UNICEF Kosovo Statement for World Children’s Day
Today we are marking the 34th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on Rights of the Child. The CRC serves as our guiding light, recognizing the inherent rights of every child to life, health, education, and protection.
This is an important day for all of us as child rights advocates to stop and reflect: to recognize how much progress has been made in the lives of children, to acknowledge how far we still need to go, and to think about how much we need to support children to adapt to their rapidly changing world.
Today we are marking World Children’s Day at a very difficult time for children, especially when it comes to the situation in the State of Palestine and Israel. The true cost of this latest escalation will be measured in children’s lives – those lost to the violence and those forever changed by it. After little more than four weeks, the devastating tally is quickly adding up, with rampant grave violations being committed against children daily. Only the parties to the conflict can truly stop this horror. UNICEF is calling on the parties to implement an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, to safely release all abducted and detained children, and to ensure that humanitarian actors have safe, sustained, and unimpeded access to reach those in need.
In the State of Palestine, in Ukraine, and in many other places around the world- Children do not start conflicts, and they are powerless to stop them. They need all of us to put their safety and security at the forefront of our efforts, and to imagine a future where all children are healthy, safe and educated. No child deserves any less.
As we travel the road ahead of us, I find myself thinking about the next 30 years. What will the world look like, and how will it affect our children? What actions must we take today to ensure that our children and grandchildren can live up to their full potential?
Every child on Earth is already affected by the planetary crisis of climate change, environmental pollution and biodiversity loss. One billion children are already at particularly high risk. The only long-term solution is to drastically reduce emissions, while also ensuring that environmental sustainability translates to economic opportunity and social inclusion. But make no mistake- the effects of the crisis are already here, will worsen in the coming decades, and are being felt most keenly by those who contribute least to the causes of climate change and environmental degradation.
The climate crisis, and its current and future impacts, pose an unprecedented challenge to children, especially the most vulnerable. Solutions require more than any one organization, government or business can provide. Children cannot wait for change. They deserve to be supported by a global movement focused on preventing further global warming and mitigating its worst effects. And together we must ensure that society’s most vulnerable members– its children – are at the center of this response.
This year the Committee on the Rights of the Child published the landmark General Comment No. 26 on children’s rights and the environment, with a special focus on climate change. It calls on parties to take urgent steps to fulfil their obligation to ensure children’s right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, including ensuring this right for future generations.
In this regard, we commend Kosovo institutions’ ambitious climate change mitigation and adaptation plans, including efforts to reduce emissions and improve air quality by increasing the share of renewables, improving energy efficiency, and strengthening the functioning and regional integration of Kosovo’s energy markets. The development of a voluntary Nationally Determined Contribution is very important step forward. We call on the responsible authorities to ensure meaningful consultation with children and young people during this process.
There has been good progress in other areas of child rights here in Kosovo in the last year, including:
- The successful establishment of Child Rights Teams in 34 municipalities, a key provision of the Child Protection Law;
- The approval of the new Law on Early Childhood Education; and
- Passage in the Assembly of the first reading of the new Law on Social and Family Services.
In 2024 we hope to see acceleration in other important areas, including:
- Effective implementation of the planned reform of the Social Assistance Scheme, which has significant potential to reduce poverty and enhance children’s well-being.
- Roll-out of the new preschool curriculum and expansion of access to early childhood education services, including through scale up of community-based models and private -public partnerships.
- Implementation of the education sector strategic plan, especially the creation of a digital unit in the MESTI to oversee the digital transformation of teaching & learning.
- Creation of a Specific Grant for Social Services, to ensure sustainable funding for social services at the municipal level.
We must also honor commitments made to the most vulnerable and excluded children, especially children with disabilities. UNICEF calls on the authorities to finalize and approve the draft Law on Evaluation, status recognition, benefits, and services for persons with disabilities as soon as possible. This draft law has our support, and the support of the majority of civil society organizations working with people with disabilities.
This November 20, let us reaffirm our commitment to the well-being of every child. The success of our endeavors rests on the dedication and collaboration of every individual who cares about children. Together we can create a world where every child's right to health, education, protection and quality care is not just acknowledged, but actively safeguarded.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.