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Afghanistan reaches historic milestone for children’s rights

© UNICEF Afghanistan/2009/Sweeting
His Excellency M Kaare Aas, Norwegian Ambassador to Afghanistan.

In the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – a landmark international agreement on the basic human rights of all children – UNICEF is featuring a series of stories about progress made and challenges that remain.

By Ash Sweeting

KABUL, Afghanistan, 17 August 2009 – The Afghan Ministry of Foreign affairs launched its first report on the Convention of the Rights of the Child, which was ratified by the Afghan Government in 1994.

The report makes recommendations on how the Afghan judicial and legal systems can be reformed, and how new laws can be adopted to ensure that Afghanistan complies with the international standards of child rights. The launch of the report was an historic milestone for children’s rights in Afghanistan.

© UNICEF Afghanistan/2009/Sweeting
Afghan Foreign Minister Dr. Rangeen Spanta speaking at the launch of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Rangeen Spanta hosted a ceremony to mark the event, which was supported by UNICEF and its partners.

Commitment to child rights

At the event, Dr. Spanta stressed the challenges that Afghanistan faces, explaining that a lack of public awareness regarding laws and principles is hampering the rights of children, and perpetuating problems such as forced and early marriage, violence and child labour.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is fully committed to support human rights in this country regardless of all threats and difficulties,” said Dr. Spanta.

The Government of Norway was a major donor to the effort, and Norwegian Ambassador Kaare Aas was on hand for the ceremony.

“Investing in children today is key to ensure the well-being and productivity of future generations,” said Ambassador Kaare Aas. ”Children who grow up in an atmosphere of conflict, abuse and mistrust will not have the platform necessary to contribute to the construction of a democratic and stable society.”

© UNICEF Afghanistan/2009/Sweeting
Afghanistan has launched the country’s first report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Capitalizing on the momentum

Afghanistan has also ratified the two Optional Protocols on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on child prostitution and pornography.

On behalf of the Government of Afghanistan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has now submitted the report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva.

With the continued support of the Government of Afghanistan, civil society and international partners, this report provides UNICEF and all child rights activists with a solid framework to continue to improve the lives of the children of Afghanistan.

“We need to capitalize on this momentum,” said UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan Catherine Mbengue. “So that we can work, all of us, with a greater sense of urgency to bring a brighter future to each and every child of this country.”



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