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Children are citizens today: Adapting the CRC to a new century

Convention on the Rights of the Child

KUALA LUMPUR, 17 August 2011 – Citizenship and the right to be an equal, active participant in society are not limited to adults. The more children are involved in public affairs, the more they learn and develop as responsible citizens, stressed Vice-Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Professor Yanghee Lee, at a dialogue attended by Malaysia’s top media professionals.

Organised by UNICEF and the Malaysian Press Institute (MPI), the dialogue themed “Children are citizens today: Adapting the CRC to a new century” was an effort to help the media reflect upon the special responsibilities they carry, and inspire them to be enablers of expression for citizens of all ages, including children. The dialogue discussed how the media can give children an avenue where they will be listened to as a citizen, not just a child.

Involving children

“There is little doubt that children have become more visible in society,” said Professor Lee in her keynote address. “One of the biggest remaining challenges is to involve children in the decision-making processes, in all matters affecting them. All societies publicly claim that children are our future. But if we do not recognise our children in the present, how do we expect that they will have a future?”

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) states that all children are entitled to the rights to name and identity, information, expression, association, justice and non-discrimination. UNICEF aims to help fulfil these rights by empowering children to be producers, not just subjects and users of media.

“As representatives of the general public, the media has a particularly important role in protecting and promoting children and their rights,” urged Mr. Hans Olsen, UNICEF Representative to Malaysia. “Rather than being just a source of entertainment, the media has the power to help children broaden their knowledge, engage with society, and develop their citizenship skills.”

Advancing child rights

Professor Lee is visiting from Korea to meet with the government, NGOs, media and children. Her visit also serves to help facilitate Malaysia’s second progress report on efforts to advance child rights in the country. The report is due to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (based in Geneva) in 2012.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child is an internationally-elected body of independent experts that monitors how well governments are meeting the standards for the realisation and protection of children's rights enumerated in the CRC. It is the most universally accepted human rights document in history.



The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is an international treaty that recognises the human rights of children, which include: the right to survival; the right to develop to the fullest; the right to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and the right to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. Since the adoption of the Convention in 1989, countries have adopted new constitutions which include child rights and some countries have adopted consolidated child right statutes, such as Child Acts. The Convention has also played an important role in promoting the abolition of the death penalty for children and in promoting a universal ban on corporal punishment. Other major improvements include the establishment of intergovernmental coordinating mechanisms and independent bodies, such as children’s ombudspersons, tasked to monitor the implementation of children’s rights.

Professor Yanghee Lee

Professor Yanghee Lee has been a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child since 2003 and has served as its Chair from 2007 – 2011 and is currently serving as its Vice-Chair. A national of the Republic of Korea, Professor Lee currently holds joint appointments in the Law School, Department of Child Psychology and Education and Department of Human Resource Development at Sungkyunkwan University. Professor Lee has been the recipient of many recognitions and awards including the 2007 Year of the Woman Award (Korea) and the 2007 Sungkyun Family Award. She is the recipient of the 2009 Order of Civil Merit (Suk Ryu Medal), the highest recognition given to a civilian in South Korea, for her work in protecting and promoting the rights of children worldwide.

For more information, please contact:

Indra Kumari Nadchatram
UNICEF Media Malaysia
Tel (+6.03) 2095 9157 ● (+6) 012 292 6872

Davina Chan
UNICEF Media Malaysia
Tel (+6.03) 2095 9154 ext. 2236 ● (+6) 016 914 1600





Convention on the Rights of the Child

Malaysia: child rights

Children in the Media

A Guide to Media Policy in Malaysia. Read

Ethical Reporting Guidelines

Principles and guidelines for ethical reporting on children and young people under 18 years old. Read

Newsline: Media partnerships


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