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UNICEF Representative's Opening Remarks in CRC Reporting Workshop

Mr Alvandim Head of the NBCRC and Advisor to the Minister of Justice

Ladies and Gentlemen

Asalmu Alukum Wa Rhamat Allah


8 June 2014, Tehran- It is a great pleasure for me and my UNICEF colleagues to be with you this morning for opening this important Workshop on CRC Reporting.

The establishment of the NBCRC (National Body on the Convention of the Rights of the Child) is a very important milestone in fulfilling the rights of all children in Iran. While fulfilling the rights of the children is a shared responsibility between all sectors and institutions in the society, coordination of the efforts of all stakeholders, monitoring and reporting on progress towards the fulfillment of children’s rights are key functions of the NBCRC. This workshop is intended to further strengthen the coordination, monitoring and reporting role of the NBCRC.

I have been asked by the organizers of this workshop to focus my opening remarks on the history of the CRC and the importance of giving attention to child rights.

I would like to start by highlighting the fact that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 has been an important turning point in international law. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was born out of the unprecedented human suffering during the Second World War. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights furnished the ground for all human right treaties such as the CRC; the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights; the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and many other treaties.

Let me now share with you a very brief history of the evolution of the CRC.

The desire to have an international treaty focusing on the rights of children goes back to 1959 when the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

In 1976 the UN General Assembly proclaimed 1979 as the International Year of the Child with the objective of enhancing the awareness of the special needs of children on the part of decision-makers and the public.

In 1978 Poland submitted to the Commission on Human Rights a draft Convention on the Rights of the Child. The draft convention submitted by Poland was based on the Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1959. The idea was to move from a declaration which is not legally binding to a convention that is legally binding to member states.

The draft proposal from Poland went into many discussions, revisions and changes between 1979 and 1988 until it transformed after 10 years into the current Convention on Rights of the Child adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 November 1989.

The CRC entered into force on 2 September 1990 thirty days after the instrument of 20th ratification was deposited.

On 5 March 1993 the Committee on the Rights of the Child published a draft optional protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

On 9 March 1994 the Commission on Human Rights established a process for developing a draft optional protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

On 18 January 2002 the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography entered into force.

On 12 February 2002 the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict entered into force.

A third optional protocol on a communications procedure was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 19 December 2011 and entered into force in 2014.

It is important to note the difference between a declaration and a convention. A declaration does not involve any signing or ratifying. While a convention requires signing and ratifying by the countries that chose to join the convention. Ratification carries the legal obligation on the member state to make relevant national laws consistent with the provisions of the ratified treaty with the exception of the specific clause/s the country may choose to reserve the right not to comply with at the time of ratification.

Let me now move to the question of why it is important to pay attention to the rights of the children.

In answering this question I would like to focus on three important points:

The first point I would like to emphasize is the fundamental difference between the concept of rights and the concept of needs. There is often no clear responsibility or accountability for the satisfaction of the needs of children. However, when we talk about the rights of children, we talk about duty-bearers who are people (such as parents) or institutions (such governments) responsible and accountable for providing these rights. We also talk about children as right-holders who have the legal grounds to claim their rights and hold the duty-bearers accountable and responsible for fulfilling their obligations and duties towards the rights of the children. If we say a child has a right to education, it means the parents and the government are obliged to provide education for the child. The law will include a provision to protect the right to education for every child. And if a child is not provided with education, there is a legal ground to hold the parents or the government accountable.

The second point I would like to emphasize is the establishment of measurable standards for the fulfillment of each right. For instance, all countries have accepted primary education up to grade 5 is the minimum requirement to fulfill the right of every child to education.

The third point I would like to emphasize is the fact that human right instruments and treaties such as the CRC have allowed countries to formulate their development plans around the agreed rights. Not only that, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are designed to fulfill specific human rights such as the right to life, the right to food, the right to dignified life, the right to clean drinking water, the right to education, the right to healthy life free from diseases, and so on. Furthermore, international development cooperation to achieve the MDGs and higher levels of human rights has given developing countries the right to receive development assistance from rich developed countries. The fulfillment of human rights and children rights is now perceived as a shared global responsibility of mankind. The protection of the rights of children is every ones responsibility.

Let me stop here as I am sure your workshop will go into many detailed discussion of this topic.

I once again would like to thank the NBCRC for organizing this workshop. I would also like to thank the facilitators of the workshop and wish you a successful and fruitful workshop. 

Thank you for your attention.

Mohamed El Munir Safieldin

UNICEF Representative in I.R Iran.    



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