UNITED NATIONS, Nov 22 (APP):Children were both seen and heard in the United Nations General Assembly on the World Children’s Day, during a celebration to commemorate 30 years since the adoption of a milestone treaty that protects their rights.
Pakistan was represented by Alyana Akram, daughter of Ambassador Munir Akram, at the ceremony that was among numerous events this year taking stock of progress achieved under the landmark Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“I feel extremely proud that my country, Pakistan, was one of the original signatories of the Convention on the Rights of the Child”, Alyana Akram, the Pakistani youth delegate, told the large and distinguished gathering in the iconic hall of the 193-member Assembly.
Pakistan, she said, also co-facilitated the adoption of the modalities resolution for the commemoration of this 30th anniversary of the Convention.
“I am confident that Pakistan will continue to fully promote and protect the rights of all children at home and abroad,” Alyana Akram added.
In her remarks, she noted that considerable progress has been made over the last 30 years, including more children going to school, more widely available safe and effective vaccines, improved sanitation standards and a 60 per cent drop in infant mortality across the globe.
But significant challenges remain, the Pakistani youth delegate said, with 1 billion children still living in poverty, suffering from hunger and malnutrition that stunts their physical and mental growth as well as potential. Food was insufficient, and often polluted by chemicals. Education was not yet universal; nor were opportunities equal. There was growing dangers of exposure to infectious diseases against the backdrop of climate change.
“Technology has improved our lives – better nutrition, education, access to knowledge and information”, she said, adding that it had also created problems as the internet can be a dangerous place for children. “The speed of life could rob us of our youth.”
Addressing such challenges, Alyana Akram said, were essential for full realization of 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and protection of the rights of all children.
On the Convention’s anniversary, she said the world must look ahead to the next 30 years.
The international community must also listen to young voices on the issues of greatest concern and begin working on twenty-first century solutions to twenty-first century problems, Alyana Akram added.
Earlier, well-known actress Millie Bobby Brown, star of the hit Netflix series ‘Stranger Things’ and the youngest-ever Goodwill Ambassador with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said, “In world capitals and buildings like this, adults talk about children’s rights. But today, young people don’t want to be talked about. We want to do the talking”.
Although important markers have been achieved since its adoption, including the fact that more children are now in school, millions of the world’s poorest children are still being left behind, she said.
Though no longer a child, football legend David Beckham recalled his youth in the East End of London, where family, teachers and later, coaches, supported his dream of becoming a soccer player.
As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2005, Beckham has seen how scores of children worldwide have not been as fortunate.
“Children hungry and sick. Children living through wars. Children who lost their parents in earthquakes and floods. Girls and boys with different stories and backgrounds from my own, but like all children they have one thing in common: they have ambitions and they have dreams for a better future,” he told the gathering.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said that the anniversary of the child rights convention provides an opportunity for adults and children to work together to build that brighter future.
And while three decades of technological developments have empowered children, Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, reported in Geneva, how the Internet has been used to bully, intimidate and exploit children.
“We need to take action to protect children from exploitation and harm”, she said. “We need action to ensure that children are empowered to raise their voices – and to protect from physical attacks and other forms of abuse the children who stand up to defend human rights and the rights of the child.”
Henrietta Fore, the head of UNICEF, said at the event in New York that the “best pathway to a better, more sustainable future for all is to invest in all children today. As we look ahead to the next 30 years of progress, let’s recommit to children’s rights. And let’s make these rights real in programmes, policies and services in every community, in every country, around the world.”