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Nov 17, 2014

UNICEF commemorates 25th Anniversary of Convention

The Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted on November twentieth by the United Nations. The CRC, as it is known, establishes measures to ensure the protection, survival, and development of all children, without discrimination. It also commits countries that are signatories to protect children from economic and sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse and advances the rights of children to education, health care, and a decent standard of living.  Countries that have signed on are this week celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the treaty. In Belize today UNICEF held a ceremony at the Radisson.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Today is being commemorated across the world as the twenty-fifth year of the signing of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Despite the milestone achievement, many of the responsibilities which fall under that formal agreement have been overlooked.  UNICEF’s country representative Ivan Yerovi outlines several of those shortfalls.

 

Ivan Yerovi, Country Representative, UNICEF

Ivan Yerovi

“Too many of the commitments made to children have yet to be fulfilled.  These are just some of the ways children’s rights continue to be violated.  Some six point six million children under five years of age died in 2012, mostly from preventable causes.  A hundred and sixty-eight million children age five to seventeen were engaged in child labor in 2012, compromising the right to be protected from economic exploitation and interfering with the right to learn and play.  Eleven percent of girls are married before they turn fifteen, jeopardizing their rights to health, education and protection.  And for this millennium of children the world has failed them.  Investing in children is critical to eradicating poverty, boosting shared prosperity and creating more equitable future.”

 

Integral in the effort to meet the requirements of children under the CRC framework is the National Committee for Families and Children.  Over the years, NCFC has established critical partnerships with other organizations, including the Department of Human Development, but their collective achievements aren’t felt across the country.

 

Pearl Stuart, Chairman, NCFC

Pearl Stuart

“Net enrollment rates at primary schools have risen greatly over the years but it is still below ninety-six percent which means that here in Belize about six thousand children who should be in primary school aren’t.  Not every child has access to information and more so that information is not generally shared in a child-friendly manner.  In terms of organizational change in the past twenty-five years, the way organizations and agencies such as UNICEF, NCFC, the Supreme Court, Human Development, education, key NGOs etcetera, work has changed.  We are spending more time working together and planning together in a coordinated fashion but what remains the same is that not every child feels the impact of this work.”

 

Special Envoy for Women and Children Kim Simplis Barrow, keynote speaker at today’s gathering, acknowledges that while Belize can celebrate its accomplishments since signing on to the instrument in 1990, there needs to be an evaluation of the progress made thus far to determine where additional focus needs to be placed on the CRC.

 

Kim Barrow, Special Envoy for Women and Children

Kim Barrow

“This international instrument has moved us to a common understanding that children are not objects but subjects of rights.  Although we can argue that implementation has been uneven it is still a major accomplishment.  Consider that all and every state in the world has ratified this convention and now working towards compliance.  This is quite a feat especially if you consider that up to the early twentieth century in many developed Western countries, animal cruelty laws had to be employed to protect children from child abuse.  Anniversaries natural evoke a desire to do some stock taking, so the question posed by the event, is the world a better place for children is a fitting one to ask ourselves as we commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the CRC.  In answering this question we will no doubt look at the articles of the CRC and look at the related statistics and data to measure progress and lack thereof. And as you are all keenly aware, in Belize we have reasons to both celebrate and re-evaluate.”

 

Isani Cayetano Reporting for News Five.

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