UNICEF Partnership with the Latin American Episcopal Conference
UNICEF and the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM), a conference of Roman Catholic Bishops in Latin America, began partnering together in the early 1980s to address the needs of the most vulnerable children and families. Some of the highlights of the partnership include:
- In 1983, UNICEF launched the Health Revolution, a programme received by the Holy See with a very optimistic and positive response, consequently endorsing its memorable commitment in favor of health and the wellbeing of children. The Catholic Church supported this initiative with its network roster around the globe and more so in the developing countries. The first experience of co-operative work between CELAM and UNICEF started when the National Secretariat of the Social Pastoral in Colombia produced the “Road to Health for Children” manual, and trained promoters in 20 jurisdictions. In 1985, both entities participated in the National Survival Plan, which was developed by the Colombian government.
- In 1986 in Londrina and Brasilia, a convention of 15 Latin American Bishops was held for the purpose of evaluating progress on the collective work between UNICEF and the Brazilian Episcopal Conference. The Latin American Secretariat of CARITAS, SELAC, joined this effort by promoting co-operation programmes at the national and diocese levels, motivating their active participation throughout the country.
- In 1987 the Children's Pastoral was launched to continue with this successful endeavour. Educational materials were produced, training workshops were implemented and regional and sub-regional conclaves were held throughout Latin America. As part of a stronger commitment, in 1991 a co-operation agreement was signed between UNICEF and CELAM, oriented to address child survival activity in support of integrated early childhood development programmes, as well as child protection, and focusing on the mother and family in general.
- In 1993, a third co-operation phase was launched, when the formal Co-operation Agreement between CELAM and UNICEF was introduced. Following the World Education Summit in 1990 (in Jomtien, Thailand), education programmes became a priority and implementation took place by integrating communities as partners, where protection and legal promotion of women, children and family rights were of greatest importance. Based on these premises UNICEF and CELAM launched the “Children's Social Pastoral and Education for Peace, Democracy and Development of the Human Being and Society” programme. This became the umbrella for the “Right to a Name and Nationality” programme and the movement for children's rights campaigns. Several programmes were created, such as a high-risk HIV/AIDS preventive education Pastoral, and a drug-addiction preventive project, all within the frame of caring for the poorest, promoting better living conditions for the integral development of children and adolescents throughout the region.
- Partnerships with the Children’s Pastoral have expanded outside Latin America to countries such as Angola and Timor-Leste.
Source: Excerpted from Consejo Episcopal Latino Americano and United Nations Children’s Fund, n.d