Every child has every right
Adopted 30 years ago today by the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has been the most widely ratified international treaty on human rights. Today also marks 60 years since the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.
The convention and the declaration have helped improve the plight of the world’s children in the past decades. In the Philippines, laws have been passed to protect children from domestic violence as well as various forms of exploitation and abuse. There is universal free education from kindergarten to the tertiary level, ensuring that even the poorest children will have formal education. Improvements in maternal and infant health care have cut child mortality and debilitation from many illnesses.
Similar achievements for the welfare of children have been recorded around the world in the past six years. As in many other countries, however, there is still much room for improvement in promoting the welfare of children.
In the Philippines, despite several landmark laws and stringent penalties, children continue to suffer from domestic violence and neglect as well as sexual exploitation, thanks to weak enforcement of laws. Cyberspace has been a boon for purveyors of child porn. Often out of necessity, child labor remains pervasive among the very poor. The phenomenon of parents working overseas, with the consequent weakness of adult supervision, is also taking its toll on their children.
In public health care, a recent scare over vaccines was a serious setback to universal immunization efforts in the Philippines, leading to child deaths due to measles and the emergence of vaccine-derived polio. Despite the availability of universal free education, a drive around Metro Manila and urban centers will show children who are clearly not attending school and are left to beg in the streets.
International efforts have helped improved the plight of children. The challenge in the coming years is to see to it that all children will enjoy the rights that their countries have committed to uphold.