Signs of progress
There are many successful programmes
that governments and communities have created with UNICEF support to help
realise children’s rights:
a number of Philippine villages, a holistic approach to early childhood
care and development combines health, nutrition, psychosocial care
and early education services for young children. The
child-care centre provides children the time to play and books and
other materials to explore. Health and nutrition workers teach parents
how to better care for their children, administer routine immunisations
and maintain a map of all the houses in the village, which documents
each child’s growth rate, access to iodised salt and other micronutrients,
and to clean water and sanitation facilities.
- In Bangladesh, a memorandum
of understanding was signed in 1995 by the ILO, UNICEF and the Bangladesh
Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, resulted
in the placement of child workers in school programmes
and significantly reduced child labour in the garment industry.
The children’s jobs were offered to qualified adult family members.
- In Bolivia, UNICEF
has supported the introduction of a National Insurance Programme
for Maternity and Childhood to remove financial barriers to health
services. This has increased the numbers of women and children under
five receiving health care. In the span of two years,
the number of prenatal visits increased by 63 per cent, deliveries
in health facilities were up by a third, and the number of children
treated for pneumonia increased by 40 per cent.
- In the West Lombok district
of Indonesia, the local government requires that new buildings include
latrines. Between 1994 and 1998, UNICEF
supported the construction of 25,000 new latrines per year in the
district, compared to 1,500 before the programme began.
- In Niger, UNICEF
provided better agricultural tools and supplies to women who often
work 14 hours or more a day to gather and prepare food for their
families, resulting in increased output of cereals and
the establishment of a co-operative cereal bank. This cereal bank,
in turn, sold the grain to poor families at reasonable prices during
the pre-harvest season. As a result, children’s malnutrition levels
- In Yemen, UNICEF
is helping bridge the gender gap in schools by assisting in training
female teachers, supporting the construction of schools,
strengthening the relationship between schools and community, and
engaging media, religious and civic leaders to raise awareness of
a girl’s right to education.
Other international organizations
also have programmes to protect children from violence and armed conflict.
programme entitled Child Connect utilizes the latest telecommunications
technology to reunite lost children caught in conflict or natural
disaster situations with their parents. The
project initiated by the International Rescue Committee uses a shared
database available to all agencies in the field who can post data
and photographs pertaining to lost children as well as search requests
from parents. Searches that once took months can now be completed
- A new
disaster response programme, which will provide and maintain mobile
and satellite telephone service as well as microwave links for humanitarian
This will greatly improve and quicken humanitarian responses to
the many unpredictable disasters we face today.
areas need improvement?
Despite the many impressive achievements
recorded over the past 10 years, there are still far too many children
being denied their rights to survival, good health, education and development.
And a significant number of countries are still failing to meet many obligations
under the CRC. Gender, ethnic and linguistic discrimination continue to
stunt children’s potential in countries around the world. Armed conflicts
continue to deny children their rights and millions of children are being
displaced and forced into refugee situations.
characterised by poor sanitation, malnutrition, unsafe drinking water
and inadequate health care, all of which clearly hamper the enjoyment
of human rights by both children and adults.
The HIV/AIDS scourge has emerged
as the biggest threat to societies’ realisation of their children’s rights.
It is killing parents and turning millions of children into orphans –
so far there are 13.2 million – who drop out of school and who are forced
into extremely hazardous labour in factories or brothels to earn money.
Already meagre resources of many governments are being used to fight the
disease, denying other vital sectors of the economies important revenues.
Taken together, these issues
represent some of the enormous challenges that the international community
has to overcome in its efforts to ensure children their full rights.
do we go from here?
To help protect children’s rights
the Secretary General has proposed the following goals in his Millennium
Governments adopt a target of half the proportion of people
living in extreme poverty by 2015, and, in so doing, lifting more
than 1 billion out of it.
2005, demonstrably narrowing the gender gap in primary and secondary
education. By 2015, all children complete a full course of primary
With the heads of the World Bank and the International Labour Organisation,
a high-level policy network will be convened on youth and employment
to create effective approaches to youth unemployment.
The reduction of HIV infection rates in persons 15 to 24 years of
age by 25 per cent within the most affected countries by 2005 and
by 25 per cent globally before 2010.
- Governments establish
prevention targets of at least 90 per cent by 2005 and at least
95 per cent by 2010 of young men and women must have access to the
information, education, and services they need to protect themselves
- Developing countries work
with their pharmaceutical companies and other partners to develop
an affordable, effective vaccine against HIV.
water: To reduce by half
between now and 2015 the proportion of people who lack sustainable
access to adequate sources of affordable and safe water.
How can rich
countries help achieve these goals?
free access to their markets for goods produced in developing
countries and to adopt, as a beginning step, at the Third UN Conference
on the Least Developed Countries, a policy of duty-free and quota-free
access for essentially all exports from the least developed countries.
or, better, cancel the debt
of the heavily indebted poor countries who are stuck in the poverty
trap and divert much needed funds for health and education programmes
to service their debt.
- Be more
generous in granting development assistance,
particularly to countries who are making great strides in poverty
with pharmaceutical companies in developing an affordable and effective
HIV for wide distribution to developing countries.
strong partnerships with the private sector in combating
special provisions for the needs of Africa
in its struggle to overcome the continent’s problems.
our fellow men and women from the scourge of war.
our fellow men and women, and especially our children and grandchildren,
from the danger of living on a planet ruined by human activities
and whose resources can no longer provide for their needs.