UN children's agency says one billion children around the world are
still deprived of food, shelter, clean water and healthcare 20 years
after the adoption of a treaty guaranteeing children's rights.
Hundreds of millions more children are constantly threatened by
violence, Unicef said in a report released on Thursday assessing the
situation two decades after the UN adopted the Convention of the Rights
of the Child on November 20 1989.
treaty has since been ratified by all countries except the US and
Somalia, and more than 70 countries have used the treaty to incorporate
children's rights into their national laws.
While saying Unicef had chalked up a "remarkable achievement" in
recording a sharp decline in child deaths and getting an increasing
number of children to attend primary school, Ann Veneman, the agency's
executive director, urged the world to do more.
first decade of the 21st century comes to a close, the convention
stands at a pivotal moment," she told a news conference launching the
report at the UN headquarters in New York on Thursday.
"Its relevance remains timeless. The challenge for the next 20
years is to build on the progress achieved, working together to reach
those children who are still being denied their rights to survival,
development, protection and participation."
Veneman said it was unacceptable that more than 24,000 children
under the age of five die every day from preventable causes such as
pneumonia, malaria, measles and malnutrition.
About 200 million children are chronically malnourished, more than
140 million are forced to work, and millions of girls and boys of all
ages are subjected to sexual violence, the report says.
It also estimates that up to 1.5 billion children experience violence annually.
Veneman said there was a new focus on safeguarding the young "from
violence, abuse, discrimination and exploitation", adding that children
in Africa and Asia suffered the most.
"More than nine out of 10 children who are not attending school, who
are malnourished, and who die before the age of five live in these two
continents," she said.
"Exploitation of children is not simply a breach of an international treaty," she said.
"It's pain. It's suffering and confusion and damage. It's hope lost and hope betrayed."