espite 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, protecting child rights is more urgent than ever – and a critical key to building stronger, more stable societies,” said Dr. Suleiman Braimoh, UNICEF Liberia representative. “We need to stop these violations by investing more in reaching the most vulnerable children, or pay the price in slower growth, greater inequality, and less stability.”
Liberia ratified the CRC on 4 June 1993. 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.
“There has been a lot of progress for children in Liberia since the end of the conflict, and we are now working on improving the situation for children after the devastating Ebola outbreak – when every child was affected in some way or another, including being out of school, or losing a parent or guardian,” says Madam Julia Duncan-Cassell, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection.
“We are continuing to work on efforts to end violence against children, protect them, and improve access to all services.”
Since ratification, Liberia has taken several steps to protect children and empower them to reach their full potential, most notably passing the Children’s Law in 2011 and its subsequent launch in 2012.
The Children’s Law not only provided an inclusive Bill of Rights for children but also stipulated that the best interests of the child must influence all decisions and actions affecting children.
UNICEF has supported the establishment of the Women and Children’s Protection Section of the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the Child Justice Section of the Ministry of Justice for the purpose of providing greater access to justice for vulnerable children and women.
UNICEF up until 2015 also supported a four year social cash transfer program, providing cash to vulnerable labor constrained households, helping vulnerable children to access health and education. UNICEF is also working with the Government of Liberia to increase access for children to education, health services, water, sanitation and hygiene, and lifesaving information.
Despite marked progress for children globally in recent decades, nearly 6 million children still die every year from preventable causes across the world – and children from poor households are twice as likely as children from wealthier homes to die before reaching their fifth birthdays.
Globally, 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. Across the world, around 250 million children 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 added Dr. Braimoh. “Our commitment to child rights must be matched with action for every child.”