Convention on the Rights of the Child marks its 18th anniversary
Maputo, 19 November 2007 – On 20 November, it will be exactly 18 years since the United Nations General Assembly officially adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This anniversary is an occasion to celebrate 18 years of increased chances for children to survive the challenges of the first years of life, to grow and to develop, while enjoying their rights to education, health, participation and protection.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first international legal instrument that includes in 54 articles and two Optional Protocols all the civil, cultural, economic, political and social human rights that children have. In ratifying the Convention, governments commit to protect and guarantee the attainment of these rights, by enshrining them in national legislation and policies.
“This is a very special celebration for all of us. Eighteen years of the existence of the Convention means 18 years in the growth of a child, of healthy development of the child’s capacities so that he can make the best choices in life and participate significantly in his community”, said Leila Pakkala, the UNICEF Representative in Mozambique
This commitment of the Mozambican government to achieving the rights of the child was further strengthened by the strong participation of the Mozambican delegation in the 2nd Pan African Forum on Children, held in Cairo, Egypt, from 29 October to 2 November of this year. The Forum resulted in an Appeal for Accelerated Action to renew and speed up efforts to attain the targets of the Millennium Development Goals, of the World Fit for Children, and of an Africa Fit for Children.
Significant advances have been made in harmonising national legislation and policies with the Convention, with gradual gains in the welfare of Mozambican children. One of these gains is the improvement of mother and child health. Although the infant mortality rate remains high, it has been declining over the past five years.
Equally clear is the improvement in the access to education, The number of children in primary schools has grown substantially from 1.7 million in 1997 to about 3.8 million last year. The school fee for basic education, an obstacle for most children from poor and vulnerable households, was abolished in 2004.
In 2004, revision of the legal framework for child protection began. This is expressed in strengthened provisions to benefit children in the various national legal and political instruments, such as the Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty, the new Family Law, the National Child Action Plan, the bill on child protection and the bill on the jurisdictional organisation of minors, among others.
However, much remains to be done. The United Nations report “Childhood Poverty in Mozambique”, published at the end of last year, notes that 49 per cent of Mozambican children still live in absolute poverty and are deprived of their fundamental rights.
In support of the government’s efforts, UNICEF and other United Nations agencies have been collaborating with partners such as Save the Children, the Community Development Foundation (FDC) and various other NGOs in strengthening the capacity of civil society organizations to achieve the rights of the child in Mozambique.
Participation is one of these rights. Children should have opportunities to express their points of view, conditions should be established so that their opinions are listened to and given due weight and importance, particularly in taking decisions about matters that concern them.
UNICEF, in collaboration with other United Nations agencies, government institutions, and non-governmental partners, has promoted the participation by children and adolescents in radio and television programmes made by children for children, in school clubs, in counselling services on sexual and reproductive health, in decision making and consultative forums at local and national level, such as the Children’s Parliament, and the Development Observatories, among others.
As part of the celebration of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, for example, UNICEF organised this year in Mozambique a workshop in which children and adolescents learnt, with national and international professionals, how to take and use photographs to document and express their points of view about the reality in which they live, and the matters that concern them. An exhibition of these photographs is being prepared for next year, and some of them can already be seen on the UNICEF Mozambique website (www.unicef.org/mozambique).
For more information please contact:
Thierry Delvigne-Jean, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Mozambique, Tel: (+258) 82 3121820; Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Emídio Machiana, Communication Officer, UNICEF Mozambique, Tel : (+258) 820305100, Email : email@example.com
Luis Zaqueu, UN Communication Officer, UN Resident Coordinator Office, Tel : (+258) 21 48 51 58/59, Mobile: (+258) 82 308 2470, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
View a selection of photos taken by children
[View photo essay]