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UNICEF celebrates 30 years of child rights

Shahudha Mohamed
19 November 2019, MVT 12:17
Heads of State and Government from (bottom to top) Mozambique, Monaco, Mexico, Maldives, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Lebanon, Kuwait, Japan - representing all major regions of the world - are only 9 of the 71 leaders who spent 30 September 1990 discussing the problems and destiny of children at the World Summit for Children. PHOTO: UNICEF
Shahudha Mohamed
19 November 2019, MVT 12:17

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), on Monday, celebrated 30 years since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

On the occasion, UNICEF acknowledged the achievements of the past three decades which serves as "proof that where there is political will and determination, children’s lives improve".

Despite the wins, however, UNICEF highlighted that many of the poorest children are yet to feel the impact of the convention.

"There have been impressive gains for children over the past three decades, as more and more are living longer, better and healthier lives. However, the odds continue to be stacked against the poorest and most vulnerable", said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

Noting that children today have to contend with new threats like climate change, online abuse and cyberbullying in addition to the persistent challenges of health, nutrition and education, Fore stated that "only with innovation, new technologies, political will and increased resources will we help translate the vision of the Convention on the Rights of the Child into a reality for all children everywhere".

During the past three decades, the global under-five mortality rate dropped by about 60 percent while the proportion of primary-school-aged children not in school decreased from 18 percent to eight percent.

Moreover, UNICEF's report noted that the guiding principles of the CRC, which include non-discrimination, the best interests of the child, the right to life, survival and development; and the right to protection, have influenced numerous constitutions, laws, policies and practices globally.

On the flipside, UNICEF revealed that in low and middle-income countries, children from the poorest households are twice as likely to die from preventable causes before their fifth birthday than children from the richest households.

According to recent available data, only half of children from the poorest households in sub-Saharan Africa are vaccinated against measles, compared to 85 per cent of children from the richest households.

Furthermore, despite a decline in child marriage rates globally, UNICEF states that the poorest girls in some countries are more at risk today than they were in 1989.

As per UNICEF's report, the age-old and new threats affecting children around the world include:

- Poverty, discrimination and marginalization which continue to leave millions of the most disadvantaged children at risk

- Climate crisis, as children are physically, physiologically and epidemiologically most at risk of the impacts

- The slowdown in immunisation coverage rates over the past decade threatening to reverse hard-won gain in children’s health, although more children are immunised than ever before

- Stagnation suffered by the number of out-of-school children while learning outcomes for those in school remain poor

To accelerate progress in advancing child rights, and to address stagnation and backsliding in some of these rights, the report calls for more data and evidence, scaling up proven solutions and interventions, expanding resources, involving young people in co-creating solutions, and applying the principles of equity and gender equality in programming.

"But it also recognizes that while all these elements are necessary to bring about change, our rapidly changing world also requires new modalities to confront emerging opportunities and challenges, and to truly embed the rights of children as a global cause again", said UNICEF.

Over the next 12 months, UNICEF plans to undertake a global dialogue on measures that can be taken to make the promise of the convention a reality for every child.

“The Convention stands at a crossroads between its illustrious past and its future potential. It is up to us to recommit, take decisive steps and hold ourselves accountable”, said Fore. “We should take our lead from young people who are speaking up and speaking out for their rights as never before, we must act now – boldly and creatively".

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