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Fulfilling our commitments to children

How can we reach the children who are the most vulnerable to ensure their inclusion in essential services and protect them from harm, exploitation, abuse and neglect? How can we ensure that we will know enough about them to guarantee their rights?

Routine development initiatives pitched at the general population with the aim of including as many children as possible, risks failing to reach the most excluded children. Understanding their plight and the factors behind their marginalization, and then targeting initiatives towards these children, must therefore form an integral part of national strategies on child rights, development and well being and strategies to reach the goals of the Millennium agenda.

The root causes of exclusion and the main factors that contribute to making children invisible must be tackled by eradicating extreme poverty, combating HIV/AIDS, providing special assistance to and protection for children caught up in conflict, maintaining assistance to children in failing States, and addressing discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, gender or disability.

Bringing invisible children out of the shadows and creating inclusive societies require that all duty bearers work to ensure that no child is forgotten. International agencies, donors, governments, civil society, the media and the private sector must all take responsibility for the inclusion and protection of children. The principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child must be more consistently integrated into development strategies.

Governments must make sure that their laws promote the rights of children and that they are allocating sufficient resources toward ensuring the quality of life of the next generation of citizens, particularly those who have been excluded from receiving social benefits and services. Civil society organizations can provide a forum for the voices of directly affected peoples to be heard. The private sector has made some important strides toward greater social responsibility for children. However, continued work and vigilance is required. The media plays a significant role in bringing excluded children into the light, challenging all to act. Respect for the views of children must be promoted within the family, schools and institutions.