The State of the World's Children

At launch of flagship report, Lucy Liu and Ann M. Veneman celebrate achievements for children

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From left: Advocate and former child soldier Grace Akallo, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lucy Liu and Executive Director Ann M. Veneman display copies of the special edition of ‘The State of the World’s Children’ commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, at the report’s launch at UNICEF House.

NEW YORK, USA, 19 November 2009 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lucy Liu and advocate and former child soldier Grace Akallo joined Executive Director Ann M. Veneman today to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). To mark the occasion, UNICEF has released a special edition of its flagship publication, ‘The State of the World’s Children’, outlining progress made on children’s rights over the past two decades.

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As the most widely ratified human rights document in history, the CRC – adopted by the United Nations on 20 November 1989 – is a landmark achievement. At a press conference at UNICEF House launching ‘The State of the World’s Children’, Ms. Veneman said one of the Convention’s most significant achievements has been its contribution to a reduction in the annual number of deaths of children under the age of five – from 12.5 million in 1990 to fewer than 9 million in 2008.

She went on to point out that about 84 per cent of primary school-aged children are now in school, and the so-called gender gap – the numbers of boys compared to girls who are in school in the developing world – is shrinking.

However, Ms. Veneman cautioned, the CRC stands at a pivotal moment, and the gains of the last 20 years should not obscure the work that remains to be done for children deprived of even their most basic rights to survival and development.

Greater protection for children
The report outlines other needs, as well, including the challenges that face millions of children living with HIV and the plight of young people caught in violent conflicts.

Ms. Akallo called for greater protection for children suffering from all forms of violence. “Children have suffered all over the world,” she said. “They have been kidnapped, sold, beaten, malnourished, neglected and written off as worthless.”

Having been recruited into an armed group in Uganda at the age of 15, Ms. Akallo has formed a support network with other former child soldiers. “No child should have to live through what I have seen and felt,” she said.

‘It’s the only thing to do’
Actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lucy Liu added that the anniversary was an urgent reminder to place children at the heart of human development.

“It’s not merely the right thing to do,” she said. “It’s the only thing to do if our future on this planet as a human family is to hold any promise at all.”

Tomorrow, on the actual anniversary date of the CRC, a commemoration of its first 20 years will take place in the Trusteeship Council chamber at UN headquarters.


 

 

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19 November 2009: UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on the launch of the flagship publication marking the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
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