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Child protection from violence, exploitation and abuse

UNICEF backs legislative reform to achieve human rights for children

© UNICEF/2008/Markisz
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman addresses the Conference on Legislative Reform to Achieve Human Rights at the Millennium United Nations Plaza Hotel in New York City.

By Roshni Karwal

NEW YORK, USA, 19 November 2008 – UNICEF is hosting a two-day conference on making legal systems work to achieve children's and women's rights. The event brings together representatives of governments, non-governmental organizations and UN agencies, as well as academics, parliamentarians and experts on human rights legislation.

UNICEF has played a leading role in encouraging legal reform to realize children's rights, Executive Director Ann M. Veneman noted in her opening remarks at the conference, which wraps up today in New York City. She added that the meeting represented a step toward bringing together key actors engaged in legislative reform initiatives – and launching discussions on how to formalize these initiatives into a coordinated effort to advance human rights.

In conjunction with the conference, UNICEF released a new publication, 'Handbook on Legislative Reform: Realizing Children's Rights'. The handbook is designed to provide guidance for legislators, parliamentarians, jurists, lawyers, judges and others who are working to harmonize national legislation with international human rights treaties and instruments.

© UNICEF/2008/Markisz
A copy of the 'Handbook on Legislative Reform to Achieve Children's Rights', released by UNICEF in conjunction with the conference on human rights legislation.

Bolstering children's rights
"The right laws and policies – properly resourced, implemented and enforced – are an essential foundation for protecting children from violence and promoting their survival, education and development," said UNICEF Associate Director for Gender, Rights and Civic Engagement, Liz Gibbons.

"Enacting legislation to eliminate inequalities is at the heart of gender equality and the empowerment of women, without which the world cannot meet the promises it made in the Millennium Development Goals," she added.

Today is the 19th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), and 10 December 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – making the conference especially timely.

UNICEF's long-term commitment
The meeting in New York is part of a long-term initiative by UNICEF and its partners to help governments adopt legislative and policy frameworks that meet their international treaty commitments.

Through panel discussions and expert presentations, conference participants are sharing their efforts to promote children's rights. Among other areas, experts at the event are exploring legal reforms to address the sexual exploitation of children and genital mutilation of women.

Over the last decade, UNICEF has worked in numerous countries to help harmonize national legislation and legal systems with the provisions of the CRC. The Convention requires that ratifying states take all necessary measures to implement the social, civil, cultural, economic and political rights it recognizes.




18 November 2008:
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman discusses the role of the UN in protecting the human rights of women and children, especially disabled children.
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Ombudsperson for Children in Mauritius Shirin Aumeeruddy-Cziffra describes how she sees other African countries establishing national human rights institutions.
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Congressman Paulo Henrique Lustosa from Brazil illustrates what his country and UNICEF are doing about legislative reform to achieve human rights for children.
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Former Speaker of Parliament in Burkina Faso Mélégué Traoré talks about how his country addressed the human rights issue of female genital mutilation.
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