Dear Members, Friends and Visitors,
It is the 20th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC): It is now twenty years since the CRC was opened for signature on 20 November 1989, and entered into force on 2 September 1990. The CRC is the most ratified human rights treaty in human history; It is the most comprehensive treaty and legal instrument for the promotion and protection of children’s rights; it is the first to articulate the entire complement of rights relevant to children; economic, social, cultural, civil and political.
The CRC provides a set of commitments that are designed to guide the world in its attempt to ensure all children survive and develop, are protected and respected, and are encouraged to participate in decisions that affect them. Its vision is a world of peace, tolerance, equity, respect for human rights and shared responsibility – in short: A WORLD FIT FOR CHILDREN.
WFO shares the same vision; it is committed to promoting means, opportunities, equal rights and chances for family members to assume their role and function in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. It believes that a strengthened family would engender healthy and well developed children.
The first years of life are the most critical and formative to future growth and development. This is when the brain matures and personality develops and when psychological and social patterns of bonding with family members and the community at large are established. The family is the first contact for the child to receive affection, interaction and stimulation, and learning through exploration and discovery.
WFO believes that the family is central for the transmission of human values and the development of individuals into responsible and self-reliant personalities. It also recognizes the primary role of the family in providing the best start in life for children by ensuring their young children’s rights to survival, development, protection and participation.
The CRC sets out the rights of children in 54 articles and two Optional Protocols. It spells out the survival, to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. UNICEF is guided by the CRC; since it is mandated by the UN General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to ensure that their basic needs are met, and their opportunities are expanded to reach their full potential.
The rights articulated in the CRC are based on four core principles – non-discrimination; the best interest of the child as primary consideration in matters that affect them; rights to life, survival and development, and respect for the views of children. The Convention also identifies the obligation of States to all they can do to deliver these rights, and acknowledges the special role of parents in their children’s upbringing.
The CRC turns twenty while WFO has been preparing its four-year strategic plan (2010-2013); a plan that focuses on delivering programs that focuses on poverty reduction, health systems’ strengthening, education for all, descent housing provision, and peace building within the family. Those areas of focus would create an enabling environment for families to raise their children and help them in achieving their full potential.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child turns twenty at a volatile time, when economic, climate and population shifts threaten recent advances in child rights. But the commemoration must be treated as a source of inspiration to advance the rights of all children, everywhere. With sound leadership, creative collaboration and strong determination it can be an opportunity for governments and other stakeholders to renew their commitments and forge supportive environments that will advance and safeguard child rights.
Mrs. Lara Hussein
WFO Vice-President for Family Policy Coordination