World's promise to children marks 25th anniversary

In 1989, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was signed, aiming to protect children around the world

World's promise to children marks 25th anniversary

World Bulletin/News Desk

Thursday marks the 25th anniversary of Universal Children's Day - a world promise to children to promote and guarantee their welfare.

In 1989, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was signed, aiming to protect children around the world from the abuses of - most often - their elders.

The convention is the most widely-ratified international human rights treaty in history. It was approved by all UN member countries except the United States, Somalia and world's youngest country South Sudan. 

Even the isolated North Korea has ratified the convention this past week, Voice of America reported according to the daily Korea Times. 

The international treaty contains 54 articles in total, aiming to fight against issues such as child trafficking, prostitution and pornography, and to affirm basic rights of having access to education.

According to Amnesty International, some have labeled the convention a threat, claiming it "usurps national and state sovereignty, undermines parental authority, would allow and encourage children to sue parents, join gangs, have abortions and dictate how to raise and teach the children." 

But when looking at what has changed so far in 25 years for children, UNICEF reports that "the infant mortality has declined and that school enrollment has risen," throughout the 25 years, 

Indeed, access to health care has generally improved, along of course with the quality of treatment.

For instance, the world mortality rate for children under five years old has decreased 49 percent between 1990 and 2013, UN's official Millennium Development Goal statistics say.

Furthermore, the number of children not going to primary school age decreased by 45 million between 2000 and 2011.

In Turkey's case, the addition of four years of compulsory education, to reach 12 years, was crucial in providing rights like access to education, according to  Turkey's Provincial director of national education in Istanbul, Muammer Yildiz. 

In 2003, less than 88 percent of female Turkish students were going to primary schools, while this number was close to 94 percent for male students.

Turkey's net schooling ratio was 99.57% for the 2013/14 school year, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute.

Worldwide, problems persist regarding education. Indeed, four out of 10 children still fail to meet minimum learning standards, according to UNICEF statistics.

One of the most pressing issues resides in the lack of representation for children, who are evidently too young, not only to act for their rights but to be aware of them. 

Earlier this week, former Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg stressed the need for a mediator, in a conference for children's rights in Istanbul.

He criticized the convention for not being realistic in practice, saying that, without a mediator or ombudsman, to monitor how children are treated and advance their interests, "the rest of the convention seems like a wish list. The rights of the children need to be guaranteed."   

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Kasım 2014, 15:04

Muhammed Öylek