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Twenty years later: Progress being made for children but much more work lies ahead

By Ann M. Veneman, published in Metro.
19 November 2009 – The Convention on the Rights of the Child is a universal standard for building a better world – a world in which the best interests of children are a primary concern of all.  This November 20th the global community commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Convention, the most widely ratified international human rights treaty in history.
The era of the Convention has seen marked advances in child survival and development, expanded and consolidated efforts to protect children, and a growing recognition of the importance of empowering children to participate in their own development and protection.
One of the most outstanding achievements in child survival and development has been the reduction in the annual number of under-five deaths, from 12.5 million in 1990 to less than 9 million in 2008.
Fewer child deaths have resulted from the immense efforts of national governments and the international health community to prevent and control diseases, enhance food and nutrition security, and provide comprehensive, integrated services.  But much more must be done to make the promise of the Convention a reality for every child around the world.
More than 24,000 children under the age of five still die every day from largely preventable causes.    And, millions of children, particularly in Africa and Asia, still lack access to quality health-care, food, education, adequate water sources and shelter.  Even more, between 500 million and 1.5 billion children are estimated to experience some form of violence each year.
These statistics alone are a sobering reminder of the work that lies ahead.  The Convention has paved the way for the consolidation of child protection as a holistic concept, offering children the right to be safeguarded against a broad spectrum of violence, exploitation, abuse, discrimination and neglect.
The challenge for the next 20 years is to build on the progress the Convention has already achieved, working together to reach those children who are still being denied their rights to survival, development, protection and participation. 

About the UNICEF Executive Director
Ann M. Veneman assumed the leadership of UNICEF on 1 May 2005, becoming the fifth Executive Director to lead UNICEF in its 60-year history. Prior to joining UNICEF, Veneman served as Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture.
At UNICEF, Veneman directs a global agency of over 10,000 staff and annual total resources of more than $3 billion, funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of governments, businesses, foundations and individuals. Since assuming the position of Executive Director, she has traveled around the world, witnessing firsthand the work of UNICEF, speaking at meetings and conferences, and visiting heads of state or government and other partners.

For further information, please contact:
Christopher de Bono, UNICEF NY,
Tel + 1 212 303 7984;
E-mail: cdebono@unicef.org




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