Interview: UN official outlines three major challenges in protecting children's rights

21:44, November 06, 2009      

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The international community is facing three major challenges in protecting children's rights, a senior UN official said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

The three challenges included recognition of children as full individuals, protecting children and ensuring their full rights according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and universal registration of newborns, said Jean Zermatten, Vice-Chairman of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

People always neglected the rights of children and thought children should obey adults. But now they must change their conception and recognize that children were not products or articles owned by adults, parents, communities or states, Zermatten said.

"A child is a full person and born with rights," he said, and it was a very big challenge for society to recognize and accept this new concept.

The main challenge was to understand this new concept, not only for states which had signed and ratified the CRC, but also for parents, schools, doctors and all professionals working in the field of children, Zermatten said.

"It is a great challenge, because it's basically a change in the attitude of adults towards children," he added.

The second challenge, according to the UN expert, was the effective implementation of all provisions in the CRC. The international community, states, provinces and cities must guarantee all fundamental rights of children, including the rights to food, housing, education and health.

The authorities needed to provide the necessary services to children during their growth so that they could play their future role in society, he said.

The delivery of services under the CRC also meant protecting children not only against events such as natural disasters, but also all forms of abuses, including labor and sexual exploitation.

Zermatten said the third major challenge, the personal rights of children, was related to the new concept of recognizing the child as a full individual.

All children must be registered at birth with their names, identities and nationalities. Children should also have the right to express themselves, access to appropriate information, and privacy, he said.

Zermatten noted many problems in meeting those challenges, including difficulty in protecting children in cases of natural disasters because disasters were unpredictable.

He said the development of new technologies such as the Internet also posed some new problems. "The Internet has brought many benefits for education and communication, but it also poses major problems. The children can too easily access films ... which are not educational," he said.

Zermatten also highlighted some problems concerning poverty and development in many countries.

"We face many violations, and there are many problems to be solved for the protection of children," he said.

Source: Xinhua
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