Children in the Pacific region and millions more around the world celebrated World Children’s Day yesterday, 20 November, marking the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC30).
The day is part of UNICEF’s global day of action for children, by children, with events across the Pacific region this year involving Prime Ministers, Presidents, parliamentarians, schools and communities.
In Tonga, a youth parliament will take place over the coming weeks, with guidance, supervision and support from the Office of the Legislative Assembly. The Lord Speaker has commissioned a steering committee to lead the youth parliamentarians participating.
In the Federated States of Micronesia, a National Youth Summit is being held this week as well as the launch of a youth-led U-Report programme using digital technology with key guest President HE David Panuelo. The College of Micronesia is partnering with UNICEF for the event where students will produce films and photos to document the summit.
In Fiji, Prime Minster Hon Bainimarama recommitted to the CRC on 20 November by signing a global pledge in an event held with children in his office. On 14 November, another CRC event saw Ba Muslim Primary School students take over their school assembly and emergency evacuation as part of the UNICEF-supported disaster preparedness in schools programme.
In Kiribati a U-Report programme will be launched by the President and youth utilising digital technology while in Nauru, the government is holding a national event with children and communities.
In Samoa a media campaign will be led by youth and in the Solomon Islands, Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare will present a speech on child rights and there will be child rights activities held in schools.
Events in Vanuatu inlcuded youth reporters visiting communities to learn more about early childhood development programmes to improve the lives of children in the country. They hosted a talkback show with the Government of Vanuatu, UNICEF and Save the Children and a live talkback show on early childhood development was aired on 20 November.
“We are proud to be working with many governments across the Pacific region who have signed the global pledge to re-commit to the Convention on the Rights of the Child this year and are demonstrating the importance of children having a voice in the development of their countries. We acknowledge the support and commitment of the governments in protecting, promoting and fulfilling the rights of children on this momentous occasion,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Sheldon Yett.
30 year CRC progress report
The CRC is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history that was adopted thirty years ago, when world leaders united around a common cause and adopted the agreement to help transform children’s lives.
Since then, there have been historic gains overall for the world’s children.
However, many of the poorest children are yet to feel the impact, according to The Convention on the Rights of the Child at a Crossroads, a new report released this week as part of commemorations marking CRC30.
The report looks at the undeniable achievements of the past three decades, proof that where there is political will and determination, children’s lives improve.
Over the past three decades, the report notes that the global under-five mortality rate has fallen by about 60 percent. There has been a decrease in this rate in majority of Pacific Island countries with the highest recorded in Kiribati at almost 50 per cent.
2.6 billion more people have cleaner drinking water today than in 1990. In Kiribati, the number of schools with improved access to clean water has increased from four per cent to 30 per cent.
While the CRC guiding principles of non-discrimination; the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and the right to protection, have been used to influence numerous constitutions, laws, policies and practices in the Pacific region, progress has not been even.
Children from the poorest households are twice as likely to die from preventable causes before their fifth birthday than children from the richest households.
The report also addresses age-old and new threats affecting children in the Pacific.
Children are physically, physiologically and epidemiologically most at risk of the impacts of the climate crisis. Rapid changes in climate are spreading disease, increasing the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, and creating food and water insecurity. Unless urgent action is taken, the worst for many children is yet to come.
The report calls for more data and evidence to accelerate progress in advancing child rights, and to address stagnation and backsliding in some of these rights.
It also calls for more involvement of young people in co-creating solutions along with parents, caregivers, education and social workers, communities and governments, civil society, academia, the private sector and the media.