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Protecting the rights of every child

  •  November 21, 2016
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On the 20th of November, the UN and UNESCO mark Universal Children’s Day devoted to promoting international togetherness and welfare of the children around the world.

This day highlights the occasion of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child adoption by the UN General Assembly in 1959 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child thirty years later in 1989. These conventions aim to protect the right to life, health, education, play and family life for children across the globe so that every child has the opportunity to be protected from violence, discrimination and to have their voice heard.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said Universal Children’s Day was "an annual opportunity to recommit ourselves to protecting the rights of every child. These children are the future leaders of their societies. The future engines of their national economies. The future parents and protectors of the next generation. When we protect their rights, we are not only preventing their suffering. We are not only safeguarding their lives. We are protecting our common future.”

Countries and charities around the world recognise Universal Children’s Day is an important event to use dialogue and action together to promote children’s rights and create a safe environment so that every child has a fair start in life. While Google has marked the day with a Doodle in its search engines, UNICEF has launched a short stories week to mark the agency's 70th anniversary and highlight the challenges many of the world's poorest and most disadvantaged children still face. 

  • More than 50 million children had to fleet from their homes due to conflict, poverty and climate change while 250 million children live in conflict-torn countries.
  • According to UNICEF, there are 153 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 who are forced into child labour and over 263 million children do not attend school.
  • Access to water and sanitation has a huge impact on the start of a child’s life. More than 2.4 billion people still do not have adequate toilets and more than 660 million still lack access of safe drinking water. As a result nearly six million children under five died from mostly preventable diseases.
  • On a positive note, child death rates have cut by half with 90% of children admitted in primary schools and 2.6 billion people with access to clean water.

Universal Children's Day will also allow the discussion of Children's rights in conjunction to the Sustainable Development Goals. Goals such as poverty reduction, health, education, sanitation and equality are all important not only for sustainable development but also for Children's rights and well-being. 

To get involved, follow the conversation on twitter #ChildrensDay or visit the UN website: http://www.un.org/en/events/childrenday

Photo: UNICEF/Ourfali

"Early childhood experiences often have a profound impact on brain development—affecting learning, health, behaviour, and, ultimately, income. Yet millions of young children today do not reach their full potential because of inadequate nutrition, lack of early stimulation and learning, and exposure to toxic environments. We can’t promise to equalize development outcomes, but we can insist on equalizing opportunity. We must do more to invest in the early years. It is not only morally right, but also vital for countries’ economic futures." - Jim Kim, President, The World Bank

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