|© UNICEF Liberia/2009|
|UNICEF Representative in Liberia Isabel Crowley and Liberian Minister of Defense Brownie Samukai at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to protect child rights.|
In the run-up to 20 November 2009, the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF is featuring a series of stories about this landmark international agreement on the basic human rights of all children – including progress made and challenges that remain. Here is one of those stories.
MONROVIA, Liberia, 17 November 2009 – UNICEF and Liberia’s Ministry of National Defense have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen their cooperation in ensuring that children’s rights are fully respected in interactions between the military and the population – especially those involving children living in military barracks.
“This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Liberia is on the right track in meeting its commitments,” said UNICEF Representative in Liberia Isabel Crowley. “Cooperation with the armed forces is one step further in ensuring that all branches of the government fully integrate the principles of the CRC.”
Rights of women and children
As part of the agreement, UNICEF will provide sensitization material to inform the military about children’s issues and ensure that the rights of children are not overlooked. A special component on childrens’ rights will be added to the training of all armed forces.
In addition, the military will closely monitor the situation of children in its barracks and ensure that any cases of suspected abuse are immediately referred to a relevant care provider.
“The armed forces of Liberia are committed to respecting the rights of all citizens, especially children. By collaborating with UNICEF, we want to make sure that all soldiers and officers in the country are aware of their duties and what they need to do to protect children and women,” said Minister of Defense Brownie Samukai.
Liberia and the CRC
Liberia ratified the CRC in 1993. This year, it is submitting to the Committee on the CRC a combined report on the treaty's implementation in the country.
Children and women bore a heavy burden during 14 years of civil conflict here. For the past six years, Liberia has been at peace and has made significant progress in respecting the rights of children and women. Since 2005, the country has enacted four different pieces of legislation specifically addressing the CRC.
In December 2002, Defense Ministers of 13 West African nations – including Liberia – vowed to put the CRC on the military agenda by mainstreaming child-rights protection into military training for all members of security forces.
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