EU Opportunity To Boost Children’s Rights – UN
AN EXPANDED EUROPEAN UNION AFFORDS OPPORTUNITY TO BOOST CHILDREN’S RIGHTS – UN
New York, May 13 2004 12:00PM
“The world has become a scary place for children” with millions of them falling prey to trafficking, exploitation and abuse, and the expansion of the European Union (EU) offers an opportunity to enhance their rights, the head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said today.
“In Europe and Central Asia, millions of children are falling through the cracks to be trafficked and traded, exploited and abused, excluded and alienated in ways that affront the intelligence, shame the conscience and break the heart,” UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy told government ministers from across Europe and Central Asia.
“We know how to prevent this from happening, so what exactly is holding us back?” she asked the representatives from more than 50 countries and delegations of young people, donors and civil society gathered in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, for the Second Intergovernmental Conference on Making Europe and Central Asia Fit for Children.
“EU expansion has generated a new sense of optimism and opened minds across the whole of this region to issues of human rights, an opportunity we should seize to deliver on child rights obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,” Ms. Bellamy added.
Hosted by the governments of Bosnia and Herzegovina and of Germany, the three-day conference will focus on five areas for priority action: investing in children; children moving across borders; violence against children; social exclusion and cities fit for children.
The conference will also identify and prioritize measures for action at country level to end child trafficking and illegal adoptions, violence in the home, the school and the community, and exclusion from participation in the mainstream of life.
“We must create a protective environment for and with children,” Ms. Bellamy said. “We must ensure that the cracks that exist now are plugged with sound, inclusive policies and legislation; with a social service system that is accessible and friendly to all children irrespective of gender, ethnicity, religion or culture; and with a supportive family and community environment.
“It is not beyond our means or reach, for example, to make this the first region to eliminate child poverty,” she added. “What we need right now is more political will and leadership.”