Parliamentarians urged to support reforms to develop, protect the most vulnerable children
YEREVAN, Armenia, 14 June, 2011 - A major conference of Parliamentarians from Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States was urged today to speed up reforms to support the development and protection of vulnerable children.
More than 40 delegates from 10 countries attended the meeting organised by the National Assembly of Armenia, the Inter Parliamentary Union, and UNICEF. The Parliamentarians were looking at ways to make child rights a reality for the most vulnerable children.
Laylee Moshiri, UNICEF Representative in Armenia speaking on behalf of Regional Director, Steven Allen, described children living in residential care as among the most vulnerable in the region. He said that despite 20 years of reforms the number of children in state run residential care remained static at about 600,000.
“This region has the highest number of children in the residential care and we urged Parliamentarians to support legislation, policy and budget reforms which can bring an end to the practice.”
A key aspect of the parliamentary conference is to expose parliamentarians to experiences from other countries in the region and to provide them with information on how parliaments can use their functions, including budget allocation and oversight, to advance equity agenda for the most vulnerable children.
“This is the first major conference hosted by the Armenian National Assembly after it had joined the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The theme of the conference is important as childhood is a period which determines children’s future. It is therefore our priority to ensure implementation of child rights and provide necessary opportunities for the development of our younger citizens, independently of their social status and location,” President of the National Assembly of Armenia Mr. Hovik Abrahamyan said, addressing the conference participants.
Since the 2002 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children, the IPU and UNICEF have been working on a comprehensive programme of activities which include the production of joint publications and the organisation of specialised panels during IPU statutory Assemblies.
"IPU and UNICEF share the conviction that strong parliaments make for enhanced respect of children’s rights,” said Anders B. Johnsson, Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. “Today, parliaments are faced with even higher expectations than before. The popular movements that we are witnessing these days across the globe clearly demonstrate that people everywhere aspire to democracy and respect for human rights. Parliaments must be responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people and must help ensure respect for the States’ human rights obligations. And this of course includes children and their rights.”
The Conference will focus on two specific issues: 1) "Protecting children from violence" with the focus on the legislative and oversight role of the Parliaments and linking with the Council of Europe campaign against violence, and 2) "Investing in good start in life for the most vulnerable children" with the focus on parliament’s role in budget allocation and implementation oversight.
For more information, please contact: Emil Sahakyan, UNICEF Armenia, +374 91 20 38, firstname.lastname@example.org or Lely Djuhari, UNICEF CEECIS, +792 044482, email@example.com