Not to miss out a single child, we need to refocus on the most vulnerable, says UNICEF Iran Representative on CRC anniversary
Tehran-20 November 2011- Each year, as we approach this date, we remind ourselves of the important commitment we have towards children to protect and ensure their rights. 20th November 2011 marks the 22nd anniversary of the adoption of Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child places a strong commitment on the signatories to provide for the necessary environment and means to enable every child to develop to their full potential. It also calls upon member states and individuals to establish means to protect children from neglect, exploitation and abuse.
The Islamic Republic of Iran played a very important role in drafting the Convention, and on 5 September 1991 it became a signatory followed by the ratification of Parliament on 20 February 1994, albeit with a general reservation that says: "The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran reserves the right not to apply any provisions or articles of the Convention that are incompatible with Islamic Laws and the international legislation in effect." The government of Iran has signed both the CRC’s optional protocols which relate to the special protection of children against involvement in armed conflict and the sale of children and sexual exploitation.
The country has also shown a good progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals ( MDGs).
The situation of Iranian children with regards to MDG2 has improved considerably in the past years. The net enrollment rate in primary schools has increased from 84 percent in 1999 to 99% at present.
Meanwhile, there has been considerable progress in improving Child Survival emphasized as a priority both in the Convention and in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The under-five mortality rate in the country is decreased from 31 per 1000 births in 2009 to 26 in 2011. Also the under-1 mortality rate has decreased from 26 to 22 in 2011 and maternal mortality rate has decreased from 150 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 30 per 100,000 in 2010.
UNICEF also appreciates the positive step of government in establishing the national body on the Convention of the Rights of the Child. We deeply hope this would help implement the Convention more efficiently and further incorporate the best interests of child in all decision-makings.
While great progress has been made in certain areas of child rights at national level, some challenges remain that require further consideration in future planning, policies and decision-making.
Over the last three decades, inequality has soared in most countries of the world. Rising inequalities in income have usually been accompanied by growing inequalities in other respects – including in access to secondary and higher education and to health, both critical for building long-run human capabilities on which long run-prospects for reducing inequalities and reducing poverty depend.
UNICEF totally believes that in order to accelerate progress toward lessening such disparities in a practical and cost-effective way, one should apply the ‘equity approach’ to all child-focused policies and decision-making meaning a refocus on the poorest and most marginalized areas first. This requires a sustained national effort to ensure that not only indicators continue to improve at the national level, but critically they are also addressed at sub-national level, in particular in disparity provinces, urban settings and other areas of concentration of children who are most excluded or hardest to reach.
If we do this, we can dismantle barriers that have excluded those children from the services they deserve. Millions more will live, go to school and live productive lives. It is a great opportunity.
In this path, UNICEF Iran is ready to extend whatever support is required to all children’s organizations, government and non-government, to ensure that all Iranian children and adolescents grow up healthy, well-educated and protected from harm.
This 22nd anniversary of the CRC reminds us of what we have left to do. The Convention demands to place children at the heart of human development – not only because this offers a strong return on our investment (although it does) nor because the vulnerability of childhood calls upon our compassion (although it should), but rather for a more fundamental reason: because it is the right of every child.
 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Country Profile, accessed in Sep, 2011