"From Rights to Reality Tracking progress in the SAARC Decade of the Rights of the Child (2001-2010)”
Fifteen years on after the milestone "Rawalpindi Resolution", the UNICEF-SAARC Report examines what has been done and what obstacles remain ahead in the progress towards advancing the Rights of all Children in South Asia.
During the last Summit of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) held in the Maldives on November 2011, UNICEF launched together with SAARC the regional report, Assessment of Progress in the SAARC Decade of the Rights of the Child (2001-2010).
The publication is a reflection of the commitment and action of the Governments in South Asia, to advance child survival, protection and development as articulated in the 1996 Rawalpindi Resolution of the Third Ministerial Conference on Children, which named 2001-2010 the SAARC Decade of the Rights of the Child.
The Report notes that concrete actions taken by all governments have led to impressive gains. South Asian Countries have come a long way in their support to all rights for all children. Countries have established Child Rights Commissions and independent Ministries for women and children to ensure that policies match intent. Budget allocations for education, health and other social sectors critical for children and youth, have increased in many cases and thus policies have been matched with finances. Children’s access to justice has improved and numerous social protection measures that benefit children have been introduced – thus special protection for children and vulnerable groups has advanced.
The report is also clear that much more must be done to ensure that commitment continues to translate into action, and that progress made is sustained. The report highlights that there are considerable variations across all child-relevant indicators of development, both between and within South Asian countries. Social, economic, cultural, and sometimes even geography collude to exclude certain population groups and their children therefore hampering progress towards the MDGs. In South Asia these excluded children face higher risks and are more prone to remain trapped in a cycle of child poverty, under-nutrition, and undereducated with poor access to sanitation. These children remain fragile and more exposed to exploitation.
New and emerging forces in the region also increase their vulnerability: the impact of the global economic crisis that has touched nearly every country, rising fiscal austerity, harsh labor market conditions, the stresses of rapid urbanization, and increasingly catastrophic natural disasters and climate shocks.
Continued and expanded national efforts are required, along with coordination by SAARC at the Regional level, and in collaboration with UNICEF. This includes: developing innovative cooperation mechanisms, particularly South-South Cooperation, leveraging of resources particularly in new middle income countries, focusing on children most in need and targeting the real causes of exclusion and discrimination in the region.
Assessment of Progress in the SAARC Decade of the Rights of the Child (2001-2010)