On 20th November 1989, the world made a set of promises to all children when it adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. All of the countries in the world have now signed up to it except for Somalia and the United States of America. A convention is an agreement between countries to obey the same law.
The Convention states that every child has the same rights:
* the right to a childhood (which includes protection from harm)
* the right to be educated (which includes all girls and boys completing primary school)
* the right to be healthy (which includes having clean water, nutritious food and medical care)
* the right to be treated fairly (which includes changing laws and practices that are unfair on children)
* the right to be heard (which includes considering children's views)
More at UNICEF on youtube
EU marks 20 years of Child Rights Protection and Looks Ahead
Today the world celebrates the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) – the most universally ratified human rights treaty. The Convention is the first international legally binding instrument establishing minimum standards for the protection and safeguarding of a full range of civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights of all children around the world. The internal policies of the EU and its external relations are based on the full respect and promotion of the Convention's principles. This anniversary is an opportunity to recognise the progress achieved in the promotion and protection of children’s rights, but also to reflect on remaining challenges to enable children all over the world to fully enjoy their rights. To highlight the joint commitment to the principles of the UNCRC, the European Commission, UNICEF and UNRIC will jointly mark the 20 anniversary of the adoption of the Convention.
On this occasion, Vice President Jacques Barrot, Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security of the European Commission, said: "Children's rights are close to my heart. We must do everything we can to protect children and to allow them to develop their full potential so that they become a force to reckon with in the future."
Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Karel De Gucht said: “ The UNCRC is a major legal and ethical milestone in the international effort to protect children everywhere in the world and with no exception. Children depend on us to fight for them, giving voice to the voiceless. The European Union has always tried to deliver on the rights and needs of children to ensure that the provisions of the Convention are turned into facts benefitting children. Despite the good work done in the past years, there is no room for complacency. The violations of children's rights in the EU and worldwide are still far too many.”
The European Commission has made it its priority to uphold the high standards in children's rights protection set by the UNCRC, which has been ratified by all 27 EU Member States.
Visible results have been achieved inside the EU and worldwide. Child alert systems, i.e. mechanisms triggered by police or judicial authorities in cases of suspected abduction of a child are being put in place or already exist in EU Member States. The capacity for these systems to interact on trans-border cases is being developed. The hotline number "116", a social service dedicated to providing assistance and support in cases of missing and exploited children is gradually becoming a reality across the EU. Further efforts have to be made to speed up progress made at national level towards achieving the full impact of these initiatives.
Significant progress has been made in the areas of cyber security and combating child pornography especially through the 'Safer internet programme'.
In order to promote and improve children's health and well-being, the Commission is implementing several actions aimed at tackling major health determinants, mental health, and injuries.
Globally, the EU actively implements the child rights policy through various tools. In our political dialogues with third countries, we work towards universal ratification and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Where appropriate, concrete support is offered to partner countries including for the adoption or revision of relevant national laws prohibiting violence against children. Furthermore, the EU seeks to deliver on its commitments on the UNCRC by providing technical and financial support to third countries, like for example for the implementation of national policies on education. During the past 20 years, EU donors have provided almost € 350 billion for that purpose. While the majority of EU-funded projects on children is implemented via geographic allocations to third countries and regions a number of activities are financed through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and the thematic programme "Investing in people".
The enlargement process remains a powerful tool for promoting children’s rights. One of the criteria for membership of the EU is stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and the protection of minorities. Throughout the accession process, the Commission promotes the reform of child protection and closely monitors progress on children’s rights in all candidate and potential candidate countries.
Overall, any of the instruments – political dialogue, development assistance, domestic policies, and trade incentives – are likely to be more effective if applied jointly in a mutually supportive manner and as part of a broader policy framework that focuses on development and poverty eradication. Thus, an effective and renewed policy response to combat child labor should be comprehensive and attack its roots, including action on poverty eradication and on education starting with the youngest. This reflects priorities set out in the Millennium Development Goals.
Last but not least, the European Forum on the rights of the child aims to bring together the relevant actors: Member States’ representatives, Ombudspersons for children, representatives of the EU Institutions, the Council of Europe, UNICEF and NGOs. The Forum will continue to assist the Commission in making progress in favour of children. In addition, this year’s EU-NGO Human Rights Forum, the largest consultation platform for EU cooperation with civil society, was devoted to discussing children’s rights.
In the next years, the action of the European Commission in this area will focus on priority fields: violence against children, children in armed conflicts, poverty and children in particularly vulnerable situations (e.g unaccompanied minors, Roma), the invisible children (including child labour and child trafficking). Efforts will also be strengthened to ensure that children themselves are given the opportunity to voice their opinions. In addition, a thorough evaluation of the impact of EU actions in the field of children's rights will be conducted in 2010.
in Europa press rapid