Friends-International Executive Director Sebastien Marot is currently in Geneva, Switzerland at the invitation of UN Geneva and Friends Suisse attending a three-day conference on child rights which ends with a celebration of the progress made and challenges faced in the global implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
This year is one of anniversaries – at Friends-International (FI) we’re celebrating 25 years of our work in the field of child welfare and protection. November 20th, World Children’s Day, is also the 30th anniversary of the CRC, a crucial guideline for ourselves and many others who work to ensure that the rights of children are being recognized and met.
What is the CRC?
CRC is a human rights treaty setting out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children (defined as any person under the age of 18 – Article 1). More countries (196) have ratified CRC than any other human rights treaty in history!
How CRC guides our work.
We describe the work of Friends-International as being rights-based. The CRC serves as a guideline for us and for our partnerships to ensure that our impact is recognizing, reflecting and meeting the rights of children.
For example, our policies include non-discrimination (Article 2) and our work is driven by the best interests of the child (Article 3). The holistic nature of our programs means we address many of the key rights defined within the Articles of the CRC.
Examples of impact.
Let’s look more closely at Article 28, the right to an education – how do we at FI support that? Through our programs and our #everydayheroes who provide the necessary support to them, we ensure that families are able to send their children to school, we reintegrate children back into school and we support children to remain in school. In 2018 for example, the number of children supported to access their right to education by our programs totaled 6,828.
The child’s right to health, safety and access to information in relation to its development is also something we believe strongly in, and which we deliver directly through our outreach teams who go wherever children are to provide a range of appropriate services including medical support and counseling – on the streets, in communities, shelters or even prisons. In 2018 our teams delivered 1.7 million such services in support of children and their families.
Family is at the heart of the CRC, with many of the articles of the Convention addressing the importance of strong family environments for children. Family is also at the very heart of our work at FI, with programs reintegrating children into their family, and supporting families to build safe and stable futures for their children. Back in 1994, the year Friends-International launched, the CRC was already five years old, and a perfect framework to guide our work. 25 years on, and the 17 youth we supported on our first night have grown to an annual number in excess of 140,000, all supported to build their futures within child rights focused programs which are still guided by the articles of the CRC!