Kids Can Make a Difference
Life is getting better for kids in many places. There is now a United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child that has been ratified by almost every country in the world. That is a Bill of Rights for kids that can help to guarantee that every child has the right to survival, protection, and development. Survival Rights mean that we have rights to good health care, good food, clean water, housing, being safe from abuse, neglect and special protection in times of war.
Kids-and grownups are beginning to speak up about child labor and prostitution, about the treatment of kids and families in times of war, about guns and weapons and beginning to get rid of them.
There is still a lot more to do!!
Kids in the U.S. have to work to see that the U.S. government ratifies the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Kids from all around the world have to see that their government keeps the promises they have made to kids when they ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
We have to see that all kids are safe in the world. That means we need to see that the grownup leaders of the world really mean it when they say they will help kids who are poor or sick or going to bad schools or to no schools at all. We need to see that kids can feel safe from wars and from violence of all kinds in our homes, our schools and our streets. Kids are still recruited to be child soldiers. They are still hurt and killed by bullets and by landmines. They are still losing their moms and dads and brothers and sisters and grandparents because people and countries are still stupid enough to be thinking that wars and fighting solves anything. But there are treaties and laws that countries have signed saying that citizens (kids and their families) should be protected in times of war. And now countries have come together to create an International Court so that countries will begin to make laws and treaties more easily. A woman, Graca Machel of Mozambique, led a study on children and war for the United Nations. She and all the other people working with her, including lots of kids, persuaded the grown up leaders of the world to make the following things happen:
Implement International Standards
International human rights and humanitarian standards relating to children in situations of armed conflict must be widely disseminated and vigorously enforced. Broad awareness of the rights of the child must be promoted and education and training activities developed.
Monitor and Report Violations of Childs Rights
Children in armed conflict must be treated as a distinct and priority concern in all human rights, humanitarian and development activities. Effective mechanisms for monitoring and reporting violations of children's rights must be established.
Promote Physical and Pyschological Recovery and Social Reintegration
To ensure respect for children's fundamental rights, measures to promote their health, nutrition, pyschosocial well-being and education must be the pillars of all humanitarian assistance policy and programs.
Increase Commitment for Refugee and Internally Displaced Children
The care and protection of refugee and internally displaced children requires increased international commitment and cooperation, particularly in relation to family reunification, the equitable delivery of humanitarian assistance and children's right to education. In each conflict situation, UNICEF is urged to provide leadership to ensure assistance and protection of internally displaced children.
Demobilize Child Soldiers
Governments and all armed groups should prevent the recruitment of children under the age of 18, immediately demobilize all children in armed forces, and incorporate their needs into peacekeeping, peace agreements and demobilization programmes.
End the Scourge of Landmines
States are urged to support a comprehensive international treaty to ban, as soon as possible, on the use, production, trade, and stockpiling of anti-personnel mines. An integrated programme of humanitarian mine clearance, gender and age of apporpriate mine awareness and child centered rehabilitation should be accelerated.
Prevent Gender-based Violence and Sexual Exploitation
Violations of the rights of girls and women in armed conflicts, including murder, rape, sexual exploitation and forced pregnancy, must be prosecuted, and appropriate legal and rehabilitative remedies made available.
Protect Children from Sanctions
Whenever sanctions are imposed, their impact on children should be assessed and monitored. Humanitarian exemptions should be child-focused and formulated with clear application guidelines.
Prevent Problems from Happening
The international community must shatter the political inertia that allows armed conflicts to escalate. Priority must be given to promoting sustainable and equitable patterns of human development and measures such as early warning, preventive diplomacy and education for peace. The protection of children and women must be central to all actions to promote peace, implement peace agreements and resolve conflicts.
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