STATEMENT BY H.E Ambassador Adela Raz
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
At the “Thirtieth Anniversary on the Adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Celebration of World Children’s Day”
November 20, 2019
Let me begin by thanking the UN General Assembly for holding this very important High Level Meeting on the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the “Convention on the Rights of the Child,” which this year coincides with the World Children’s Day. As it has been said, it is truly a time to demand actions and for every child to have every right.
Unfortunately, despite the long history of this very important Convention across the world, children still suffer the pain of losing their parents and their lives in conflict. Still, they long for a peaceful and equitable childhood with equal protection and equal rights. For safety and better opportunities, they still take the long and dangerous route of refuge.
Since the adoption of the Convention, the dynamics and severity of the challenges that millions of children face globally have profoundly changed. Our societies are affected by armed conflict, internal displacement, climate change, transnational terrorism, and criminality.
In Afghanistan too, children are among the most vulnerable of social groups. Their protection is a national security priority and a human rights commitment. In the last decade, party to the Convention, the Government of Afghanistan has allocated its institutional and legal resources to draft, approve, and endorse a series of legislations and national action plans, to safeguard children, and protect their rights.
As a responsible government and state, we are obligated to create an environment conducive to the social, physical, and mental well-being of our children.
Regarding education, we have developed the National Education Strategic Plan to expand access to equitable education and increase enrollment of primary and secondary schools. We have also adopted the Safe Schools Declaration to shield children from the effects of conflict.
Today, more than 9 million children, including the 3.5 million girls, are going to school, some with the utmost bravery in the face of threats from the Taliban and other militant groups who oppose women and girls’ education.
On the push to end child labor, we have made considerable progress. Our National Child Labor Strategy provides the legal foundation to combat child exploitation in the labor force. We have launched nationwide training programs, public awareness campaigns, and taken preventative measures to practically eradicate child labor by 2030.
Part of the vulnerability of the Afghan children in conflict zones is due to indiscriminate use of human shields by the Taliban. The conduct of war in residential areas seriously endangers the lives of children. Our security forces are repeatedly instructed and educated to preserve the core principles of conduct of war in accordance with International Humanitarian Law, as well as the modern ethics and moralities of war, in order to prevent civilian casualties, including the lives of children. However, terrorist groups, especially the Taliban, have no such boundaries or any international and national commitments to follow. From this international platform it is important to call upon the Taliban to stop using children and civilian compounds as shields. It is from this platform that we must call upon them to stop the killing of innocent children.
Just last week a suicide blast took the lives of 12 people including 3 children in Kabul. Among them were two children from a single family. A sister and a brother. The night before the attack, the family had celebrated the 7th birthday of one of their children, who was killed the following day.
This is the story of children, not only in Afghanistan but across the world, that lose their lives as a result of protracted conflict and terrorist attacks. Our shared commitment as member states and our joint pledge is needed now more than ever to implement in full our obligation under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Afghanistan renews its pledge to the Convention and as an engaged member of the United Nations. As such, we will do our upmost to advocate and take action in order to ensure the safety and security of every child in Afghanistan, and provide them the necessary means and resources for the protection of their rights.