2 December 2014
The 20th November marked 25 years since the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child at the General Assembly in New York.
The occasion was the first time that children were recognised as rights holders in an international treaty. This marked the transition from addressing children's immediate needs through charity alone, to galvanising the move towards advocacy that would bring about systemic change for the realisation of children's rights.
There is much to celebrate since the Convention was adopted in 1989, from declining infant mortality to rising school enrolment. Extreme poverty has been halved -- a major achievement to realizing that Millennium Development Goal -- and most children in the developing world are now attending primary school. But these gains rarely reach children in "high risk" environments, especially countries at war. According to a 2014 USAID study on extreme poverty, the absolute number of people living on less than $1.25 per day in fragile states has remained unchanged since 1990, at 400 million.
Not surprisingly, half of all child deaths under five in poor countries also occur in these same locales. The war in Syria alone is estimated to have wiped out 35 years of development gains since 2011 that are essential to the survival, education and protection of Syrian children. And there are too many regions of the world right now -- including in Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur, South Sudan, and Somalia -- where children as old as fourteen have never known what it means to live without abject fear.
This milestone must serve as an urgent reminder of the millions of children not yet reached. After 25 years of its existence the question can be asked is the world a better place for children?
Click on the link to view the State of the World's Children Report for 2014