Tomorrow, November 20, is the Universal Children’s Day as declared by a resolution approved by the United Nation’s General Assembly (UNGA ) in 1954. It is a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding among children, with activity devoted to promoting the ideals and objectives of the Charter and the welfare of the children of the world. It was on November 20 that the UNGA adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.
The convention, which is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty, sets out a number of children’s rights including the right to life, to health, to education and to play, the right to family life, to be protected from violence, not to be discriminated against and to have their views heard.
In a statement, the UN calls on all people to promote and celebrate children’s rights, and continue building up a living-friendly environment for children in the world through dialogue.
The UN’s outgoing Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in a message says far too many children languish in jail, mental health facilities or through other forms of detention. Some children are vulnerable because they are migrants, asylum seekers, homeless or preyed on by organized criminals.
Whatever the circumstances, the convention dictates that the deprivation of liberty must be a measure of last resort, and for the shortest time. The world’s aim must be to pursue the best interests of the child, prevent the deprivation of liberty and promote alternatives to detention.
Mr. Ban reveals that the UN is preparing a global study that aims to shine a light on the scale and conditions of children deprived of their liberty and secure the protection of their rights. The study will gather relevant data, identify good practices and help countries grasp the worrisome magnitude of the phenomenon and design measures to address it. The UN chief also says this year’s observance comes at a time when 60 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes – more than at any time since the Second World War. Almost half of them are children fleeing oppression, terrorism, violence and other violations of their human rights. This observance also comes following the landmark adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which can point the way towards peaceful, prosperous and inclusive societies for all. He says that achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals will depend crucially on reaching the most vulnerable children.
Meanwhile, 20 Sri Lankans including authors, film directors, journalists and sports personalities have come together with about 200 international writers to compose ‘tiny stories’ of around seven lines each. The aim is to highlight the injustice caused to millions of oppressed children. This will be one of the main events of the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) which is marking its 70th anniversary this year. Each ‘tiny story’, written on the theme ‘what I want for every child’, will be shared by its author on their own social media, accompanied by the hashtag #ForEveryChild.
According to some shocking and shameful figures, worldwide more than 50 million children have been uprooted from their homes due to conflict, poverty and climate change and millions more are facing violence in their communities. Around 263 million children are out of school and last year, nearly six million children under five died from mostly preventable diseases.
On Thursday, President Maithripala Sirisena said he would introduce a national policy with immediate effect to ensure the welfare and security of children. Speaking at a special meeting at the Presidential Secretarial to launch a national programme on the theme “let’s protect the children”, the President called upon all people to create an atmosphere where the children are secured.
A special presidential task force has been set up to prevent child abuse while providing nutrition and welfare for the children. The President also asked that court cases relating to children be expedited with care and concern to ensure that the child’s mindset is not affected.