Kazakhstan hosts Child Protection Forum, marks 60th anniversary of UNICEF
ASTANA, 17 December, 2006 – An historical first Child Protection Forum of Central Asian Countries was held in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana on 6-7 December. “The social and legal support systems for families and children in Central Asia” forum welcomed delegates from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as representatives of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Initiated by the Committee on Childs Rights Protection of the Kazakh Ministry of Education and Science and UNICEF, the forum aimed to urge countries to look into the shortcomings and gaps in the fulfillment of the Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as protection of children’s rights as part of the Millennium Development Goals and the World Fit for Children agendas.
“Indeed, this forum is not only most timely, but also an important turning point for the countries of this region to collectively review and discuss the challenges faced and opportunities that can be seized upon for realization of children’s rights and improvement of their development and protection,” said Deputy Regional Director of UNICEF Regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, Shahnaz Kianian-Firouzgar. “We in UNICEF are confident that all your countries, as signatories to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, have a firm commitment to ensuring that the rights set out in the Convention are not mere aspirations but rights to which all children are entitled,” she added.
A message of welcome to the forum participants, from Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev was read out at the first plenary session of the Forum, chaired by Kazakh Minister of Education and Science Byrganym Aytimova and UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan, Alexandre Zouev.
The President underlined in the message that “a constructive dialogue between our countries will make it possible both to map out plans and take strategic decisions on child protection issues in Central Asia. I am confident that the Child Protection Forum of Central Asian countries will turn into a real mechanism for further cooperation between our countries on dealing with the issues of protecting children’s rights and interests and of their full and harmonic development.”
The spiritual leader of Kazakhstan’s Muslims, Mufti Absattar Hadji Derbissali told the Forum: “For many centuries Islam, which is a common religion in our countries, has developed certain norms to cater for children. Also, our countries’ common cultures, values and principles demand that we should cherish our children and defend their rights and interests.”
Aimed at facilitating a dialogue between the countries of the region on the protection of children’s rights and to give an impetus to reforms in national systems of social protection, the historic event brought together government delegations, representatives of international and non-governmental organizations to exchange their ideas and share their experience.
Key areas of the forum’s work included the discussion of social policy and its strengthened focus on child protection, inclusion policies for children who need special care; approaches and strategies for building an integrated child protection system, as well as capacity and funding gaps and priorities for further action.
During the sessions, participants presented country situation analyses, shared their experiences of successfully-implemented national programmes and identified priority focus areas for national action and inter-country cooperation. As a result of the Forum, the participants adopted a resolution establishing working mechanisms for the Child Protection Forum to further co-operate and formalize obligations of the member-states in fulfilling child protection tasks.
On 6 December, UNICEF Kazakhstan Office organized a concert and reception to mark the 60th anniversary of UNICEF, to which forum participants and diplomatic corps based in Astana were invited. A dozen children’s ensembles, choirs and singers demonstrated their talents. The concert concluded with the delivery of a message from the Zhuldyz (Star) children’s public organization to the forum participants urging the public to set up an international children’s diplomatic corps.
Both the concert and following 60th anniversary reception attracted close attention of senior officials in Kazakhstan, including four ministers. This important event raised advocacy and drew the Kazakh government’s attention to UNICEF's activities to protect children’s rights and care about their well-being.
On behalf of the Kazakh Ministry of Education and Science, Minister Byrganym Aytimova presented UNICEF Kazakhstan Country Office with a woven carpet containing a picture of Astana. “I wish a happy birthday to UNICEF. May your noble cause bring prosperity and health to children around the world. Your organization is unique in uniting and bringing together all the efforts and resources of adults for the sake of children,” said Aytimova, presenting the carpet to UNICEF Representative Alexandre Zouev.
For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For additional information, please contact:
Sultan Khudaibergenov, Communication Officer, UNICEF Kazakhstan
UNICEF Statement at the First Child Protection Forum Central Asia Republics