Beirut, 5 July 2019 – This year we are marking a special anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Thirty years ago, world leaders made a historic commitment to the world’s children by adopting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on November 20th, 1989. This international agreement, signed by Lebanon in 1990, has become the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history and has helped transform children’s lives around the world.
To mark the 30th anniversary of the CRC, UNICEF Lebanon is launching with the Government – centrally and locally- and partners, a series of events to raise awareness on children’s rights and encourage all stakeholders to put children’s rights at the forefront of the social and political agendas in Lebanon. The first activity took place today, when 1000 people gathered at Horsh Beirut for the Child Rights Festival. The event was organized by UNICEF in partnership with the Beirut municipality and attended by the Governor of Beirut, Ziad Chebib; represented by his advisor Sami Bleik, Violet Speek Warnery, acting as UNICEF Representative to Lebanon; the donor community, local and international NGOs, members of the press and, of course, children, youths and families.
“UNICEF’s mission as a UN agency is to protect the rights of every child, everywhere and today, we are happy to celebrate with our stakeholders what has been achieved for children in Lebanon”, said Violet Speek Warnery. “UNICEF recognizes and appreciates all efforts that the national and local authorities, partners, donors and communities are putting together to drive results for the most vulnerable girls, boys and young people. This anniversary is a unique opportunity for each of us to renew the pledge for child rights and strengthen our efforts to accelerate the results that we still need to deliver”.
The festival included different activities, varying from interactive theatre, storytelling, puppet shows, music, paint and craft workshops, hakawati and live performances. Children and young people got the chance to learn about their rights in a fun way, laughing, sharing their impressions with one another and their parents.
During the event, UNICEF Lebanon launched its first Arabic children storybook to inspire children's imagination through the adventures of Jad and Tala. Designed for children aged between 4 and 9 years old, the series promotes child rights and discusses topics affecting children’s well-being and development. Playing is so much fun! is the first book of this series focusing on positive parenting and is being produced thanks to the funding from the EU Regional Trust Fund “MADAD”.
Throughout the year and leading towards World Children’s Day in November 20th, UNICEF will campaign with children and partners to raise the voices of girls, boys and young people calling all stakeholders to take further concrete actions to realise child rights for every child.
Lebanon and child rights
In 1990, Lebanon ratified the CRC and has exhibited commitment to improving the conditions of the children and protecting their well-being. Over the past 30 years, the situation of boys, girls and young people children living in vulnerable communities has significantly improved, in law and practice. Some examples are the establishment of the Higher Council for Childhood in 1994, which is responsible for the care and development of children in accordance with international conventions; Law 220/2000, that recognized the specific rights to disabled persons, including children, such as the right to free health services paid by the Government; or the most recent commitment to free vaccination in all health centres and dispensaries (circular no. 38, 2016), and the launch of the National Non-Formal Education Framework for Lebanon last year.
However, many children are still left behind, and childhood is changing rapidly. Urgent, concrete actions are needed to protect and promote the rights of every child, now, and for future generations. For this, UNICEF supports the Government and other partners to deliver tangible results for children, as we did for one million children in 2018. “Today, –said Violet Speek-Warnery— and every day, we at UNICEF renew our strong commitment to child rights and call all stakeholders, donors and partners, to put the required efforts to address the remaining challenges in Lebanon”. Some key challenges that UNICEF is advocating for in Lebanon are:
- Continued access to safe water and sanitation services to the most vulnerable groups.
- Health policies that ensure free vaccinations at primary healthcare level.
- Quality education for all children, including those with disabilities and learning difficulties.
- Social behaviour change and strong child protection policies to end all forms of abuse, exploitation and violence against children.
- Inclusive policies and strengthened Technical and Vocational Education and Training and skills building programmes to improve youth employability.
- National Social Protection Framework, while improving the existing programmes to support vulnerable families to care for their own children.
- Child-friendly justice procedures and reduced delays, to help children avoid the psychological harms resulting from their participation in judicial proceedings and ensure that detention is used only as last resort.
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.