NCC marks 23 years of adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child-Reason to hope for a world fit for children


21-November-2012

Mrs Mondon addressing guests at the ceremony

The occasion, marked by singing, an exhibition and some thought-provoking speeches, was attended by Education Minister MacSuzy Mondon, Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Paul Adam, the Ambassador for Children and Women Affairs Erna Athanasius, Bishop French Chang Him – also a member of the NCC committee, British high commissioner Linda Skoll and other dignitaries.

Master of ceremony Shamad Japha of Belonie secondary school welcomed those present and said their support makes children even more determined to be staunch advocates and defenders of children’s rights. 

‘Count and Read’ day care centre based at Union Vale kicked off the activities with a song, the message of which was loud and clear about what children need – Love.

Students with hearing disability from Au Cap had a composition of their own for the occasion – Nou drwa Lavi.

Minister Mondon said 23 years ago the idea of children’s rights was much less well-known and most governments probably thought that while children should be taken good care of and should not be abused, this did not mean that they had human rights in the same way as adults.

The assumption tended to be that their parents or guardians were the ones who could, and should exercise rights in the name of the child.

Ms Mondon said this was understandable in the case of a two-year old, but as children grow older, we have to realise that they are quite capable of expressing their own views, feeling a sense of injustice when they are mistreated and having different ideas from adults as to what might be best for them.

She noted that many adults and governments are only slowly coming to terms with the revolution in thinking and acknowledging that children do indeed have their own human rights. This is the great achievement of the 1989 Convention of the Rights of the Child, which every country in the world, except three, has officially promised to respect and implement.

“But, I must also add that there are still many millions of children whose basic rights are not respected at all, whether because they are not given enough food to eat, they are not educated at all (often because they are girls), they must work for very long hours in hazardous conditions, they are beaten or sexually abused, they are forced to be soldiers, and so on.”

Ms Mondon said in Seychelles, we are not plagued by many of these problems and we perform well on the Millennium Development Goals targets. Much has been achieved for children, but much more needs to be done.

Guests at the ceremony

She added that Seychelles presented its state party report to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in September 2011 and there are 76 recommendations that need to be addressed.

According to her, one of the biggest challenges remains the traditional mindset about corporal punishment, which is compounded when many adults, some in leadership positions, still believe in and advocate for “spare the rod, spoil the child”.

Sexual abuse of our children, whether it stems from past incestuous practices, is also too rampant and there should be no excuse for any perpetrator of violence of any sort against our children.

Ms Mondon noted that the NCC is a statutory body with legal powers. In implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it will continue to advocate and protect the interests of children and promote their well-being. It will initiate reforms in legislation, policies and practices pertaining to children.

She noted that the NCC is there to advise government on all matters relating to children and families. The NCC is also well-recognised internationally and locally known to many as the trade union for children. It will persevere relentlessly in making the population aware that children are right-holders and should be treated with due respect and dignity.

Ms Mondon concluded by saying: “Let us pledge to build a brighter world for the future of our children. Let us give them reason to hope. It has remained a dream for 23 years. Let this be the right year to make it right for our children.”

One of the performances by children

Marius Payet said that sadly 23 years after the Convention on the Rights of the Child came into force, children around the world are still seriously having their basic rights denied. 

He noted that only Monday night, the organisation ‘Save the Children’ raised concern about 200,000 children in Syria who are without shelter in the bitter cold.

He also noted the trauma of children in the Gaza Strip and Israel, adding that the UN secretary- general’s wife, Ban Soon-Taek was supposed to be in Seychelles for the occasion, but the conflicts in the Middle East have taken precedence.

Payet said luckily our leaders in Seychelles are far more aware in respecting the rights of children. But challenges still remain.

He urged everyone to stop saying that children’s rights are the cause for the disciplinary problems, social decadence and other problems that haunt our society. “Drugs? Who pushes them unto us?

Prostitution? Who are the ones who rape our childhood? Do we have to carry the blame for these problems?”

Payet urged those present to make a clear statement and stand by the fact that violence is no more permissible against children, than it is against adults.

He added that corporal punishment should be banned in schools, homes and institutions and the principle of zero-tolerance respected.

“Generations do not stand against one another. We stand together. You need guidance from us, who belong to the future. Please, make decisions for us, with us.”

He said that national laws should be reviewed so that they are in line with the convention and respect human rights standards.

Viewing the exhibition

Payet said children believe that the government has the political will to respect the dignity of children, adding what is needed now is the strategy, planning, implementation and monitoring to ensure that all programmes are influenced by a child rights approach.
“Do remember to include us in the process,” he said.

Everybody present joined the children’s choir sing the NCC theme song ‘The greatest gift of all’.

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