By: Cecília Pires
TODAY (JUNE 1), the world is celebrating International Children’s Day. This day was first celebrated in 1956, after a proposal from the International Democratic Federation of Women to the United Nations (UN) Assembly.
Following the Second World War, living conditions all over Europe pushed many children to an unimaginable reality of premature labour force. Money was difficult to obtain and parents had to remove their children from school and put them to work, constraining their natural right to childhood.
Member States of the United Nations accepted the women’s federation’s proposal and recognised that “children need special protection”, creating International Children’s Day to be celebrated on the first day of June, every year since the fifties.
In 1989, after realising that many countries were still not respecting the special status a child must have, the UN declared a special convention to better protect them. This convention is based on the 10 principals of the Children’s Rights Declaration, signed in November of 1959, and recognises that a “child, because of its lack of physical and intellectual maturity, needs special protection and care”.
The United Nations International Child Education Fund (UNICEF), resulting from this convention, is now one of the main organisations representing the UN’s efforts to protect and support children’s development around the world, especially in the less developed countries.
The dark side
Armed conflicts in many countries around the world are putting many children in risk situations. After almost 50 years of diplomatic and operational struggle to defend and protect our children from the impact of war, the United Nations’ monitoring systems continue reporting serious violations of their Rights Declaration.
“Killing or maiming of children”, “recruitment or use of child soldiers”, “attacks against schools or hospitals”, “denial of humanitarian access for children”, “abduction of children” and “rape and other grave sexual abuse of children” are the six prime violations denounced in the UN reports.
Kids behind bars
An alarming number of children in many parts of the world are being held in detention without sufficient cause, announced the United Nations on its website. According to the UN’s top “10 stories the world should hear more about”, UNICEF estimates indicate that around one million children worldwide, under the age of 18, are living in detention as a result of being in conflict with the law. The majority of these children are “from deprived communities” and are being held for minor offences such as “vagrancy, truancy, begging or alcohol use”.
If you would like to read more about this subject, click on the UNICEF website link located on the right
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