UNICEF oPt Special Representative’s speech on the 21st anniversary of the CRC
Ms. Jean Gough, UNICEF-oPt Special Representative’s speech in the opening of a dance performance to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
Your Excellencies, honourable guests, ladies and gentlemen, and children,
Thank you for joining us this evening to commemorate the 21th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Your presence here attests to the importance you accord to children.
A special thanks to Iman and her team at the Popular Art Centre for putting together this wonderful evening of dance; and most importantly, to the young dancers whose hard work and creativity we celebrate tonight.
Tonight’s dance culminates a month’s activities to celebrate the Convention and the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People across Gaza and the West Bank. Together with partners, we launched theatrical plays for more than 3,500 vulnerable children in Area C and East Jerusalem; we organised campaigns to promote safe learning environments for children and adolescents organized by the 100 adolescent friendly spaces across the West Bank and Gaza; we trained 32 children on how to produce a series of short films in Gaza; and carried out an operetta by Gaza children - all with the goal of celebrating childhood and focusing public attention and awareness of children’s rights.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This year, the Convention on the Rights of the Child turned 21 years old. It is the first legally binding instrument designed to protect and promote the rights of children under 18 years old.
The Convention sets out rights that children enjoy as human beings and also identifies special rights and protections they require during this vulnerable phase of their lives. It has now achieved near-universal acceptance, with ratification by 193 parties. The Palestinian Authority has endorsed the convention, and has developed a Palestinian Child’s Rights Law (PCRL).
The observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was called for by the UN General Assembly to be the 29 of November. This day of solidarity provides an opportunity for the international community to focus its attention on the fact that the question of Palestine is still unresolved and that the rights of the people and its children who make up 49 per cent of the total population are still unmet.
In the occupied Palestinian territory, child rights are the very foundation of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People and human rights. It is in the hearts and minds of children that we must instill from the earliest age a respect for diversity, solidarity, tolerance, and non-violence. As we are all witnessing, a child growing up in an atmosphere of violence, abuse and exploitation will have the scars of these experiences deeply imbedded in her or his mind. A society that values human rights has an obligation to ensure that it raises its children in a positive atmosphere of respect for human rights, starting with the rights of its youngest citizens.
We all agree that the time has come to place children at the very heart of the Palestinian development planning. In politics and international affairs, there will always appear to be issues that are more urgent and pressing, but nothing is more important than the well-being of children.
I would like to end by making a call to all parties involved in the peace process to put aside differences and think and act with the best interest of the child at heart and in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions.
Enjoy the performance. Shukran……Thank you.