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Convention on the rights of the child: Myth or reality

I was one of the speakers at a meeting on the Practical Application of the Convention of the Rights of the Child to advance Child and Adolescent health held at the World Health Organisation headquarters in Geneva.

The meeting was attended by experts on health, human rights, law, academia and researchers from the World Health Organization, UNICEF, World Vision, Save the Children, United Nations Committee on the Right of Child and some academic institutions. I talked about the historical roots of the CRC in the first declaration of the rights of children which was produced by the founder of Save the Children, Eglantyne Jebb.

The CRC outlines the right to survival and health and obliges member states to do whatever they can to protect children from dying. Despite its existence, 9 million children under the age of five are dying each year.

We know the life chances of children are heavily influenced by policy choices made by governments to make health and nutrition services available, accessible, acceptable and of a good quality to children when they are growing up.

The consultation deliberated on how to use a rights-based approach in planning and programming, implementing, monitoring and evaluating progress in realizing the rights of the children.

A rights-based approach is not considered popular with politicians and donor agencies because it does not show quantative impact in the very short term. The consultation will come up with concrete recommendations as to how to make the rights-based approach more popular and widely implemented and well understood by people at all levels and by all sections of society.

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