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Child rights advocates have kicked off more than a month of global
activities leading up to the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the
Rights of the Child. The Convention, which was adopted by the U.N.
General Assembly on November 20, 1989, is the most widely ratified
international human rights treaty. Every country in the world, except
the United States and Somalia, has ratified it.
Convention on the Rights of the Child came into force in 1989, most of
the world thought children should be seen and not heard. Now, 20 years
later, some of their voices are being heard, but their rights continue
to be violated.
"I believe every child has the right to feel
safe, protected from armed conflict, abuse, child labor, trafficking,
exploitation. It is really very simple. No child should have to
suffer at the hands of others. Not one," says UNICEF Goodwill
Ambassador, Hollywood actress, Mia Farrow, who has been fighting for
the rights of children for years. She is one of several Goodwill
Ambassadors who have lent their fame to this video to speak out on
behalf of the millions of children who continue to be cruelly taken
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi
Pillay, expresses her admiration of the Convention. At the same time,
she acknowledges the gaps in the implementation of the rights and
protections enshrined in this document.
With the adoption of the
Convention, she notes the international community unanimously
recognized for the first time in history that children are not simply
the property of their parents or guardians, but are in charge of their
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"However, despite this widespread support for, and
awareness of the rights of the child, there persist severe violations,
including violence, sexual abuse and exploitation, child trafficking
and forced labor," says Pillay. "Also tragically evident are those
multiple and overlapping forms of discrimination that affect girls,
children with disabilities and those from minority and indigenous
populations, street children, children in conflict with the law,
refugee and migrant children."
Pillay says some of the most
pervasive forms of discrimination and exploitation experienced by
children have become more widespread and known since the adoption of
Deputy Executive Director of the U.N. Children's
Fund, Saad Houry, agrees that the reality does not always live up to
the Convention's vision of a world that is made safe for all children.
He says millions of children remain excluded from that dream.
remarkable economic growth in scores of countries over the past 20
years, shocking disparities are also growing, with the poorest children
left further behind," said Houry. "The occasion of the CRC's
(Convention on the Rights of the Child) 20th anniversary is an
opportunity for us all to reflect upon the injustice of such
disparities, and to rededicate our efforts to realizing the rights of
these excluded children, as well as to sustain the gains made to date."
Houry says governments must enact laws that protect the rights
of children. And, children, he says must know and understand their
rights, so they can claim them.