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Colombian government reviews commitment to children

© UNICEF Colombia/2005
Colombia’s Attorney General Edgardo Maya with some of the young participants of the meeting.

BOGOTÁ, Colombia, 9 March 2005 - Top-ranking government officials attended a meeting today at the Tequendama Hotel in Bogotá to review more than 1000 proposed national and regional development plans and determine whether they adquately address children’s issues. The meeting was organized by the office of the Attorney General of Colombia with support from UNICEF.

Colombia’s Vice-President, Francisco Santos, was on hand, as was Attorney General Eduardo Maya, General Director of the National Institute of Colombian Welfare, Beatriz Londoño and UNICEF Representative Manuel Manrique. There were also twenty-eight  of thirty-two state governors in attendance. 

“The fact that such a great majority showed up, shows that they are committed to the wellbeing of children,” said Manrique.

© UNICEF Colombia/2005
The panelists sing the Colombian national anthem during the opening ceremony.

A group of children from various regions of the country also participated in the meeting.  They asked the governors to always keep children’s interests in mind.

The country’s Attorney General, assisted by UNICEF, conducted an independent analysis of all state and municipal agencies’ development plans for 2002 through 2006 and found serious inconsistencies between the issues affecting Colombian children and the resources and priority given to them by the state.   

The findings show that the country’s municipalities are investing less than 30% of their resources to combating the most critical children’s issues such as sexual abuse, labour and sexual exploitation, school drop-out rates, homelessness, gang involvement, and criminal activity.  Only immunization and education were included in more than 75% of the development plans.

© UNICEF Colombia/2005
Colombian Vice-President Francisco Santos addresses the participants.

Since 1994, the governors of all 32 Colombian states are required to submit detailed development plans to the Presidential Palace at the start of each 4-year tenure. This is the first time that the Attorney General has conducted a review of the development plans.  The review aims to gauge how well the country has adhered to the social plans outlined in the International Convention of Children Rights, which Colombia adopted in 1991.

The independent analysis studied government action with regard to 37 areas concerning children, including education, basic health, and safety.  It also sought to explore whether authorities had factored in the specific needs of each of the three major age groups of children -- infancy (0-6 years), grade school age (7-12 years), and adolescence (13-18 years).

“The purpose of the meeting was not to simply listen to the review.  Everyone there was interested in finding viable solutions,” said Manrique. 

At the end of the session, the governors vowed to meet with the mayors of their respective districts to discuss ways to strengthen their development plans and implement measures to better ensure children’s rights.  They promised to implement new changes by December 31, 2005.



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