UNICEF’s State of The World’s Children commemorates 20 years of the Convention on the rights of the ChildDhaka, 6 December 2009. A special edition issue of UNICEF's global flagship report The State of the World's Children, tracking the impact of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the challenges that remain, was launched today in Dhaka CIRDAP Auditorium. This edition celebrates the 20 years of the Convention since its adoption in 1989.
The Secretary of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Rokeya Sultana, together with UNICEF representative, Carel de Rooy, and the Deputy Speaker of the Child Parliament, Zahida Sultana Mukti, unveiled the publication and inaugurated an exhibition of children’s drawings and poems on children’s rights.
UNICEF’s report shows how the Convention on the Rights of the Child has transformed the way children are viewed and treated throughout the world. Not only it has changed the attitudes and knowledge of people but it has also shaped legislations, policies and practices by institutions.
The Convention has been ratified by 193 countries who thus decided to be bound by the articles of an international treaty. It articulates a set of universal children’s rights, such as the right to an identity, a name and a nationality, the right to an education, and rights to the highest possible standards of health and protection from abuse and exploitation.
‘Converting the Convention into reality remains an enormous task that requires the will and persistence of all, Government, civil society, private sector, religious organizations, media, parents and children themselves, said UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh, Carel de Rooy. “The 20th Anniversary of the Convention is a time to celebrate, but also a time to reflect on what still needs to be done to make Bangladesh a country fit for children.”
Bangladesh was one of the first countries to sign and ratify the Convention in 1990. Last June, Bangladesh submitted its third and fourth periodic report on the implementation of the Convention to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Based on the report, the Committee issued one hundred specific recommendations to ensure the full realization of the rights of the child in the country. As a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Bangladesh has an obligation to take measures to address these recommendations.
“Despite some important steps taken by Bangladesh such as enacting the Labour Law in 2006 which prohibits hazardous labour for children, Bangladesh still needs to harmonize its national legislation with the principles and provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child’, said Carel de Rooy. ‘Other areas require special attention such as child marriage, child malnutrition, quality of education, fast and unplanned urbanization that makes many families socially vulnerable. The Government needs to put children at the heart of the country’s social and economic development.’
Other observations by the CRC committee include the adoption of the definition of the child as any person below 18 years by all national laws, as many inconsistency remain in the current legislation; the allocation of adequate resources for children in accordance with the requirements of the National Strategy of Accelerated Poverty Reduction; the inclusion of pre-school education as part of compulsory primary education to improve learning achievements; allowing children residing in refugee camps to have access to better health and nutrition services; adopting a national policy to prevent and promote alternative measures to detention for children and adolescents under 18.
Since Bangladesh ratified the Convention, clear progress has been made towards the fulfillment of the rights of the children in the country on some areas. For example, Bangladesh has more than halved the child mortality rate since 1990; today, almost all children (97%) in Bangladesh receive Vitamin A supplementation; 80% of the population has access to safe water. And primary school net enrolment rate is above 90%.
At the same time, other data show major issues related to children’s rights that have not yet been addressed: only 36% of the population has access to improved sanitation; two in five children are underweight; 1.3 million children are involved in hazardous work; only 50.7% of the children who enroll in school complete all five years of primary cycle; 64% of women between 20 and 24 years old were married before the age of 18.
More on the CRC: http://www.unicef.org/rightsite/
Attention editors and broadcasters: Multi media packages including photos and b-roll will be available starting at www.thenewsmarket.com/unicef
More on UNICEF in Bangladesh at: www.unicef.org.bd
For further information, copy of the report, interviews with experts, please contact:
Minhaz Anwar, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Bangladesh