Universal Children’s Day: A wake-up call on child rights violations
Ha Noi, 20 November 2016 – Despite enormous progress realized for children since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, the rights of millions of children are being violated every day, UNICEF said today as it marked Universal Children’s Day.
“With conflicts, crises, and crushing poverty putting millions of children’s lives and futures at risk in the world, protecting child rights is more urgent than ever – and a critical key to building stronger, more stable societies,” said Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, UNICEF Representative in Viet Nam. “We need to stop these violations happening around the world by investing more in reaching the most vulnerable children, or pay the price in slower growth, greater inequality, and less stability.”
Viet Nam was the first country in the region and the second country in the world to ratify the CRC in 1990. The world’s most rapidly and widely ratified human rights treaty, the CRC sets out a basic, universal standard for a healthy, protected, decent childhood for every human being. Since ratification, the lives of millions of children in Viet Nam have been improved and the country has made steady progress in poverty reduction, school enrollment, maternal mortality and child mortality.
However, the progress have not been shared equally. Children from ethnic minority groups in remote mountainous areas are twice more likely to experience various and serious forms of deprivations than those from the Kinh majority. Prevalence of infant mortality, early marriage and lack of access to sanitation and education are much higher among ethnic minority children.
The recent enactment of the Child Law by Viet Nam’s National Assembly is in many ways a genuine breakthrough in the protection of children from violence by introducing for the first time an approach that covers both the prevention of violence before it happens, and responding to violence when it does happens. However, the Child Law still considers a child to be someone under 16, rather than the age specified in the CRC of under 18 which leaves the 16-18 year olds unprotected. UNICEF will continue to call for the age of the Child Law to be raised to 18.
Despite marked progress for children globally in recent decades, nearly six million children still die every year from preventable causes – and children from poor households are twice as likely as children from wealthier homes to die before reaching their fifth birthdays.
Nearly 50 million children have been uprooted - 28 million of them displaced by conflict. Children trapped in besieged areas – including Syria, Iraq, and northern Nigeria are at greater risk of having their rights violated, with their schools, hospitals and homes under attack. Globally, around 250 million live in countries affected by conflict.
Almost 385 million children live in extreme poverty and over a quarter of a billion school-aged children are not learning. Nearly 300 million children live in areas with the most toxic levels of outdoor air pollution – six or more times higher than international guidelines.
Next month UNICEF will mark 70 years of working to bring life-saving aid, long-term support and hope to children whose lives and futures are endangered by conflict, crises, poverty, inequality and discrimination.
“Every child has the right to grow up healthy and strong, to be educated and protected, and to have a fair chance in life,” said Mr Abdel-Jelil. “Our commitment to child rights must be matched with action for every child.”
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.