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Major child rights conference convenes over 1,000 participants in the capital of Kazakhstan

ASTANA, 23 November 2016 – A two-day international conference entitled “A Child Friendly Kazakhstan” and devoted to establishing a national dialogue platform to advance Children’s Rights took place at the landmark Palace of Peace and Reconciliation in Astana, Kazakhstan.

This first meeting of what will become an annual conference focused on how to best address the outstanding recommendations presented by the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in its 4th periodic report on Kazakhstan, and culminated with a framework agreement on the next steps towards addressing the recommendations.

The conference marked the 25th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence and the 70th anniversary of UNICEF, which organized the event in support of Kazakhstan’s first Ombudsperson for Children’s Rights, the Parliament of Kazakhstan, and the Ministry of Education and Science.

Conference participants numbered over 1,000, comprising children and youth, Members of Parliament, high-level Government officials, international experts, NGOs, and the media. In the opening remarks Ms. Gulshara Abdykalikova, the Secretary of State, said: “The country is carrying out sustainable work on child rights protection. An institutional basis has been created. Child rights protection is regulated by 16 legislative documents, including the Code on Marriage and Families, on the Prevention of Child Delinquency and the Prevention of Child Neglect”.

The conference received an address from UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake that was delivered by Marilena Viviani, UNICEF Geneva. It was stressed that “each life saved, each life improved, each future brightened stands as testament to this country’s commitment to give every child every chance to survive, thrive, and reach her full potential.” It emphasized that Kazakhstan’s recent achievements for children “clearly demonstrates what can be achieved when political will is harnessed to social resources and investments focused on children.”

The conference resulted in comprehensive and inclusive discussion on children’s rights in Kazakhstan, with the participation of children, civil society and government. National consultations and round table meetings were held in the run up to the conference, which hosted thirteen dialogue platforms representing clusters of CRC recommendations. Each dialogue platform was chaired by a Member of Parliament and/or Government official and, across the range of topics, benefitted from technical support from various international experts, representatives from civil society and UNICEF. Contributions from representatives from European Ombudspersons offices (Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ireland and Russia) were also well-received by the participants. The discussion was also informed by the results of the third round of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey in Kazakhstan, conducted in 2015-2016, which was presented during a high-level event on the 2nd day.

At the end of the conference, the dialogue platforms presented their preliminary actions for addressing the remaining CRC recommendations, which will contribute to developing national, multi-sectoral and systemic approach and action plans for implementation over the next years. “The message is clear: we cannot shape a better, healthier, more prosperous world if we fail to invest in all children — especially the most disadvantaged. No matter where they live, no matter what barriers stand in the way. Everywhere. Governments, civil society, NGOs, the business community and other development partners…have every reason to join forces to invest in these children being left behind”, said Yuri Oksamitniy, UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan.

Children were active participants throughout conference, numbering over five hundred, and participating in the dialogue platforms. Children also enjoyed a festival, concerts, youth discussions and ‘masterclass’ learning opportunities at the nearby Children’s Palace. Kazhimurat Kozhabekov, a youth delegate, called for more support for children’s participation, saying that children “are eager to contribute to the improvement of child wellbeing and the promotion of human values by our active participation in society”.



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