UNICEF, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF ARMENIA HOLD FIRST EVER PARLIAMENTARY HEARINGS ON CHILD PROTECTION
YEREVAN, 9 December 2008 – Close to 100 representatives of the Armenian parliament, government, international and local non-governmental organisations gathered today for the first ever parliamentary hearings on the theme of protection of child rights in Armenia.“These first ever parliamentary hearings on the protection of child rights in Armenia are particularly timely as they are being held on the eve of the International Human Rights Day and preceed Armenia’s submission of a periodic report on the situation of child rights to the Commission on the Rights of the Child which is due in 2009,” UNICEF Representative in Armenia, Laylee Moshiri-Gilani emphasized in her opening remarks.
Armenia has made steady progress in improving the situation of children and women. In particular, the child mortality rate has dropped dramatically since 1990 and primary school enrollment rates have remained high. Over the last several years, new national laws have been enacted and existing laws strengthened to better protect children.
However, these positive developments cannot be sustained over the long term unless commitments to children are matched with state budgetary resources, and workable mechanisms for enactment and monitoring of these measures are in place.
“Without adequate financial investments and sustaining political will at all levels, it is impossible to effectively address the existing problems, such as child poverty, children dropping out of school, children in institutions, low enrollment of children in pre-schools and birth registration,“ UNICEF Representative stressed, adding that “these hearings present a unique opportunity to bring together all stakeholders in the area of child rights protection and highlight existing systemic gaps.”
Respect for human rights starts with the attitude that we hold towards children and the protection of their rights, said Chairman of the National Assembly of Armenia Hovik Abrahamian in his welcome remarks. “It is a well known fact that Armenia’s security also largely depends on children’s well-being and the implementation of international agreements on child rights. Effective protection of child rights is the best and long-term investment that the society and the state can make in its future.”
During the hearings UNICEF Representative Ms. Moshiri-Gilani also presented an Armenian version of the handbook for parliamentarians “Eliminating Violence Against Children” developed by UNICEF jointly with the Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU). She spoke about the role of parliamentarians in prevention and response to cases of violence against children, stressing in particular that parliaments can challenge attitudes and beliefs that treat violence against children as inevitable or harmless.
“Violence against children can happen everywhere and Armenia is not an exclusion. But we in UNICEF believe that parliaments and parliamentarians can play a critical role in changing the situation. We hope that this handbook will enable members of the National Assembly of Armenia to create a world in which every child can live in safety and dignity, ” UNICEF Representative noted.
At the end of the session the participants came up with a recommendation of holding hearings on the theme of child rights protection on a periodic basis.
For more information, please contact:
Emil Sahakyan, UNICEF Communication Officer
Tel.: (374 10) 52 35 46, ext.113