Armenia has made considerable progress in improving the lives of children through adoption and amendment of appropriate legislation and the implementation of reforms in the health, education and child welfare.
Armenia acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1992 and adopted a Law on Children in 1996 which reinforced the provisions outlined in CRC. Over the last two years, Armenia has ratified other important international documents, including the two CRC Optional Protocols on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and on Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (2005), the ILO 182nd Convention relating to Child Labour (2005), the Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption (2006), as well as introduced amendments to key domestic laws, including the Family Code, Labor Code and Criminal Code, designed to better protect children from exploitation, abuse and trafficking.
Moreover, in 2003 the Government of Armenia developed and endorsed a National Plan of Action for the Protection of Children’s Rights (NPA) for 2004-2015 as a follow up to the pledge made at the UN General Assembly’s Special Session on Children in 2002. The NPA was a milestone in the development in Armenia of an integrated long-term governmental program to address the rights and meet the needs of children in this country. The plan, closely linked to Armenia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy paper, lays a solid foundation for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that are consistent to meeting the rights of children.
However, despite these developments and the presence of political will, the implementation of laws still remains a problem as few working mechanisms have been established and resources, both human and financial, have been insufficient to translate provisions of laws into results for children.
Although public expenditure on health, education and social sectors have been steadily increasing over the last 5 years, they still were not sufficient to ensure all rights for all children. Indeed, public expenditure on general education represented only 2.75% per cent of GDP in 2006, while expenditure on health fared even worse at 1.64% of GDP (Source: Armenia Mid-Term Expenditure Framework 2007-2009).
Poverty continues to be the major cause of exclusion of children, particularly those living in rural areas, from social services. Despite noticeable progress in reducing poverty rate in Armenia, 41.9 per cent of children under 5 are considered to be poor and 8 per cent are extremely poor.
UNICEF is actively supporting the Government of Armenia in tackling challenges posed by poverty and in developing policies and strategies that would bring about results for children and enable the country to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Our contribution to the implementation of reform initiatives in health, education and child welfare areas as well as concerted efforts of the Government of Armenia to improve the situation in those sectors yielded tangible results.