Bhutan celebrates 30 years of Child Rights

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Marking the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of Child, which was celebrated on Wednesday, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering signed the voluntary global pledge, renewing the government’s commitment to the full implementation of the Convention.

The signing of the global pledge expresses the government’s renewed commitment to the wellbeing of children of Bhutan. Bhutan was among the first countries to sign the Convention on June 4, 1990 and ratify it on August 1 the same year. The nation marks its 30th Anniversary of the Convention next year.

Lyonchhen said Bhutan had signed the convention without any reservations then and remains committed to the wellbeing of children.

Every year on November 20 – to mark the signing of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – UNICEF celebrates World Children’s Day, an annual day of action for children, by children. It is UNICEF’s biggest day of the year and an occasion to advocate and raise awareness for the most pressing issues facing children worldwide.

This year is extra special for UNICEF.

“We celebrate 30 years of Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history, which has helped to transform children’s lives around the world. The day is also celebrated as the World Day of Action and Prayers for Children,” states the press release from UNICEF Bhutan.

At the celebration on Wednesday in Thimphu, guests and children lit butter lamps and saw the relaunching of the Child Mandala, the vision the guides the efforts of all duty bearers made towards the wellbeing and happiness of children.

The Chief Guest, Education Minister J B Rai said the day celebrates children, the nation’s present, the future and hope. “Bhutan has always placed children at the heart of its development process and so it was among the first countries to ratify the Convention in August 1990,” Lyonpo said. “The government remains committed that the children of Bhutan are cared for and nurtured in all stages of their lives.”

A documentary, 30 years of Child Rights, the Bhutan story was also screened, encapsulating the changes Bhutan and its partners made to the lives of children since the CRC was signed and ratified. Immunisation and introduction of vaccines, improvement of sanitation facilities, empowering women through non-formal education, introducing early childhood care and development programmes, development of Bhutan sign language and the enactment of childcare and protection Act are some of the major achievements the country has made.

National Commission for Women and Children’s Director Kunzang Lhamu said promoting and protecting the rights of children has always been and continues to remain a high priority for Bhutan.

“Recognising that one of the chronic problems in efforts to implement the CRC in an effective manner is the lack of data on the nature and magnitude of the problems children are facing, the government developed the Central Management Information System as an online case management system and a central repository of information on women and children needing care and support,” she said.

Since the Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted 30 years ago, there have been historic gains overall for the world’s children. However, many of the poorest children are yet to feel the impact, according to The Convention on the Rights of the Child at a Crossroads, a new UNICEF report released globally on Wednesday.

The report looks at the undeniable achievements of the past three decades, proof that where there is political will and determination, children’s lives improve.  To accelerate progress in advancing child rights, and to address stagnation and backsliding in some of these rights, the report calls for more data and evidence; scaling up proven solutions and interventions; expanding resources; involving young people in co-creating solutions; and applying the principles of equity and gender equality in programming.

At the celebration, UNICEF Representative Dr Will Parks emphasised that children themselves are agents of change.

“Young people are speaking out for their right to a meaningful education, demanding an end to discrimination, marching against violence in schools, striking for action on climate change, campaigning for digital reform and calling on leaders to protect their future.”

Monuments have been lit up in blue as a visually powerful reminder about the need to protect children’s rights. It is to raise awareness and funds for the most pressing issues facing children.

Tshering from Thimphu

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