Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Viewpoint on UNCRC
The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammerberg (at left) has published a new ‘viewpoint’ on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In it, the Commissioner argues that systematic and concrete actions are required if the rights of the child are to be realised.
The Commissioner begins by noting that a rights-based approach to children’s issues is incompatible with a political mindset which trivialises children’s concerns and refuses to acknowledge them as rights-bearing subjects:
Although children make up a large section of the population and constitute the future of society (in more ways than one), their concerns are seldom given top priority in politics. Ministers responsible for children’s affairs tend to be junior and stand outside the inner circle of power. When political issues are divided into “soft” and “hard”, those relating to children are dealt with as “soft-soft”. Often these issues are seen as non-political and sometimes simply trivial. The image of politicians on the campaign trail kissing babies has become symbolic of this trivialisation.
Gestures are not enough to meet the requirements of the Convention – what is needed is serious political discussion and real change. Improvement in the status of and conditions for children is of course the very purpose of the Convention. With ratification, a state has committed itself to respect the principles and provisions of the Convention and to transform them into reality for all children.
One possible reason for the delay in implementing the Convention could be the decision-makers’ lack of understanding or acceptance of the obligations arising from it. They may not always have made the distinction between charity and a rights-based approach.
Children in need, just like persons with disabilities, have long been the favourite “objects” of charity. They have been given support, not as a matter of right, but because people have felt pity for them. This is one of the attitudes that the Convention challenges.
You can read the rest of this excellent ‘viewpoint’ in full here