Children are humans.
With this sentence I want to start my assignment, because after having read the paper you will find a deeper meaning in these words. There are many kinds of institutions who work under the umbrella of the United Nations and fight for the right of human. One of these types of institutions is the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund, shortened UNICEF.
I chose to write about the UNICEF, because I would like to give my point of view about this organization. UNICEF is an important organization for the international cooperation between different countries. I think if there weren’t such an organization, children had to suffer even more.
There are a lot of children who get help from UNICEF, but yet there are millions who are still suffering. It is of essential importance that there are such organizations who help the children in difficulties and suffer, especially now in the third world countries.
UNICEF offers help for children with difficult circumstances. In all parts of the world, for example: Kosovo, Zambia, Colombia and Vietnam. UNICEF works in 189 countries and is one of the biggest UN-organizations. They give people food, safety, water, help in illness and education. I admire the work UNICEF is doing, especially for the children who have to suffer.
History of the United Nations and UNICEF
December 11th 1946. The World War II has just been ended and many cities and villages have been destroyed through bombings. On the farms not much was grown and most of the factories didn’t produce, because there was a lot of damage caused by the war. Also the stores were not open so there was not much food. Especially the children had to suffer of all this chaos.
The United Nations was formed shortly after the war to try and create peace. Countries who joined this organization sent their delegations to the Headquarters of UN. They came together to find a way for solutions for different kind of problems. The delegations worried that Europe may not recover of all the damages caused by the war if there could not be done anything about the situation of the children. In this year the delegations decided to set up a fund to help the children in Europe who had suffered from the World War II. This fund was called the UNRRA (United Nations Rehabilitation and Relief Administration). Later the General Assembly changed the name in UNICEF.
The first delegations of the UNICEF started their work by providing blankets, milk and food. Also health care of the children was an important priority for them. Providing milk to the babies was necessary, because the factories in Europe were all closed. Milk became scarce and precious. The delegations took the responsibility to help as much as they could to prevent the hunger those days.
UNICEF worked together with the local authorities, help organizations and farmers to increase the milk production again. UNICEF strove that, when they left an area or country, the local population was able to hold on the milk production.
In the year 1953 UNICEF operated worldwide and became an organization of development cooperation which was directed on helping mother and child. In the sixties the help of UNICEF became more structured and emphasized the family, local community and the society as a whole. Moreover education received more attention.
In the year 1989 the Conventions on the rights of the Child got accepted by almost all the UN-member countries. Only two countries (Somalia and the USA) didn’t sign the treaty. All rights of the child were mentioned in this treaty. These rights refer to all the children of the world, boys & girls, black & white, poor & rich. You can think of the right of growing up in a family, right on protection against child labour and right to having a safe and healthy life. These kinds of rights in the treaty are the basic foundation for UNICEF. Article 45 of the treaty says that the organizations of the United Nations, like UNICEF itself, can advise governments so that there can be an administration where the child gets the first priority.
1990 is the year when the World top for Children was held. The result of this event is an action plan for the children worldwide. In 2002 again such an event took place to see if the participated countries had reached their goals concerning the children. The result is negative. So the 189 countries who joined the World top for Children, accepted a new action plan including more than 20 goals for the next ten years.
Conventions on the rights of the Child
The main target of UNICEF is to see that all children get the care and the education that they need for having a good childhood. I still think that this target hasn’t been obtained completely, because not all countries stick to the rules which have been described in the United Convention of the Rights of the Child.
As I said earlier, almost every UN-member country signed the treaty which refers to rights of children from all nationalities.
The seven most important rights of the child, which have been supported by the UNICEF have not been observed yet by all 189 countries. I will give my opinion on each of these rights.
1. The right of equality
Equality means every child deserves an equal treatment. But still I see a huge gap between the children who grow up in Asia/Africa and children in Europe/America. UNICEF strives that one day the gap will not be so big between these countries. I think that UNICEF has already done a good job by supporting this right and make work of it. I also believe that every child has the right to plan his or her life in their own way to make it interesting and active. A child deserves the same rights as his or her peer, no matter where they live. If we enjoy a good life here in Europe, I think that the people in a poorer country deserve the same. Sometimes I feel I am lucky that I enjoyed my childhood with children from the same age. It is a sad fact that in a lot of countries children still can not enjoy this treatment of being equal to the ones in a rich country. I hope to see difference in this situation. UNICEF is encouraging authorities all over the world to observe this right.
2. The right on special protection
UNICEF not only provides children with physical and mental protection but also with social development. For example, iodine is a chemical nutrient, which every human being needs for his health. When a pregnant woman in Africa with a lack of iodine gives birth to a child, then there is a big chance that the baby will be handicapped. I consider this matter as a huge problem, as this influences the future of a lot of children.
This right can give a special protection to these kind of children. UNICEF helps a lot of countries in Africa by providing salt added with iodine to prevent more handicapped newborns. This will give the children the opportunity to live a life in a proper way. It is a step towards a future with perhaps a job and an enjoyable life.
In all parts of the world, you will find millions of street-children, working children, war children and orphan children. These children need extra protection. UNICEF tries to get them out of the miserable life situation. Street children can go to a house where they can eat, drink, sleep and go to school.
3. The right to have a name and nationality
When a child is born, then he/she should have an identity through a name and nationality. This right guarantees him to grow up in freedom and to develop into an adult. But yet there are children who may not know the name of their parents or even whether their parents are alive or dead. This right, which the UNICEF also supports, gives every child the opportunity to have an identity. I see this right not as an important one, because I cannot place myself in this kind of situation. For children who don’t carry the name of their father or mother, this right is a must. Anyway, I think that every child deserves this right. This right helps the children to be treated equally.
4. Right to have food, home and medical care
Having a home, food and medical care for both mother and child is a way to decrease the death rate among children. Malnourishment is a result of lack of proper food. I think this is a reason why so many children have to suffer. I even feel guilty at times when I think about the children who cannot even have one proper meal in a day, meanwhile I am having food which I like to eat. For example, a child in Sri Lanka has to work from morning till night to earn the money to stay alive.
What if the child gets ill? Then he will not earn anything and will get weaker. He has no money for a normal medical care and no money for food. He has no other choice but to work while he is ill. I cannot imagine myself being so poor and hungry. Here, when I get a flu I refuse to go to college or work. And still I have food, home and medical care. It is sad that the child in Sri Lanka doesn’t have the same choice like I do. UNICEF tries to change this situation. It supports projects which help countries by providing all kind of services, like giving food or a shelter to the orphans.
5. Right to have special care
When a child is psychically or mentally disabled, it should get special care. This right is not only meant for those who have the money for the special care, but also for those who cannot afford this. I think you can have the right of equality when you also keep this right in honour. If a child in a third world country has to suffer from a disability, it is not his fault. So I would say that the right to have special care is an option for them as well.
6. Right to be loved and understood
This right is very important according to me. A child also needs the attention from his or her parents and environment to live a good life. Children in the third world countries are not able to enjoy this right, because there is no time and the possibility for it. Some of them do not even have parents to receive love from. I think a child is very sensitive and does not know what is happening in the world. If there is nobody for the child to protect him or her of all the cruelty in the world, he or she will lose the youth. A child will not be able to enjoy his time and will grow up two times faster than someone of his/her age in the west. That is not acceptable. Everyone should have the right to be loved and understood, especially those who live in the third world countries.
7. Right to have free education
In the developing countries a lot of children cannot go to school. I think this is the most important right for a child. This right guarantees you a future. It is not fair for those who cannot pay school fees. Education must be a number one priority. Children are our future. How can we hope for a good future if the children cannot go to school. I am glad that the right of free education gives the children in the developing countries the right to grow up and to have a job. This way they can also be able to choose to become someone they want to be.
In countries like Pakistan, children have to work at a very young age to earn the money for their parents as an extra income. UNICEF has set up a project where the child has to go to school for three hours after doing his/her job. I think this as a positive solution, because you cannot forbid a child who has to work hard to survive, unless someone with lot of money is supporting the child, which happens seldom. I respect UNICEF’s work, because even if they cannot stop children from working, they help the children to enjoy the right to go to school for a minimum of three hours a day.
Future of UNICEF
UNICEF has existed for over 50 years and achieved a lot. The goals they are planning to achieve in 10 years will be successful if they keep up the work like they are doing now. Even I would like to see a change in the life of those children who cannot enjoy their childhood. I don’t think that I as an individual can help the millions in need, even though I want to. I just gave my opinion on every right a child deserves. If the authorities will work more actively to fight for the right of the children, the future can be changed in a positive way. I hope that there are many people who appreciate and support UNICEF. I know for sure that in the future I will donate money to this organization. I would also like to see that UNICEF will be there in the future as well. There is still a lot of work to be done to change the future of the children all around the world.
As I said earlier that children are human too. And every human being should know his/her own right in this world. I do not think that a child’s life here in a western country has more value than to a child in a third world country. To prevent this thought, I am glad to see that there are rights to treat every child in the same way. Unfortunately, the reality is that a child in a third world country is be treated as an adult. He or she has to work from a very young age. This is a strong reason why I want to see UNICEF’s work in the future.
Verhellen, E., Verdrag inzake de rechten van het kind, Garant NV, 2000, p.252
Prior, K., UNICEF, Harmelen, 2001, p. 321
Raad voor het jeugdbeleid, Van gedrag tot verdrag, SWP, 1996, p.78
Ling, L., Internationale regelgeving over de rechten van het kind, Defence for children international, 1993, p.145
Versmissen, M., Op de bres voor kinderrechten, Bakermat, 1993, p.58
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