On behalf of IFCO, I join with everyone around the world to wish all children a happy World Children’s Day. Today is especially significant as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
This momentous Convention has contributed enormously to the wellbeing of children across the world. There have been many gains for children over the last thirty years. According to UNICEF there has been more than 50% reduction of deaths of children under 5 since 1989, the proportion of children undernourished has almost halved since 1990 and approx. 2.6 billion more people have cleaner drinking water today than in 1990. However, there is undoubtedly much more to be done to honour the Convention and to continue to improve the lives of children around the world. There are children living in unacceptable poverty, with parents struggling to feed and care for their children. There are still child soldiers, children exploited for their labour, children without basic education and health services, children who cannot read or write, children in refugee camps and detention centres, children who are sexually exploited, children caught up in wars not of their making, and children in many parts of the world suffering from extreme levels of drought and flooding because of the climate crisis.
We also have not honoured children who need care as a result of family crisis where it is estimated that approximately 2.76 million children are in residential care around the world. Furthermore, according to Nicole Petrowski and colleagues (2017), it is also estimated that there are 1.6 million children in foster care (although there is insufficient information for four of the eight regions in the world to provide complete figures). No region in the world can fully provide basic information on the number of children in these two forms of care. This lack of information is a challenge for all who want to improve care for children and prohibits progress in meeting children’s fundamental right to appropriate care.
IFCO calls on governments across the world to fully meet their commitments to the rights of children so that they can grow up within a family, which according to the UNCRC is “the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members, particularly children, and should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community”. Where families of origin are unable to provide necessary care for children, IFCO believes that foster and kinship care provide the best alternative for the wellbeing of children.
On this special day IFCO salutes the strides children and young people have made globally in getting their voices heard in recent years, a key principle of the UNCRC. The example and leadership of Greta Thunberg on the climate crisis, the young founders of the March for Our Lives organisation in the United States which advocates for gun control, and 12 year old aboriginal child Dujuan from Australia who recently addressed the UN Human Rights Council calling for an increase in the age of criminal responsibility, demonstrate the power of youth to do good in the face of enormous adversity. We owe it to our children and young people to support their vision for a better society by listening to them, learning from them and working alongside them to improve not only their lives but the lives of all of us.
20th November 2019
[Reference: Nicole Petrowski, Claudia Cappa & Peter Gross (2017) ‘Estimating the number of children in formal alternative care: challenges and results’, Child Abuse & Neglect, 70: 388-398.]