ASEAN, UNICEF join forces to improve lives of all children
BANGKOK, 1 November 2019 – ASEAN and UNICEF launched in Bangkok today a joint publication entitled “Children in ASEAN: 30 Years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child” that features achievements and actions for children’s rights in the region. The report was released during the ASEAN CRC30 commemorative event co-hosted by Thailand’s Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS) and UNICEF.
At the event, ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Ministers and senior officials, civil society organizations, development partners and children representatives themselves discussed progress in implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) as well as emerging challenges and new opportunities to realise child rights.
The report looks at what the next 30 years might look like for children in ASEAN. It highlights 10 actionable recommendations which include reinforcing regional systems and cross-border collaboration; ensuring no child is left behind; strengthening laws and policies; increasing public finance and social investment; as well as strengthening data collection, analysis and use.
Other suggestions are to ensure equal access to quality services; leverage innovation and technology; promote social and behaviour change; accelerate child-sensitive climate actions; and achieve gender equality.
Minister of MSDHS Chuti Krairiksh said, “today ASEAN celebrates an important anniversary — the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is an occasion for ASEAN Member States to reflect on implementation gaps and to undertake additional measures to ensure that the rights of children are fully realised.” He added, “Thailand recognises children as ‘agent of change’, we strongly commit to put children first, to invest in children who will carry future forward, to fulfil the right of every child. Let’s make child-friendly ASEAN happen.”
On his part, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, H.E. Kung Phoak reiterated, “ASEAN is committed to the promotion and the protection of the rights of children. We have been working concertedly to create an enabling environment in which our children can thrive and be empowered and to ensure that their voices are heard, and their participation is integral to all efforts affecting their lives.”
Thirty years ago, world leaders, including all ASEAN Member States, made a historic commitment to the world’s children by adopting the CRC. By 1995, all ASEAN Member States had ratified the CRC and since then ASEAN has been a leading voice and valuable partner in supporting its implementation.
Progress has been made towards the achievement of children’s rights in all Member States since the 1990’s. Specifically, poverty was halved with dramatic increases in life expectancy. Women and children in ASEAN have better access to health care and children in particular enjoy better educational services and access to internet as well as social media, which results in greater opportunities and a better prospect for the future. In addition, Member States have made significant progress in protecting children from violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect, through increased investments in state institutions, interventions and services.
UNICEF Regional Director for East Asia and Pacific Karin Hulshof highlighted that “children in ASEAN Member States are better off now than 30 years ago. But there is unfinished business and also new challenges like climate change that impact on the fulfilment of child rights in the region. The CRC remains the most powerful instrument to guide policy and interventions on both the new and stubborn challenges that children are facing.” She added, “childhood is changing. Our actions need to evolve and adapt, so that together with our partners in ASEAN we can improve the lives of each and every child, today, tomorrow and thirty years from now.”
Since the adoption of the CRC, the population in ASEAN living in urban areas has increased by more than 60%, with almost half of the region living in urban areas. Children are increasingly affected by the climate crisis, exacerbating existing vulnerabilities and disparities. Voluntary or forced migration has also had a significant impact on children and their families. Across ASEAN, children’s access to internet creates opportunities and also raises important protection concerns about online safety for children, including exploitation and abuse as well as breaches of privacy.
ASEAN is a dynamic region where over 30% of its 642 million citizens are under the age of 34. By implementing the publication’s recommendations, leaders are investing in their most precious resource – each and every child in ASEAN.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established on 8 August 1967. The Member States of the Association are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. Among others, ASEAN aims to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavours in the spirit of equality and partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian nations. For more about ASEAN’s work, visit: https://asean.org/
Regional Communication Specialist
UNICEF East Asia and the Pacific
Tel: +66 (0)23569407