Celebrating Universal children’s Day
To implement Child Rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child
Kabul, 23 November 2010- Children’s rights in Afghanistan need to be further strengthened through a comprehensive Child Act fully in line with the provisions and principles of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.
Today in Afghanistan one in five children die before reaching their fifth birthday -- mostly from easily preventable diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia – five million children are still out of school; over three million of whom are girls and only six percent of children are registered at birth, leaving the great majority of children without the right to a legal identity, protected and cared for by law.
”We are acutely aware of the difficulties facing the Government of Afghanistan in trying to improve the rights of Afghan children especially in the light of the ongoing conflict in the country that continues to pose tremendous challenges to the delivery of basic services and has affected the institutional delivery structure and its accountability,” said UNICEF Representative Peter Crowley. “Governments are the principal custodians of children’s rights and the Government of Afghanistan needs to commit to implementing a complete legal framework to fully protect all children. UNICEF is ready to assist in that process.”
Currently the Constitution of Afghanistan (2004) provides for progressive guarantees of international human rights standards, but there is little direct reference to the specific rights of children. A Child Act would encompass the full array of children's rights, including the right to health and education, the right to recreation, prohibition against torture, prohibition against mental, physical and sexual violence and abuse as well as means to monitor and identify appropriate forms of redress. The Act would supersede all preceding legislation not in line with the CRC, and to accord the CRC a legal status that could be directly invoked within the domestic legal system. However UNICEF urges that a successful implementation of a Child Act will only be reality when it enjoys true ownership and commitment from senior levels in the Government of Afghanistan.
Improving birth registration, eliminating early marriage, assisting and protecting children affected by armed conflict and violence and addressing poverty – one of the root causes of child labour – are urgent issues that require immediate attention and response. Providing children with access to schools, the opportunity to develop and an education free of violence are the only ways to bring about true and lasting change for the future of Afghanistan. UNICEF continues to support the government of Afghanistan in addressing these issues.
On 20 November 2010, the Convention on the Rights of the Child reached 21 years of age. The Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 November 1989 setting out minimum global standard for children’s health care, education and children’s access to legal, economic and social services. The guiding principles of the Convention include non-discrimination; the primacy of the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and developments; and the right for children’s voices to be heard in all matters concerning them.