In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), an event was organized at BMICH on September 16
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that was inaugurated on November, 1989 proclaims that a child must be raised in the society with the essence of peace, tolerance, decorum, equality, freedom and solidarity. The Charter of the United Nations further signifies the validity of the above statement. It has become 25 years since launching the Convention which is also universally accepted. The convention supports the rights of every child regardless of their social status in terms of caste, class, race, ethnicity, sex and their religious and political background. 54 Articles are identified according to the Convention which stresses on the rights of a child.
In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of this Convention, an event was organized at BMICH on September 16 to promote the rights of children. The former Cricket Captain, Mahela Jayawardena, Singer Neela Wickramasinghe, child actor Pramuditha Udayakumara, actress Ms. Pooja Umashankar, UNICEF representative to Sri Lanka, Ms. Una McCauley and Country Director PLAN, Mr. Supriyanto and singers and accapella group Voice Print were the distinguished guests at the event. The event focused on how every child must gain equal access to education, prevention from abuse and violation and their right to address and get involved in decisions that affect their lives.
Sri Lanka has ratified the CRC in 1991 and since that time, it had worked diligently towards the welfare of the children, preserving their rights and in granting them the right to access equal education and health. Furthermore, it has approved of the legislations to safeguard children from violence.
Speaking to the media, the UNICEF representative to Sri Lanka, Ms. Una McCauley said, ‘the CRC is the beginning of a countdown activities that is run by the UNICEF, government and NGOs in Sri Lanka and the country has achieved a vast amount of rights for children in the long run.’
‘Tremendous progress has been achieved since then, including, near universal access to free primary health and education as well as legislation to protect children from violence, harm and abuse.’
‘As right holders, children must be recognised as an individual and must be considered as precious. The convention has had a far more reaching effect than earlier in the context of preserving the rights of a child’.
McCauley further stated that a workshop was arranged for 700 students in the country and they had a debate on the impact of the CRC on children’s life. This has improved and given a better insight into issues relating to the CRC and has been instrumental in identifying that violence is an issue that needs to be subdued.
‘We all have a common responsibility to safeguard and protect the rights and well-being of all children’ added McCauley. Furthermore, McCauley stated that a formal assembly on Children’s Rights is to be held on November 20.
On the other hand, the civil society plays a major role in being responsible for ensuring the rights of a child. If the society is not corrupt and sets a better example to the younger generation this would naturally help in securing the rights of a child. According to Mr. Supriyanto, Country Director of PLAN, ‘the civil society has a lot to contribute towards the rights of a child. It brings communities together and helps in focusing on the children.’
It is the firm belief of Mr. Supriyanto that the civil society must spread the word of children’s rights as it would promote the improvement in children’s right for education and their skills and knowledge in various academic and extra-curricular activities. Children should not be used or looked upon merely as an object that would benefit the future; they are active participants in our society and their involvement in society would be for the best interest of society. Mr. Supriyanto further stated that launching campaigns and workshops on Children’s Rights would raise further awareness among the public and facilitate in child protection.
Speaking to the media, the former Cricket Captain, businessman, entrepreneur and child rights activists, Mr. Mahela Jayawardena signified the importance of been involved in this humanitarian cause. He stated that he lost a brother due to cancer at the age of 15 and since then, Jayawardena has been closely involved with projects involving children. He is an active participant of the cancer hospital that is been built in Maharagama. Also Jayawardena stated that the cancer hospitals in the North and East have been successfully completed.
‘I was lucky enough to be in the North and East; four years ago we went to the schools there and provided the students with equipment and professional health they need to prepare for a cricket tournament. Their improvement through the last two years is brilliant’ Jayawardena said.
He further said that they were able to take a combine school team from this particular region to England last year and this was the first time that these children owned a passport.
It was the first time that these students were able to be in a European country like England and according to Jayawardena, this had been the first time that these students had left their home town and country. He said that it is vital that everyone must fight for the rights of a child’s education, health, security and for their right to grow up into a worthy citizen. He further stated that he is proud to be a part of this humanitarian cause.
The Convention has been instrumental in numerous occasions in addressing the welfare issues of children. ‘I owe my existence right now to UNICEF’ said actress, Ms. Pooja Umashankar at the event held yesterday. She said that the involvement of UNICEF had been highly useful for her mother’s higher education for which she had to travel to India. The actress stressed on the importance of promoting the rights of a child as it would benefit children from all parts of the world.
The conference highlighted the importance of identifying the issues relating to the violation of children’s rights and further affirmed the significance of improving the implementations with regard to the rights of the child. Speaking to the media, singer, Ms. Neela Wickramasinghe said it is the duty of every individual to regard this with serious consideration. Ms. Neela has been involved in the UNICEF projects and has been active in fighting against Polio and this has helped immensely in saving children.
Sri Lanka is one out of the few South Asian countries that has achieved in fighting against and lowering the level of children’s death due to preventable causes. It also has taken great efforts to clear away the land mines due to which many lives were lost. This was achieved by promoting mine risk education which was highly useful in saving the lives of the people. These are some key factors apart from the facts mentioned above that have been instrumental for the reasons behind celebrating the Convention on the Rights of the Child.