Delivered on 6 March 2017
Delivered by H.E Dr Hala Hameed, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations Office at Geneva
My delegation welcomes and thanks the Special Rapporteur on the rights of the child for the annual report.
In the interests of time, I will be reading out an abridged version of the statement. The full statement is available online.
The rights of the child agenda is one of the most sensitive and important issues we have. Children are the beings of inspiration that get us out of bed in the morning, the motivation for our hard work and legacy, and our reign of hope for a better tomorrow. They are our future; and the only way to ensure that there is a place in the future for them is to protect them and provide them with as much equal opportunity to be all that they have the potential to be, as we possibly can.
The Constitution of the Maldives includes specific provisions to ensure the rights of children; free primary and secondary education, and also special protection measures to be taken in the best interests of the child in identified circumstances. The Constitution, the Rights of the Child Act of 1991, and several new laws reinforce the rights of children, protection from harm, unsuited economic exploitation, abuse and discrimination.
The Maldives had the review with the Committee on the Convention on Child Rights in January 2016. As noted then, our country has made significant strides including gender parity in education, with girls being the majority of high achievers. With the minimum legal age for marriage set at 18 under the Family Law Act, child marriages are a non-issue in the country. The Government is working in collaboration with UNICEF through its Child Health Strategy, to address child health issues, in particular, issues of nutrition and neonatal mortality. A child Participation Strategy has also been developed and launched and a child participation platform, ‘Adolescent Radio’, a weekly radio show which will be led and designed by young people, in efforts to engage communities on child rights issues.
When children are deprived of these opportunities to express their full potential, it not only affects the entire life of that child and their family, but all of society as well. The loss of our children’s opportunities today, translates into loss of opportunities for our future teachers, doctors and presidents. The only way to avoid this injustice, is to apprehend this reality and secure the rights of children just as surely as we seek to ensure all human rights.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can be accomplished through a human rights-based approach in which states certify economic, political, social and civil security and rights. The Maldives firmly believes is the saying “it takes a community to raise a child”, and support from community and religious leaders, in addition to social groups, educational institutions, parents, and children themselves are involved in promoting awareness about the importance of child protection. Without the accountability and unity of these voices, the struggle remains silent.
A universal approach is necessary to implement the 2030 Agenda in accordance with human rights including recognition of its 17 Goals to all children of the world. The starting point is at the meeting point of realization and protection of the children’s rights. The rights of children must stop being an afterthought and be a forethought in core programs and policies. It is time to remember that everything we are doing now is to benefit mankind in the future; children ARE that future; so, true preservation for the future begins with protection of our children today.
I would like to take this time to humbly call upon the global community to step up efforts – to promote and protect every child; to save every child from abuse; to give a home to every child, in every corner of the world. Let us all ensure that a child’s smile, a child’s hopeful dream be kept alive, for a better world.