20th Anniversary of CRC: Progress Made
Armenia acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992. The accession and subsequent ratification of the Convention set the start of the process of reforming legislative framework in the newly independent country as well as paved the way for the child care reform.
In 1995 with support from UNICEF the Ministry of Education of Armenia introduced Life-skills based education in the country. Life skills has now been integrated into the school curriculum and is part of core subjects taught at schools throughout Armenia.
In 1996 Armenia adopted the Law on Children that was developed based on the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. A year later, in 1997 Armenia submitted its first periodic report on the situation of children to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
In 1997 UNICEF and the Government of Armenia started the programme of salt iodization in Armenia to tackle the problem of iodine deficiency and diseases caused by it particularly in children and women. In 2006 a group of international organisations acknowledged elimination of iodine deficiency in Armenia through universal salt iodization.
In 1999 Armenia adopted a Law on Education that guaranteed all children the right to receive free basic education. The same year the country adopted the Law on Refugees that provided for the rights of refugees, including the rights of refugee children.
In 2000 Armenia adopted the Law on Social Protection of children deprived of parental care. There are 8 state and 4 private orphanages in Armenia catering for the needs of over 1,000 children. The majority of children in orphanages have at least one parent.
In 2000 the Ministry of Health of Armenia supported by UNICEF successfully introduced Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. The same year the first Baby-Friendly Hospital nomination ceremony took place. Today there are 22 baby-friendly hospitals in Armenia.
UNICEF-supported immunization resulted in eradication of polio in Armenia. In 2002 the country was certified by international institutions as a zone free from polio.
In 2003 the Government of Armenia adopted the National Plan of Action for the Protection of Children’s Rights and the State Strategy for the Reform of Child Care Institutions System. The same year a new Criminal Code was adopted with inclusion of provisions on child trafficking and abuse.
In 2004 Armenia ratified the revised European Social Charter. The same year a new Family Code was adopted, providing for rights of children in difficult circumstances and setting a legal base for the introduction of foster care. The first community-based day care centre for children with special needs and children from vulnerable families was established in the city of Gyumri with UNICEF’s support. There are 9 day care centres in the country providing social services to over 1,300 children.
Before accession to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and adoption of a domestic legislation specifically dealing with children’s rights infant mortality rate in Armenia totalled 41 per 1,000 livebirths (1991-1995). In 2005 this indicator went down to 26 per 1,000 livebirths.
Youth Friendly Health Services were for the first time established in Armenia in 2005 based on a concept document developed by the Ministry of Health with support from UNICEF. The same year WHO training modules were adapted to allow health care providers to engage in trainings on youth friendly health services.
In 2005 for the first time UNICEF awarded Armenian media for the responsible coverage of child-related issues based on an independent monitoring conducted by a professional PR agency. The following year a Network of Child Friendly Journalists was established to support UNICEF work on behalf of children.
In 2006 Armenia ratified two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as two ILO Conventions pertaining to child labour. The same year implementation of a foster care programme started in Lori region. As of today there are 17 foster families in Armenia providing foster care to 19 children.
In 2006 UNICEF supported the development and endorsement of a comprehensive national youth policy strategy that for the first time addressed health issues of adolescents and young people. In subsequent years the strategy was used as a basis to develop adolescent and youth-related policies.
In 2007 Armenia ratified the Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption and signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The same year 17 boarding schools were restructured into regular schools and boarding institutions with night care. As a result, 4 000 children went back to their families.
In 2008 UNICEF and the National Assembly hold first ever public hearings on child rights. In 2009 UNICEF and the National Assembly seal a Memorandum of Understanding that lays basis for continuous cooperation with the parliament on child rights issues.
Breastfeeding rates in Soviet Armenia and during the first years of independence were extremely low. In early 90’s exclusive breastfeeding rate for up to 4 months was only 0.7 per cent. UNICEF-supported initiatives such as parent support groups, baby-friendly hospitals as well as public awareness campaigns resulted in increase of the exclusive breastfeeding rate for up to 4 months to 37% (33% for up to 6 months).
Following independence in 1991, the number of children attending pre-schools in Armenia has declined dramatically. Only 20% of children of pre-school age were attending kindergartens and other types of pre-schools as of 2003. However, with UNICEF’s support the tendency has been reverted in recent years due to adoption of a relevant legislation and introduction of low-cost alternative pre-school services at community level.
There are over 8,000 children with special needs officially registered with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection. The first inclusive school appeared in Armenia in 2001. Today there are over 30 inclusive schools in Armenia with more than 400 children with special needs studying there. It is envisaged that by 2010 there will be 200 inclusive schools in Armenia.