|© UNICEF Afghanistan/ Carwardine/2004|
|At the presentation ceremony, a young Afghan girl raises her concerns about children in her country.|
By Edward Carwardine
KABUL, 20 November 2004 – At a ceremony here today, children presented a Manifesto outlining their hopes, aspirations and demands, to Afghanistan’s Vice President Hidayat Amin Arsala.
The Children’s Manifesto is the result of a series of consultations and workshops with children from across Afghanistan, in a process that began in 2003. The Manifesto serves as a tangible reminder of the responsibilities of both adults and children in upholding children’s rights.
This day, 20 November, was chosen for the presentation because it marks the 15th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Also present at the event were UNICEF Representative to Afghanistan Bernt Aasen and heads of leading children’s NGOs.
The Manifesto is backed by a new Framework for Action, drawn up by leading child rights organizations working in Afghanistan, that sets out key actions and targets requested of the new President, his Government and its partners in the UN, NGO, donor and civil society communities. The actions and targets aim for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals as they relate to children. The Framework is designed to help the Government and its partners to develop appropriate policies that defend children and women’s rights and provide ways of measuring progress.
Both the Children’s Manifesto and the Framework for Action are among the first public requests to be placed on the new Government agenda, underlining the importance of children’s rights in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
The Afghanistan Children’s Manifesto places special emphasis on support for vulnerable and marginalized children, protection of children from abuse and exploitation, and the importance of providing adequate health care and educational opportunities for every child. The Manifesto draws upon the outcomes of consultations with children in Mazar, Kabul and Herat, as well as special conferences for street or working children and other surveys and focus group discussions. The Framework for Action has been drafted by UNICEF, and by the non-governmental organizations Aschiana, Children in Crisis, Child Fund Afghanistan, EMDH and Save the Children Sweden and USA.
Vice President Arsala reminded his young guests that he was the former Foreign Minister who, in 1994, ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on behalf of Afghanistan. Today, he pledged, he would maintain that interest in children’s rights and ensure that the Manifesto was taken seriously by his colleagues in Government and is taken into account in policies affecting children and women.
About the Convention
The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which came into being on 20 November 1989, is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history. The Convention sets out, in a series of Articles, the fundamental rights of all children and the expectations and obligations faced by Governments to uphold those rights.