Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has urged global leaders to seize every opportunity to limit the threats facing the rights of the child around the world.
Hon. Ayorkor Botchwey made the call in her address during a High-Level Conference to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) under the theme: Protecting the rights of the Child in an ever-changing digital world: threats and opportunities.
The celebration was held on Wednesday, 20th November, 2019 in Brussels, Belgium
According to the Foreign Minister the numerous challenges confronting today’s child should not make global leaders despair, but rather re-ignite their determination to keep the hope, vision and commitment that the world leaders envisaged in the adoption of the Convention in 1989.
“As today’s leaders, policy makers, parents and guardians, we owe our children and posterity the obligation of fully mainstreaming the provisions of the Convention into our national agenda,” she said.
She spoke under the theme: Every Child Has The Right To Dream.
The Minister observed that “we must give every child the right to dream that will help them to develop their full potentials, irrespective of gender, race or faith.”
Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey recounted that three decades ago, Ghana joined hands with the rest of the world to make a solemn commitment to protect and promote the wellbeing and rights of children through the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The world leadership by virtue of the provisions of the Convention, she said, undertook to provide certain rights to children because of their vulnerability.
These, according to her, include rights to dream, grow, play, dignity, thrive and learn.
Almost 30 years since the Convention came into force on 2nd September, 1990, it is acknowledged as the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history.
The Convention has inspired governments to amend legal provisions and policies, commit financial resources in the area of children’s education, health care, and protection from exploitation and violence.
Additionally, the Convention has provided a platform for the voices of children to be heard in their societies.
But despite the gains made in the protection and promotion of the rights of children, the Minister explained that the Convention has not been fully implemented or mainstreamed into national policies and programmes.
Furthermore, she said the provisions of the Conventions are not widely known and understood.
Hon Ayorkor Botchwey lamented “Millions of children across the world continue to be exposed to violations of their rights by way of child marriages, child labour and exposure to hazardous work”
She added that “they continue to be denied adequate health care, education, and nutrition. Children have been victims of armed conflict by being recruited as child soldiers or even forced to share prison cells with adults.”
The current global challenges confronting humanity such as climate change, protracted armed conflicts, global terrorism and insecurity as well as the dark sides of our fast-changing digitalized world have compounded the challenges facing children, she bemoaned.
The Hon. Foreign Minister however, charged stakeholders in the protection and promotion of rights of children, to commit to actions which will ensure that these rights are not violated.
“It must be the aspiration of all, including governments, policy makers, parents, guardians and every adult to join hands in achieving all the seventeen (17) Sustainable Development Goals since each goal affects the rights of the child,” she said.
There was a large representation of children at the commemorative event, some of whom took turns to address the conference.
The children shared personal stories about their struggles and called for the full implementation of the Convention.
That, for them, would ensure that their welfare is held in high esteem so they can live their full potential.
Various speakers called for a concerted effort from global leaders and state actors to provide a safer internet environment for children around the world.
The Guest of Honour for the 2019 event was the Queen of the Kingdom of Belgium and Honorary President of UNICEF-Belgium, Queen Mathilde.
Other dignitaries who attended the conference include the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula Van der Layen.