Africa Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Africa Water, Sanitation Jan -Feb 2014 Vol.10 No1 - Page 17

Children’s Rights In Retrospect 25 Years after Rights Convention, Children Still Need More Protection UNITED NATIONS, Nov 14 2014 By Susan Bissell Edited by Kitty Stapp N ext week marks 25 years since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a historic commitment to children and the most widely accepted human rights treaty in history. The CRC outlines universal rights for all children, including the right to health care, education, protection and the time and space to play. And it changed the way children are viewed, from objects that need care and charity, to human beings, with a distinct set of rights and with their own voices that deserve to be heard. Fresh in my mind right now are deadly bomb attacks on schools in northern Nigeria and Syria, Central American children braving perilous journeys to flee violence, children being recruited to fight in South Sudan and gang rapes in India. My career with UNICEF began the same year the CRC was adopted, and I have seen profound progress in children’s lives. Since 1989 the number of children who die before their fifth birthday has been reduced by nearly half. Pregnant women are far more likely to receive antenatal care and a significantly higher proportion of children now go to school and have clean water to drink. We must celebrate these important achievements. But this anniversary must also be used to critically examine areas of children’s lives that have seen far less progress and acknowledge that millions of children have their fundamental rights violated every day. These crises and events are stunning in their scope and depravity, and in the depth of suffering our children endure. As upsetting as they are, they play out alongside acts of violence against children that happen everywhere and every day. Twenty-five years after the adoption of the CRC, we clearly must do more to protect our children. Our children endure a cacophony of violence too often in silence, and too often under an unspoken assumption that violence against children is to some degree tolerable. Our children endure it in spite of overwhelming scientific evidence of the long-lasting physical, psychological, emotional, and social