|Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children Marta Santos Pais (right) addresses the Annual Session of the UNICEF Executive Board. Beside her (from left) are Executive Director Anthony Lake, President of the 2010 UNICEF Executive Board (and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN) Abulkalam Abdul Momen, Executive Board Secretary Nicolas Pron and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Deputy Director Maggie Nicholson.|
By Vivian Siu
NEW YORK, USA, 4 June 2010 – On day three of the UNICEF Executive Board’s 2010 Annual Session, discussions focused on moving towards universal ratification of the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and on the vital role played by UNICEF’s National Committees.
In May 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted two Optional Protocols supplementing the wide-ranging protections of the Convention. The protocols offer additional protection for children who are vulnerable to armed conflict or to trafficking, exploitation, prostitution and pornography.
“The Optional Protocols are a promise we made to all the world’s children, especially to the most vulnerable,” UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake told the Executive Board at yesterday’s meeting. “It is time that all of us make clear that the Optional Protocols are morally mandatory.”
Global campaign for ratification
Last month, UNICEF, together with the United Nations and child-rights experts, marked the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Optional Protocols and launched a global campaign aiming for their worldwide ratification by 2012. To date, two-thirds of the world’s nations have ratified the protocols, but UN leaders and advocates are seeking a moral consensus for universal ratification.
|UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake (centre) speaks at the third day of the 2010 UNICEF Executive Board's Annual Session, held at UN headquarters in New York.|
The need for this consensus is clear: Some 250,000 young people remain associated with armed groups or armed forces around the globe, and studies have placed the number of children trafficked across international borders annually at 1.2 million. Many of those trafficked both within and across borders are forced into prostitution.
In her address to the Executive Board, Marta Santos Pais, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, noted that universal ratification and effective implementation of the Optional Protocols would constitute an invaluable contribution to child rights.
“A world in which girls and boys can enjoy childhood, a time of play and learning, where they are protected and respected, where their rights are promoted, where their safety and well-being are paramount – I’m truly convinced that by universal ratification we will be getting closer to this ideal,” said Ms. Pais.
Support from National Committees
The ideal of a world fit for children was also at the centre of today’s Executive Board discussion about UNICEF’s National Committees, which mobilize resources and advocate in support of UNICEF’s work in 36 industrialized countries.
|Japan Committee for UNICEF Executive Director Ken Hayami, one of the National Committee representatives participating in the Annual Session of the 2010 UNICEF Executive Board.|
For the first time this year, the National Committees were the subject of a special agenda item at the Executive Board’s Annual Session. The Chairperson of the Standing Group of National Committees for UNICEF and the Executive Directors from the National Committees of Japan, Iceland, Spain and Switzerland updated the Executive Board on their respective initiatives and campaigns.
Each year, the National Committees raise a total of approximately $1 billion to fund UNICEF’s programmes for children. Yet fundraising is only one aspect of the support they provide. The committees are key partners, as well, in working with governments, the private sector, celebrities and the media, and raising the general public’s awareness of children’s rights and needs in the developing world.
Executive Director Anthony Lake expressed deep gratitude to the National Committees for their tireless dedication and acknowledged their critical role in UNICEF’s efforts to save, improve and protect the lives of all children.
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