UNICEF welcomes strengthening of the Ombudsman system for children in Ukraine
Kyiv, 15 August 2011 – UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) appreciates the efforts of the President of Ukraine to address children's issues and welcomes his initiative to establish an Ombudsman for Children at the Presidential Administration. On August 11th the President of Ukraine appointed Mr. Yuriy Pavlenko, former Minister for Family, Youth and Sport, as Presidential Ombudsman for Children (Decree # 812/2011). The new office of the Presidential Ombudsman for children will complement the available structure for children within the Parliamentary Ombudsman for Human Rights Office, strengthen the mechanisms to address children's issues in Ukraine and empower the advocacy role of both institutions.
The principle of having a Children’s Ombudsman is gaining popularity around the world. Such offices encourage the fullest possible implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and support collective lobbying for children’s rights. UNICEF considers establishment of the office of Ombudsman for Children within the Presidential Administration as a substantive step in the creation of an independent ombudsman institution for children in Ukraine.
Ukraine's ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child marks its 20th anniversary this year. The country, however, still faces immense challenges and children often bear the consequences of limited access to quality health care, and a growing number of young Ukrainians are becoming vulnerable to infectious diseases outbreaks due to a decline in childhood immunisation coverage in the country. The capacity of care providers to reach the most-at-risk adolescents also needs to be strengthened, and still more actions are needed to ensure protection of the rights of children in institutions and reducing the number of children deprived of parental care and children placed in institutions due to poverty, disability and abuse. Independent Ombudsmen try to make sure that the policies affecting children put their interests first.
Dr. Dainius Puras, former member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child and Rapporteur for Ukraine, mentioned: “I would like to welcome this significant step in strengthening the system of child rights protection in Ukraine. Usually the Committee considers Parliamentary Ombudsman for Children to be the most independent and effective model. Also, the Committee recommends that introduction of this position needs to be legislatively mandated. Whatever the institutional framework is, I would encourage strengthening all needed safeguards of independence of Ombudsman’s for Children institution”.
During the process of the implementation of the administrative reform in Ukraine, establishing a Presidential Ombudsman for Children, in addition to the one existing within the office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman for Human Rights, will strengthen child rights monitoring and protection and be a major leap forward in safeguarding children and putting them at the centre of the policy agenda. The key tasks of the Ombudsman for Children are to ensure constant monitoring of the child rights situation in Ukraine and implementation of related international commitments by Ukraine as well as to combat and prevent child rights violations; develop legislative proposals and President's Decrees in the area of child rights; and raise public awareness of child rights issues.
Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine stressed: “UNICEF stands ready to offer to the newly established Ombudsman for Children Office in the Presidential Administration its technical and expert support in developing the office’s internal structure and ensuring that key functions are in place to effectively monitor implementation of child rights and ensure their full observance in Ukraine”
Natalia Astapova, Policy and Monitoring Officer
Yulia Yurova, Communication Officer
About UNICEF in Ukraine: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 150 countries. UNICEF opened its office in Kyiv in 1997. More information about UNICEF in Ukraine: www.unicef.org.ua