Gambia: YPM to Celebrate 23rd Anniversary of the CRC Today

The Young People in the Media (YPM) will today, November 20th 2012, celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in The Gambia. As part of preparations lined up to mark the day, YPM-The Gambia issued a press release.

Below is the full text of the release:

A historic event took place on 20 November 1989 when world leaders adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in the UN General Assembly. Since its inception more than 23 years ago, the CRC has become the most-widely ratified human rights treaty in history representing a major milestone in the historic effort to achieve a world fit for children. As a binding treaty of international law, it codifies principles that Member States of the United Nations agreed to be universal - for all children, in all countries and cultures, at all times and without exception, simply through the fact of their being born into the human family.

This is a testament to the common understanding among countries and communities that children have the right to survive and develop; to be protected from violence, abuse and exploitation; and for their right to participate in their communities. The treaty has inspired changes in laws to better protect children, altered the way international organisations see their work for children, and supported an agenda to better protect children in situations of armed conflict.

According to the chairperson of the Board of Directors of YPM, Fatou Camara, the 23rd anniversary of the CRC reminds us all, of what we have left to do. The Convention demands a revolution that places children at the heart of human development - not only because this offers a strong return on our investment (although it does) nor because the vulnerability of childhood calls upon our compassion, but rather for a more fundamental reason.

She opined that whilst great progress has been made on child rights protection and promotion agenda in the past 23 years, much work still remains to be done. Over the years, The Gambia under the dynamic and visionary leadership of President Jammeh has done a lot in child rights protection and promotion agenda. This has been manifested in the increase level of young people's active participation in decision making process concerning their wellbeing, the Children Act 2005, has also paved the way for children and young people to be better protected and participate actively in decision making process.

The seasoned veteran national newscaster added that the prosperity of our society tomorrow depends to a considerable degree on the situation of our children today. She said: "Children of poor families are amongst the hardest hit in times of economic crisis, and the lack of social protection measures will have lifelong consequences on them, and for the societies in which they live."

The YPM Board chairperson maintained that now is the time to amplify the voices of the vulnerable and ensure that the world follows up on its pledges. "With the right investments and concrete action, we can build upon the gains, fulfil our commitments, and ensure that every man, woman and child has the opportunity to make the most of their potential," she said.

Adama Lee Bah, president of YPM said that the wide acceptance of the CRC can give the impression that it is neither challenging nor new. Yet the very idea that children are the holders of rights is far from universally recognised. Too many children are considered to be the property of adults, and are subjected to various forms of abuse and exploitation.

Abdou Jatta, UNICEF/ Speak Africa Youth spokesperson for The Gambia, stressed on the need and recognition that during the past two decades the CRC has transformed the view and the treatment of children in many countries throughout the world, as articulated in Article 12 of the UNCRC. As we observe the 23rd anniversary of the Child Rights Convention, Jatta said that "like all powerful ideas, the CRC reflects a demand for deep and profound changes in the way the world treats its children.

It's clear that there are alarming numbers of children who die of preventable causes daily throughout the world, who do not attend school or attend a school that cannot offer them a decent education, who are left abandoned heading households, or who are subjected to violence, exploitation and abuse against which they are unable to protect themselves".

We cannot claim that the Convention has achieved what needs to be achieved. Rather, it has provided all of us with an essential foundation to play our part in changing what needs to be changed.

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