The New Handbook of Children's Rights: Comparative Policy and Practice

The New Handbook of Children's Rights: Comparative Policy and Practice

The New Handbook of Children's Rights: Comparative Policy and Practice

The New Handbook of Children's Rights: Comparative Policy and Practice

Synopsis

This edition provides information on topics including the impact of British legislation on children's rights in key areas such as education, social and welfare services and criminal justice, and the provisions of the UN Convention and Human Rights Act.

Excerpt

Twelve days into the new Bush administration, the leader of the American delegation to the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children launched a “blistering attack” on children's economic, welfare and cultural rights. Ambassador Southwick suggested that “the human rights based approach, while laudable in its objectives, poses significant problems” (CRIN, 2 February 2001). Turning specifically to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Southwick stated that “The United States does not accept obligations based on it nor do we accept that it is the best or only framework for developing programmes and policies to benefit children” (ibid.). Given these sentiments, it is perhaps unsurprising that America together with Somalia remain the only two countries in the world which have failed to ratify the Convention. The Ambassador's uncompromising rejection of the Convention highlights the fragility of any policy consensus to resolve the problems confronting children and young people in the emerging global economy and society. But these problems are considerable and growing. Children's most basic rights to drinking water, food, shelter and even the right to life are being denied on a scale which is alarming.

A quarter of the world's children live in poverty. Childhood and poverty go together. In poorer countries such as Angola, which the UN claims is the worst place in the world to be a child, children under 15 constitute 48 per cent of the population. Globally, an estimated 120 million children aged 5-14 work full time while a further 130 million work part time. More than 130 million of the 625 million children of primary school age in developing countries have no access to basic education. 183 million of the world's children weigh less than they should for their age, 158 million children under 5 are malnourished, 800 million lack access to health services and, in the poorest countries, preventable diseases such as diarrhoea kill 2 million children every year (UNICEF, 1998).

Children, moreover, face very different futures. Globalisation seems increasingly to create a dualistic world characterised by divergence rather than any convergence in children's material circumstances. While

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