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Putting the Spotlight on Children’s Rights
Apr 10, 2013

Yesterday, an event was held at the Camden Court Hotel in Dublin to mark the launching of the Coalition for Children’s Rights.  ChildFund Ireland established the coalition in conjunction with UNICEF Ireland, World Vision Ireland, Plan Ireland and Children in Crossfire in order to use combined resources and a single voice to increase pressure on the Irish government and the international community to prioritise children’s rights within the post-2015 development framework.

All the coalition partners recognise the success of the Millennium Development Goals project, but have identified some worrying gaps relating to children’s rights.  The most obvious of these is the lack of progress on MDG 4; Of the 67 countries defined as having high child mortality, only 10 are currently on track to meet the goal of cutting child mortality by two thirds.  Elsewhere, whilst primary school enrollment has dramatically increased, this has not translated into real success; in 2010 there were still 122 million youth (age 15-24) unable to read and write (UN MDG Report, 2012).

The Coalition seeks to address this simple fact about children noted by ChildFund Ireland’s CEO, Michael Kiely – that despite progress, ‘we are still failing many millions of them.’  Its first practical step is the position paper it presented yesterday, making key recommendations to the Irish government, urging it to advocate for:

  1. The prioritisation of child and maternal health between now and 2015
  2. The inclusion in the successive agenda of a focus on access to quality education, including access to Early Childhood Development services and transition to and completion of secondary education
  3. The inclusion of the child’s right to protection from violence of all forms
  4. The promotion of resilience and empowerment of children
  5. The prioritization of girls’ rights, recognizing that they are twice as vulnerable, being both children and female
  6. A focus on the prevention of mother-to-child HIV infection and increased pediatric treatment

The coalition has got off to a fast start on its goal to influence broader agendas.  Ireland’s Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello, attended the event in person and spoke of his high regard for the coalition’s collaborative effort, pledging to take the agenda forward at the highest levels, including at the UN Beyond 2015 Summit in September.  Whilst the current situation for many children around the world is bleak, the coalition members show that hope for change, and the determination to achieve it, are alive and well.  If their commitment is matched elsewhere, we could be on the verge of a great moment in history.  As put by Michael Kiely, the “the big strategic prize for all of us is to create one generation of children – just one – which is relatively free from violence.  And by doing so, as night follows day, we will create a better, safer and a less violent world for all the generations to follow.”

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