An Azerbaijan "Fit for Children"
UNICEF, the government of Azerbaijan and civil society have come together in an unprecedented partnership to discuss child issues in Azerbaijan, particularly the country’s international commitments to children.
BAKU, Azerbaijan, 10 July 2007 - UNICEF Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan in cooperation with the European Union and the Council of Europe jointly organized a national conference to focus on Azerbaijan’s commitments as part of the UN General Assembly Resolution “World Fit for Children” (WFFC) and the achievements in the area of protection of child rights in the capital Baku.
Addressing the conference at the Gulustan Palace of the Azerbaijani capital, UNICEF Representative in Azerbaijan, Hanaa Singer, commended the progress of the country towards the implementation of the WFFC action plan, which was approved at the UN Special Session for Children in 2002.
“Azerbaijan has made some significant achievements in the implementation of the first 5 years of the WFFC plan of action which it can be proud of and has laid a good foundation for further progress,” Ms. Singer told the conference.
The Special Representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe in Azerbaijan, Denis Bribosia, spoke of the significance of the conference for the country in the wider context of child rights in Europe.
“Together we must seize the opportunity of this Conference to mobilise available forces to take Azerbaijan one step further along in the protection of children rights alongside what is taking place all over Europe,” Mr. Bribosia said.
The UNICEF Represnetative urged the participants to invest in children to become rich, not just become rich to invest in children, taking advantage of the oil boom and rapid economic growth in Azerbaijan.
The national conference came amid the alarming statistics of abuse and exploitation of children all over the globe and the increasing voices for protecting children from violence.
Also addressing the conference, Deputy Prime Minister Elchin Afandiyev, the Vice-Speaker of the Azerbaijani parliament; Bahar Muradova, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mahmud Mammadguliyev, Deputy Interior Minister; Oruj Zalov, Minister of Education; Misir Mardanov, Minister of Health; Ogtay Shiraliyev, the chairperson of the State Committee on Family, Woman and Child Problems; Hijran Huseynova, and other government officials gave updates on the government’s efforts to improve the situation of children in the oil-rich Caucasus republic.
The outgoing chairman of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Professor Jacob Doek; the Director of UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Marta Santos Pais; Dr. Paola Viero from the Italian government, the EU special envoy to Azerbaijan, Alan Waddams; the special representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe in Azerbaijan, Denis Bribosia, and other international experts spoke about ways of making Azerbaijan fully fit for its children.
“There is an important momentum in favour of the rights of children in Europe today. Azerbaijan being on its way to integrate into the European family should make use of the existing legal instruments as well as accumulated expertise and experience, in designing its own policies, in particular those which have an impact on children’s rights,” said the UNICEF Representative.
'A World Fit for Children' Resolution is an outcome document approved at the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Children held in New York from 7 to 10 May 2002. The resolution was officially adopted by some 180 nations, including Azerbaijan. It set up a new agenda for - and with - the world's children, including 21 specific goals and targets for the upcoming decade. More than two years of consensus-building resulted in a strong future agenda focused on four key priorities: promoting healthy lives; providing quality education for all; protecting children against abuse, exploitation and violence; and combating HIV/AIDS.
Despite the progress made, the participants, including members of local NGOs, pinpointed some areas where improvements are required and called for more action to treat children not as mini-people with mini-rights, but as mature individuals entitled to enjoy all the rights together with adults.