Parliamentarians discuss how to bolster children's rights
By David Ponet
BANGKOK, Thailand, 6 April 2010 – More than 600 parliamentarians from over 120 countries gathered in Bangkok from 27 March to 1 April to discuss how to better realize children’s rights. The 122nd Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly addressed parliamentarians’ role in fulfilling the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and including young people in democratic processes.
“Parliaments throughout the world are uniquely positioned to create real and lasting change for children,” said UNICEF Regional Director for the East Asia and Pacific Region Anupama Rao Singh.
“As legislators it is our duty to each other and to future generations to see to it that the terms of this Convention are translated into enforceable national laws,” added IPU President Dr. Theo-Ben Gurirab, who is also Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Namibia.
Accomplishments of the CRC
During a panel organized by the IPU and UNICEF, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Violence against Children Marta Santos País described the many accomplishments of the CRC.
“Over these 20 years, children’s rights issues have gained increasing attention at the international, regional and national levels,” she said. “This historic process of change is due in large part to parliamentarians, who have played a key role in responding to challenges that the Convention poses for all countries, large and small, rich and poor. By joining hands with parliamentarians, the protection of children's rights can evolve from a concern of a few into a priority for all.”
Egyptian Member of Parliament Syada Greiss emphasized the need to reduce disparities. “In particular, we must address the cultural barriers that continue to lead to discrimination, and prioritize the rights of the girl child,” she said.
Visits to children’s centres
Parliamentarians visited an early childhood development centre that cares for children while their parents, who could otherwise not afford care, are working. They also saw a UNICEF-supported community centre for migrant Cambodian children, many of whom work on the streets and are at risk of trafficking.
At the end of the assembly, parliamentarians adopted a resolution affirming the crucial role youth participation in fostering and strengthening democracy.
“Child participation is one of the guiding principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said Nepal Youth Representative Nanu Adhikari. “It is one of the most important rights for children, as it enables them to express their views and opinions, receive information, influence policy outcomes and involve themselves in all matters that affect their own lives”.