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Children’s Rights is Everyone’s Responsibility, says UNICEF Iran Representative on CRC Anniversary

Tehran, 20 November 2010 - Twenty one years ago, on November 20th 1989, world leaders agreed that children needed a special convention to provide them with the necessary care and protection and help them reach their full potentials: “The Convention on the Rights of the Child”. Today the Convention on the Rights of the Child is known as the most widely accepted legal document in the world, placing a strong obligation on governments and individuals to recognize the rights of children as individuals with fundamental human dignity. Set out in 54 articles and two optional protocols, the Convention applies to all children regardless of race, color, gender, language, religion, opinions, origins, wealth, birth status or ability.
At UNICEF, all our actions are guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and in support of the fulfillment of the Millennium Declaration and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Meeting the objectives of the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Goals fosters fulfilling the rights of children, because ultimately children are at the heart of both.

The Islamic Republic of Iran played a very important role in drafting the Convention, and on 5 September 1991 it became a signatory followed by the ratification of Parliament on 20 February 1994, albeit with a general reservation that says that; "The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran reserves the right not to apply any provisions or articles of the Convention that are incompatible with Islamic Laws and the international legislation in effect.". In addition, the government of Iran has also signed both the CRC’s optional protocols which relate to the special protection of children against involvement in armed conflict and the sale of children and sexual exploitation

A major part of UN and UNICEF’s role is to assist member states including the Islamic Republic of Iran to meet its commitments in implementing the Convention and reaching the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Evidence has shown that the latter  is most effectively done by applying a so-called“equity approach”. By this we mean prioritizing the delivery of interventions to children who are the most deprived, who suffer the greatest exclusion or who fall furthest outside existing safety nets.
Today, on the 21st anniversary of the CRC, is a welcome opportunity to assess where we stand in terms of progress and challenges in fulfilling the rights of children in the Islamic republic of Iran.
A major positive development for child rights in Iran has been the establishment in January 2010 of a new National Body for the Monitoring of the Rights of the Child under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice. Extending an openhand of cooperation to our new partner, we sincere hope and expect this will help further implement the Convention and extend the practice to consider the best interests of the child in all decisions and areas that affect a child’s general well-being.
Secondly, the Government’s took an important and warmly welcomedstep on September 2010 in signing the second Optional Protocol to the CRC aimed at protecting children from involvement in armed conflicts. UNICEF  looks forward to Iran’s ratification and accession of this protocol in the near future.

The development of new and comprehensive national “standards and guidelines for care and protection of children in emergencies”, focusing specifically on children’s protection needs in and following emergencies is seen as another important area of progress in Child Protection. Convened with technical support from the State Welfare Organization, Ministry of Welfare, Iranian Red Crescent and UNICEF Iran, its provisions for Child protection in emergencies was adopted as a national standard by the Institute of Standards and Industrial Research of Iran in February 2010.

In addition, there has been considerable progress in improving Child Survival emphasized as a priority both in the Convention and in the Millennium Development Goals. The under-five mortality rate is currently estimated to stand at 31 (per 1000 births) in 2009, down from 73 in 1990 and a further reduction from 31 to 24 to meet the MDG4 by 2015 is achievable. The number of infant mortality (deaths of children less than 12 months per 1000 live births) has also dropped, from 55 in 1990 to 26 in 2009 .

However challenges remain that require further consideration in future planning, policies and decision-making.

Disparity reduction remains a high priority in Iran as it is in many other middle-income countries. Applying the ‘equity approach’ to all child-focused policies and decision-making requires a sustained national effort to ensure that not only indicators continue to improve at the national level, but critically they are also addressed at sub-national level, in particular in disparity provinces, urban settings and other areas of concentration of children most excluded or hardest to reach.

Certain initiatives in the area of legal reform and policy development for Child Protection have experienced long delays. The “Juvenile Justice” bill, drafted more than 5 years ago in 2005, is still pending ratification by the Parliament while the “Child Protection Code” bill for protection of all children against violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, is still pending before the Council of Ministers for approval and subsequent submission to Parliament.

Last but not least, children in Iran face an increasing health risk due to  injuries and accidents. Unintentional injuries presently account for nearly 20% of all deaths of children under five years of age in Iran, the second highest cause of death after congenital disease.Road accidents also continue to claim the lives of many young people, in addition to leaving many more disabled each year.

Today, while celebrating our success and reviewing the challenges, we jointly reflect with all in society on our joint all-encompassing responsibility for the new generations and renew our ongoing dialogue andcooperation for joint action to ensure that all Iranian children and adolescents grow up healthy, well educated and well protected from harm.




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