Brussels, 20 November 2009 - Today is the day that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child moves out of its teenage years and turns 20. For two decades now, the Convention has provided a legal framework within which governments around the world can address the rights of children. Symbolically, it was signed on 20 November – a full 30 years after the signing of the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959.
Today is therefore a double celebration – at least in juridical terms. And yet, despite these two international instruments, signed by almost every nation on Earth, millions of children each year are still starving, forced to fight in wars they barely understand, sold on by those who are meant to protect them to be used as slaves in unimaginably cruel ways. This is not tolerable any longer. If the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Declaration of the Rights of the Child are to mean anything, it is up to each and every one of us to take action.
In order to ensure that the rights of children are respected appropriately in Europe, Caritas Europa is currently preparing a paper on child poverty that will coincide with the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion 2010. The paper will focus on the steps that governments and wider society can take in order to protect children.
Millions of children, like this shoe-polisher boy in Bolivia, are living under very difficult conditions
Caritas Europa emphasises that poverty is not just a matter of income – important as a fair income is. Child poverty is equally a matter of depriving children of educational opportunities, emotional and social avenues for personal development and healthcare – all of which will have an impact on a child’s life chances and all of which can prevent the intergenerational transmission of poverty if appropriately delivered and administered.
The paper will not only discuss governmental policy however. It will also focus on individual contributions that anybody can make to improve the quality of life in their community. Even little things, like enabling a deprived family to take a holiday – an activity that many of us take for granted – can change perspectives and revitalise families suffering from the stress of daily difficulties.
With its contributions, Caritas Europa aims to nourish the debate on how to provide for children’s needs. If enough people get involved in this debate and are motivated to take steps to prevent and combat child poverty, it is our hope that on the future Convention’s anniversaries, we will be able to truly celebrate what has been achieved, rather than worry about what has been left undone.
For more information, please contact:
Advocacy and Communication Officer
Tel: +32 (0)2 235 03 94