that lead to situations of poverty, which has a great bearing on the lives of boys and girls, are spelt out – such as the exercise of power, ideologies and politics. The discrimination that derives from this is readily identified like the mere fact to be a child and not an adult, to belong to an ethnic minority group, to be disabled, to be a girl or a boy, to live in specific socio-economic conditions, to have sexual preferences, etc.
The highlight of the book is the testimony of the children on how they themselves look upon discrimination.
The publication also includes international and national ways and means that are available to provide protection of children’s human rights in cases of discriminatory treatment. It brings up the responsibility of the State and the civil society to act in cases of discrimination and encourages the inclusion and participation of the children themselves in the knowledge and exercise of their rights with the aim to prevent and diminish discrimination.