Policy advocacy and partnerships for children's rights

UNICEF hosts discussion on governance fit for children

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF video/2009
UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Hilde F. Johnson speaks about the need for good governance to be linked with children’s rights.

By Amy Bennett

NEW YORK, USA, 28 October 2009 – In the effort to make further progress on implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), much depends upon delivering good governance for children. At a panel held at UNICEF House in New York yesterday, experts discussed the interdependence between child rights and good governance.

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Participants also sought to identify ways in which governance theories and structures can be better used for the realization of children’s needs and rights. 

Principles and obligations

The panellists included UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Hilde F. Johnson; Brookings Institution Senior Fellow for Global Economy and Development Daniel Kaufmann; African Child Policy Forum Executive Director Dr. Assefa Bequele; and UN Development Programme Anti-Corruption Advisor Phil Matsheza.

The head of Child Protection for Save the Children UK, Bill Bell, moderated the discussion.

“Governance and child rights are mutually reinforcing,” said Ms. Johnson. “Child rights principles as outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, provide a set of values that are key guiding principles for the work of governments – not only guiding principles, they are obligations.”

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF video/2009
Dr. Assefa Bequele, Executive Director of the African Child Policy Forum, discusses how governments can be assessed on their commitment to child rights.

Damaging impact of corruption

Also discussed during the panel was the damaging impact of government corruption on children. Corruption is a barrier to getting services to children, participants agreed, adding that there is a direct correlation between high levels of corruption and high child mortality.

“The work that’s been going on in the government sector on those issues can help enormously to increase our effectiveness in delivering and achieving children’s rights,” said Mr. Bell.

“The most important thing we want is to hold decision-makers accountable,” Mr. Matsheza noted after discussing the principles that must guide governance.

Governance fit for children

Dr. Bequele presented a unique way of determining which governments are child-friendly and which are less so, based on the core principles of the CRC. What really matters, he argued, is not the economic status of a country but the degree to which its laws and policies take children into account.

Strengthening linkages between the governance and child rights agendas can help advance both. On the 20th anniversary of the CRC, it is increasingly apparent that good governance is a prerequisite for realizing child rights – and that it must be a greater focus of international attention in order to achieve the ambitions embodies by the Convention.

“We need governance fit for children,” said Ms. Johnson, “not only to achieve the Millennium Development Goals but also to achieve the rights of children – to help them survive and thrive, to protect them and ensure that they have the basic needs for their survival.”


 

 

Video

27 October 2009:

UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Hilde F. Johnson speaks about the need for good governance to be linked with children’s rights.
 VIDEO  high | low

Dr. Assefa Bequele, Executive Director of the African Child Policy Forum, discusses how governments can be assessed on their commitment to child rights.
 VIDEO  high | low

Brookings Institution Senior Fellow for Global Economy and Development Daniel Kaufmann discusses the role of data in determining good governance.
 VIDEO  high | low

UN Development Programme Anti-Corruption Advisor Phil Matsheza speaks about the challenges of fighting government corruption, and how it affects children's needs.
 VIDEO  high | low

Head of Child Protection for Save the Children UK, Bill Bell, talks about the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child as background and inspiration for the discussion on children and good governance.
 VIDEO  high | low

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