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CRC -- A Lot is Done but Not Enough--says Marta Santos Pais

Ms. Marta Santos Pais addresses the group of Indian parliamentarians on their role to advocate child rights.
© UNICEF/India/Rakesh Saini
Ms. Marta Santos Pais addresses the group of Indian parliamentarians on their role to advocate child rights.

By Augustine Veliath

New Delhi:  The Convention on  the Rights of  the Child (CRC) has prompted parliaments across the globe to make new laws in the best interest of  the child. “But the role of parliamentarians is not limited to law making” Ms Marta Santos Pais, Director of the UNICEF Innocenti Research told the members of the Indian Parliament here on August 23.

Quoting a study conducted by the Innocenti Research Centre, she said three major lessons are important. (1) Law reform is long term and never ending process, (2) Comprehensive laws and sectoral legislation are complementary (3) Parliamentary commissions and forums on children can expedite law reform.

In a lecture organized by the Bureau of  Parliamentary Studies and Training in New Delhi,  Ms Pais, who is on a week long visit to India, said that parliamentarians have become spokespersons for the rights of children and they have promoted greater awareness of children throughout their societies.

Parliaments play leading role in the process of ratification and in the approval of national budgets, she continued. They often participate in the development of national plans on the rights of the child. “ A lot is being done on CRC, but not enough” she said.

Complimenting the very active Indian Parliamentary Forum on Children Ms Pais said such forums and committees bring together parliamentarians from different political parties together. These committees then act as a catalyst for broad processes that enrich the content of the legislation. More importantly they engage the civil society and sustain and build momentum in the adoption of new CRC based legislation.

Ms Pais took the Indian parliamentarians through many initiatives in different parts of the world such as

  • Canada ( a comprehensive study with far reaching recommendations),
  • Lebanon (A high level and highly effective committee on the Rights of Children),
  • Italy (Parliamentary Commission  leading to National Plan of Action and Ombuds for children),
  • France (Parliamentary Investigative Commission on the Children),
  • Germany (Children’s Commission of the Bundestag ,
  • Brazil and Sweden (Parliamentary Committee on children with representation from all other Commissions and
  • Sri Lanka (Parliamentary Lobby for Child Rights).

She invited the Indian parliamentarians to join hands with other parliaments and academic institutions to establish a virtual resource centre and share national laws, plans of action, parliamentary debates and monitoring mechanisms. She said  the Innocenti Research Centre will happily facilitate such a global exchange.

The Lok Sabha (House of Peoples) Secretary General Mr. P.D.T. Acharya welcomed Ms Pais and the Additional Secretary of the Parliamentary Secretariat proposed vote of thanks. The lecture was followed by a lively discussion.

Ms Pais also visited the recently launched “Children’s Corner” in the Parliament premises. She was interviewed by the 24 hour Lok Sabha Channel on the One to One programme which will be nationally telecast later.





5 Steps to Making the Convention Real

1. Raise awareness to make the Convention known and respected
2. Train all relevant professionals
3. Develop child sensitive institutions
4. Allocate enough funds
5. Monitor progress and coordinate

For every child
Health, Education, Equality, Protection