Children urge leaders to protect their rights while World Vision calls on governments to ratify new treaty
MISSISSAUGA, ON, Nov. 17, 2014 /CNW/ - A quarter century since the Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted, a glaring gap remains between its promises and the daily reality for millions of children, says World Vision. Children around the world have echoed this sentiment in a collection of letters published today by the international development organization to mark the Convention's 25th anniversary on November 20.
Written by children who want their governments to work harder to protect their rights, the letters highlight how the Convention has brought progress to their lives, but also reveal fears and concerns around child marriage, forced labour, violence and lack of access to healthcare and education.
"As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, my message to our government is to thank them for their efforts to improve education. But most important, to alert them to the reality of the poorest children in the most remote villages, and the need to ensure they have equal access and opportunities as the more privileged children in cities," writes 16-year-old Alice from Sierra Leone.
"Basic health rights are still violated in Haiti: only 40 per cent of children in my country have access to health services. The heath centre closest to my home is located tens of kilometres away. You cannot get there if you do not have any money," writes 16-year-old Julien.
"The conflict has caused psychological problems and made [Syrian children] introverts, destroyed their feelings and ruined their childhood. They were deprived of many of their rights, mainly the right to study and the right to play," says Mau'men, a 14-year-old Syrian refugee in Lebanon.
"The Convention on the Rights of the Child has radically changed the way children are viewed and treated. But the rights of millions of children are still ignored, trampled and overlooked. Governments must prioritize children's rights, especially when setting new goals to tackle poverty, injustice and inequality. And when children's rights are violated, they must have access to justice," says Sara Austin, a director at World Vision Canada and children's rights advocate.
Making rights a reality
Although the Convention is the most widely endorsed human rights treaty in history, it should be stronger and more accountable. An international coalition of NGOs – including World Vision – is urging all governments to ratify the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This gives children the ability to report particular instances of rights violations directly to the UN. The UN will investigate their claim and can direct the child's government to take action.
World Vision is also calling on world leaders to guarantee children's rights are included within the post-2015 framework and goals to tackle poverty, injustice and inequality.
A new Ipsos Reid poll for World Vision has also found that Canadians feel the rights of children around the world must be prioritized:
- 92% agree that protecting children's rights should be a priority in decision-making at all levels
- 90% feel that the Convention on the Rights of the Child needs more clout and should be strengthened in order to keep its promises to children
- 90% believe that when their own governments fail to protect their rights, all children should have access to higher justice at the United Nations
Many children's rights are ignored today:
- The right to protection from harm - 85 million children labour in jobs that threaten their physical, emotional and psychological health;
- The right to survival - 6.3 million children die before their fifth birthday;
- The right to have views taken into account - 11% of girls are married before they turn 15;
- The right to an identity- 230 million children do not have birth certificates, limiting their access to healthcare and education.
World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. Visit our News Centre at worldvision.ca
SOURCE: World Vision Canada
For further information: For interviews with World Vision spokespersons, contact: Britt Hamilton - mobile: 416-419-1321, [email protected]