By May Joy Namulembwa
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), UN’s most ratified Treaty turned 30 on November 20, 2019. Although different countries mark Children’s Day on different days, November 20 is a global observance set by the United Nations to celebrate children by raising awareness on issues they face and showing support for the same.
Why is the Convention important?
The Convention is a vital international legal agreement that binds state parties to protect children’s political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights everywhere regardless of their gender, race, abilities and religion. As of now, all countries in the world have ratified the Convention except the United States of America.
Not only does the CRC empower children by stating in the Articles that they have a right to be heard, but also views children as distinct individuals who [may] have different opinions and needs from their parents and guardians. Further, the Treaty is inclusive since it addresses children with disability as well as those in marginalized populations.
Key Components of the Convention
The UNCRC consists of fifty-four articles that are guided by four main principles requiring the government to ensure all children can access their rights. These principles include:
- Equality among all children since they have the same rights.
- Right to basic needs among all children.
- Right to protection from violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect.
- Right to express their opinions and be listened to.
The Convention’s Achievements
Other than a worldwide commitment, many governments have put in place and continue to develop policies that are in favour of children so they can be able to access education, healthcare, nutrition, among other rights that ensure they develop into their full potential. More and more investments are made towards children’s issues and systems strengthened to ensure children access their rights.
Additionally, Civil Society Organisations have also formed a movement in the area of child protection and children are now able to articulate their issues and participate in issues that involve them in society.
On Wednesday, November 20, 2019, Kenya joined the rest of the world to commemorate CRC turning 30, an event that coincided with World Children’s Day. The celebrations had children representatives from all of Kenya’s 47 counties gather at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).
The government of Kenya through the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection committed to ensuring child rights issues are at the forefront.“Kenyan government commits to promotion, protection and survival of the child to enhance their well-being,” affirmed Amb. Ukur Yatani, Labour Cabinet Secretary. It is also during the event that Amb. Yatani launched the Status Report on Children in the Justice System in Kenya. The report was prepared by the National Council on Administration of Justice (NCAJ ) special task force on children chaired by Justice Martha Koome.
“Sexual violence against children, especially girls, some even below the age of six years, remains disturbingly high, persistent and pervasive despite the stiff penalties provided by law,” said Justice Martha Koome during her address. The report reveals that out of 6 institutions of justice, only one is allocated a budget to deal with children’s cases. It recommends that institutions of justice need adequate budgetary allocations and fast-tracking of children’s cases.
Child guest, Moses Kibet from West Pokot spoke on behalf of all children by calling upon the government of Kenya to fully implement article 53 of the constitution, implement a friendly child justice system, work with religious and cultural leaders in advancement and protection of children’s rights at grassroots levels, ensure that disabled children are included, among other rights.
In a symbolic fight for their rights and commitment to continue airing their views, children signed a banner after the event by writing their name and where they are from.