Children’s Rights as the core theme of UNICEF’s work in the Country
The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was approved by the United Nations in 1979, is the most widely accepted international instrument everywhere in the world, and it involves accepting that boys and girls are subjects of their own rights and states the need to change their way of perceiving and behaving in relation to children and adolescents.
Up till now, all the States Parties, with the exception of the United States of America and Somalia, have ratified the Convention. Its widespread acceptance has increased the role of boys and girls’ in the task of achieving universal respect for Human Rights.
When they ratify the Convention, governments commit to protecting and ensuring children’s rights and have accepted their responsibility in full view of the international community for fulfilling this commitment. The Dominican Republic ratified the convention on 11 June 1991. With this step the Dominican State took on the responsibility to fulfill and distribute the contents of the convention, as well as to create national legislation that incorporates its principles.
The Convention has become the main instrument through which UNICEF has redefined its policies at a global, regional and national level. It has changed the way in which the organisation provides cooperation, offering a general framework and focus to define strategies for defending and promoting Children’s Rights. Children have the right to grow up in an environment that guarantees their survival and development, meaning that they have an intrinsic right to life, to a name, to a nationality, to live with their parents, to enjoy a standard of living that enables them to develop physically, mentally, spiritually, morally and socially, to enjoy the highest possible level of health, to receive an education that contributes to the development of their full potential, and to enjoy their right to recreation and play.
They also have the right to protection, to non-discrimination, to stay in their country, to be protected against child labour and against all types of abuse, mistreatment and exploitation, and in cases where they commit an offence, they have the right to be subject to a penalty that considers the possibility of re-education and social re-integration according to the stage of development they are at.
In the same way, minors have the right to participation, meaning that they are allowed to express their opinion freely, to seek, receive and distribute information, to have freedom of thought and association, and to practice the religion of their choice.
All these rights are equally important. From this starting point, UNICEF-Santo Domingo works and supports the Dominican State in tackling the wide range of children’s and adolescent´s needs.
UNICEF’s cooperation programmes in the Dominican Republic in the last 15 years, have been characterised by stages that range from the perspective of thematic programming (health, nutrition, education, minors in especially difficult circumstances) to programming that is focused on fulfilling the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This has involved following up of the platform for action for children and women in the fulfilment of the Global Children’s Summit objectives and the approval of national legislation on child protection (Law 14-94).
In this last five-year stage UNICEF has supported the revision of previous legislation and the entrance into effect of the Code for the System of Protection and the Basic Rights of Children (Law 136-03). Likewise, it has accompanied the country in the fulfilment of its commitment to the Millennium Development Goals.
The new law has led to significant progress in the country’s adjustment to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Its application represents a challenge for both government and non-governmental institutions.
Children’s Rights Observatory presents statistics