AICHR Philippines organises Dialogue on UN Convention on the Rights of The Child
MANILA, 17 December 2021 – The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) Philippines, in cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (UNICEF-EAPRO), the South-East Asia Regional Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR-SEARO), and Child Rights Coalition Asia (CRC Asia), conducted the Dialogue on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child General Comments on 7-8 December via video conference.
The dialogue served as a platform to continue discussions of the General Comments which were issued by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) as authoritative interpretations of the articles in the Convention and its Optional Protocols.
Ambassador Jaime Victor Ledda, Philippine Representative to AICHR, opened the discussions by urging participants to anticipate possible issues, challenges, and opportunities that may arise in the implementation of the Convention. He recommended that the inputs and recommendations for policy recommendations at the national and regional levels should “go beyond rhetorics and instead be practical and actionable.”
On her part, Hjh Nor Hashimah Hj Mohammed Taib, Representative of Brunei Darussalam to AICHR and the current AICHR Chair, said that “it is my hope that as part of our collective efforts to promote and protect the rights of our children, this dialogue and its outcome will contribute towards building a better world for our children in line with our ASEAN theme this year – We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper.”
At the dialogue, participants discussed the importance of properly interpreting the Convention and coordinating between different stakeholders to avoid duplication of the reporting process. They further noted that existing inequalities have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting also highlighted the landmark shift in perceiving children as rights holders and not just merely subjects, and that the business sector is an important agent and duty bearer in upholding children’s rights.
In her comments, OHCHR South-East Asia Regional Representative Cynthia Veliko stressed that to “build back better” after the pandemic, the “best interest of the child” should be at the heart of all measures and policies. A thriving civic space is also fundamental to ensuring the independent monitoring of measures taken.
Further, the meeting tackled the correlation between public budgeting and the realisation of children’s rights. The participants discussed issues of human capital index, malnutrition, and the quality of education as matters to be addressed in capital development. There were also comprehensive discussions on the public budgeting vis-a-vis children’s rights advocacies and programs, with sharing of best practices in upholding public budgeting principles.
When asked about the dialogue, UNICEF Child Protection Specialist Lucio Valerio expressed that it “confirms the commitment of UNICEF to put the Convention of the Rights of the Child at the very center of all our activities in the firm belief that children are not only our future but most importantly our present as well.”
Meanwhile, Amihan Abueva, Regional Executive Director of CRC Asia, asserted that “now more than ever, in the light of the pandemic, we must ensure that ASEAN Member States take all measures necessary to guarantee the rights of all children. As we respond to the pandemic and move toward recovery, our policies and budgets must take into consideration the impact on children and must be based on the advice from experts, including children themselves.”
The meeting closed with participants acknowledging the need to make the Convention and General Comments responsive to the changing times, noting that AICHR, as the human rights institution in ASEAN, can facilitate the sharing of best practices on the most effective formulation and implementation of child protection programs.
They also recognised the need to intensify engagements and cooperation between AICHR, regional and international organisations, and civil society organisations in protecting the inalienable rights and promoting the best interests of children in ASEAN.