Support to implementation of International Conventions
UNICEF works at a fundamental legal level to support Government, the Ombudsman and civil society to fulfil their roles specified in the major international conventions that have been ratified in Azerbaijan. For UNICEF the most important is, of course, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but in recent years UNICEF has also been leading the UN support to Azerbaijan in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. A common thread running through our programming is also support to implementation of the Convention to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination Against Women.
UNICEF advises in the establishment of effective national mechanisms of implementation (legal framework and government structures including inter-ministerial groups), and reporting which in turn involves clear procedures and methodology for collecting necessary data and information. All these Conventions have a requirement to report to the "treaty body", either the State Party (government) report or NGO (alternative report) - there may also be a parallel report from the Office of the Ombudsman. UNICEF supports all three of these reporting lines.
The cooperation with the Government centres around the State Committee for Family, Women and Children's Affairs, where UNICEF's role is mainly strengthening evidence based advocacy on issues in child rights such as rights of children with disabilities, child marriages, street children, birth registration and violence against children. The State Committee is also the lead agency for reporting to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and so UNICEF continues to strengthen their capacity to do so, and to have a continuous monitoring of child rights issues in the aggregate. The State Committee was created in response to a previous recommendation of the Committee on the Rights of the Child to establish an inter-ministerial body to coordinate implementation and reporting on the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Another recommendation from the Committee on the Rights of the Child was to establish a specialised independent child rights monitoring mechanism with adequate resources and capacity to address systematic and individual violation of children’s rights.This is viewed as the best sustainable tool to protect and promote child rights. Therefore, UNICEF is further strengthening the Ombudsman Office’s capacities by assisting the Human Rights Ombudsman Office, including its Central and Regional Child Rights Focal Points, to have a comprehensive child rights knowledge including on violence against children, juvenile offenders and their legal rights as well as knowledge on how to enforce child rights protection mechanisms under their mandate.
As mentioned elsewhere, a cross-cutting issue for UNICEF in Azerbaijan is helping reduce the problems faced by children with disabilities. Azerbaijan was one of the first countries in the Region that ratified UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention lays a solid basis for further strengthening and improvement of domestic legislation and development of an effective implementation mechanism. The Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population was assigned as governmental focal point agency and Ombudsman’s Office as independent monitoring mechanism, and the MoLSPP has established a technical Task Force Group. The President of Azerbaijan has signed a special order on the establishment of high level working group under the leadership of the MoLSPP where decision makers from all state bodies responsible for social and infrastructure sectors were assigned to develop the initial state party report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities submitted in January 2011. UNICEF elps to identify role of each single governmental institutions in the process through development of an Action Plan for the Group. UNICEF is cooperating with other UN agencies, government, international and local organizations in conducting a comprehensive study on situation of persons with disabilities in Azerbaijan. Together with the government and local NGO we are launching a nationwide public awareness campaign as well as holding an International Conference on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.