The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2019. It is one of the cornerstones of our work and plays a vital role in shaping our political activities. Through our advocacy work, we can raise the awareness of political decision-makers for violations of children's rights and, together with local and global actors, improve the situation of children.
Text: Frank Mischo, photos: Kindernothilfe, Jakob Studnar / © Kindernothilfe
Growing inequality, extreme poverty and violence, demographic challenges, rapid urbanisation and climate change are global trends that threaten the realisation of children's rights. Putting a stop to these trends and creating sustainable structures to realise these rights is one of the core tasks of our advocacy work and an integral part of many overseas projects. If we are to improve our effectiveness, it is vital that this work is (inter)linked and co-ordinated with that of our partners to allow us to take advantage of valuable synergies.
That is why Kindernothilfe surveyed all overseas partner organisations in the summer of 2019 with respect to their advocacy activities. Most were interested in co-operating in this area. Based on their responses, we developed working areas that will shape what we do in the future: in the context of children's rights, almost all partners stressed that the violation of the right to protection against violence was in most urgent need of being addressed, and the one that jeopardises all other positive developments. The right of children and young people to participate in all matters concerning them is also gaining in importance among partners. This is a right that must be fulfilled, if we are to achieve targeted, meaningful improvements. Children and young people want to stand up for their own rights; we must ensure that they are given the opportunity to do so.
The survey also clearly revealed that, in many countries, civil and political rights are being increasingly restricted. This means that civil society organisations are confronted with shrinking spaces in which they can operate. Joint strategies and support through work within alliances and networks create new opportunities for political participation as a means of improving the situation of children. For example, in 2019, the Philippine government wanted to lower the age of criminal responsibility for children from fourteen to nine. It can be problematic for local child rights organisations to openly challenge the government. Thus, Kindernothilfe launched a worldwide campaign to support its partners. The government subsequently reviewed its decision and is now proposing to lower the age of criminal responsibility to twelve. Kindernothilfe and its partners are still contributing actively to the debate.
In 2020, we will start the systematic implementation of specific advocacy initiatives through joint activities at all levels, from local to global – with Kindernothilfe alliance partners in Austria, Luxembourg and Switzerland, our country co-ordination offices, our partners, other advocacy alliances and networks and, last but not least, with the children and young people themselves, e.g. by supporting their self-organised initiatives.