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Манифест Стокгольмской конференции Глобального движения в поддержку детей


STOCKHOLM MANIFESTO



Adopted by consensus at the Generation in Jeopardy Conference (Stockholm, 18-20 June 2001) by representatives of parliaments and public institutions, non-governmental organisations, media, culture and academia as well as of children and young people from Central and Eastern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltic States.

OUR PURPOSE

We gathered in Stockholm - 150 of us, from 27 countries and diverse walks of life — to address the crisis that is facing our children and endangering the better future that was promised over a decade ago with the fall of the Berlin Wall. We came together as committed individuals, but we represent important, often powerful, organisations, institutions, networks and sectors of society - constituencies that can and must do more to protect and promote the rights of our children and young people.

We have not deliberated in isolation. Our conference was part of an unprecedented sequence of regional consultations organised in preparation for the United Nations Special Session on Children that will take place in September and set a new global agenda for the world's children for the next decade. Following these important consultations by NGOs, young people and governments across the region over the past months, we have now sought to mobilise other crucially important sectors - particularly business leaders, parliamentarians, media professionals, academics and researchers, representatives of culture and the arts - to raise our voices and Say Yes for Children. Young people have been a vital part of our discussions; we have listened to them and highly value their contribution.

We who have been part of the sweeping transformation of our societies over the past decade now proudly join UNICEF and a wide range of other partners in building a Global Movement for Children.

CRITICAL SITUATION OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE

150 million children live in the 27 countries in transition. It is a region stretching from Zagreb to Vladivostok, from the Baltic Sea to the Bering Straits and from the Arctic Circle to the Pamir Mountain Range.

These are the children of the "post-perestroika" era in the republics of the former Soviet Union, the children of the "velvet revolution" in former

Czechoslovakia, the children of the "singing revolution" in the Baltic countries, children who have witnessed war and violence, children suffering from economic free-fall.

In the 1990s, national strategies aimed at strengthening the market economy and consolidating democracy have inadvertently caused additional social hardship for millions of them. Today, nearly 60 million children in the region .are living in poverty. Growing poverty and inequality, cuts in social spending and rising unemployment have put huge pressures on families, compromising their ability to adequately care for children.

Even as economies begin to recover from the effects of transition, low public expenditure for social sectors continues to affect both access to and provision of basic services, quality of education, health care and social protection for children. Notable efforts by non-governmental organisations and a small but growing number of private corporations to address this crisis have alleviated suffering for many children, but are simply unable to compensate for reduced government capacity to support social development.

Millions of children have been affected by armed conflicts and ethnic discrimination and intolerance. Trafficking, sexual exploitation, violence, crime, suicide, accidents, alcohol and drug abuse are all on the rise. A growing number of children are being deprived of their right to grow up in a family environment. One and a half million children are languishing in institutions.

The closing down of tens of thousands of pre-school and day-care services has sharply reduced opportunities for early childhood care and development. Over 18 million children and youth are out of school and/or without jobs.

HIV/AIDS is spreading rapidly in the region, with some of the sharpest rates of increase in the world. Most of the region's 700,000 people with HIV/AIDS are youth. Around half of all those who contract HIV become infected before the age of 25. Drug abuse beginning in adolescence is the main cause of the pandemic's spread in the region.

The picture is not entirely dark. Despite transitional difficulties and financial constraints, some progress has been achieved. The Convention on the Rights of the Child has been ratified by all countries in the region. Emerging civil society is recognised as an important social partner, and is providing crucial support to social mobilisation for children's rights. Over the decade, child mortality rates continued to decline. School enrolment remains high.

But, still...this is not the better future promised in 1990 by the World Summit for Children. It adds up to a crisis of major dimensions that threatens the many opportunities and freedoms opened by the transition from communist to democratic societies.

After a decade of transition it is clear that the each State alone cannot ensure the rights of all children. The crisis must be faced squarely by governments, families, civil society, including non-governmental organisations, the private sector, culture, academia and the media - all working together to change the region for, and with, children and youth across the frontiers.

PRIORITY ACTIONS FOR CHILDREN

Over two and a half days, we have listened to experts from different disciplines. We have examined the results of the most up-to-date research, official data and surveys. We have taken to heart the outcomes of other regional consultations. We have shared experiences and best practice. We have reached consensus on the priority actions that need to be implemented - starting now and over the coming decade - to improve children's lives and safeguard their rights.

Social policy reforms must be family centred and firmly rooted in the principles of children's rights. Efficient national strategies should be developed with participation of all partners concerned, including children and young people. State institutions and local governments should give priority to the development of relevant administrative, institutional, monitoring and financial mechanisms with emphasis on the eradication of poverty, social exclusion and income inequality.

Central governments and local authorities should recognise non-governmental organisations as partners, and delegate more responsibility and authority to them for planning and implementation of social development projects.

The private sector in the region has to be mobilised in support of children, especially the most disadvantaged. Corporate social responsibility and "social business" need to be supported and promoted. An enabling legal and regulatory for this must be established. Sustainable partnerships, capacity-building, ethical codes of conduct, social indices to measure performance - are all necessary elements. Our message: it is good business to do good for children.

The child's essential right is to grow up in a family. Effective information campaigns, legislative change base on this right must be promoted. Improvement of legal guardian statues, fostering and in-country adoption systems should be further enhanced. Increased use of family-based care alternatives should be developed to prevent and decrease institutionalisation of children. Existing institutions should be family-like and step by step be transformed into care opportunities based on child's rights.

Child and family centred community and school based services, organised free time activities and safe spaces for children at risk or marginalised are urgently needed.

Equal opportunities for children with disabilities must be established, including access to day-care facilities and support services and integration of those with disabilities or who are affected by HIV/AIDS into mainstream •education should be ensured. The psychosocial needs of children and young people living in conflict situations and/or exposed to abuse should be respected.

Active participation of children and young people in social life, in decision-making process that affect their lives should be encouraged by all means, including through support of youth organisations.

"Youth-friendly" health, counselling and harm reduction services should be provided with participation of young people where appropriate. Young people should be trained and empowered to support and educate their peers. All schools and institutions should be "child-friendly" with healthy, safe and participatory environments, free from corporal punishment, violence and discriminatory practices.

Teachers need far more support to do their job. In many countries, curriculum reforms as well as modern teaching methods that promote participation and individual development of children and their learning outcomes must e implemented. A conducive environment for the full development of children's capacities should be promoted together with respect for diversity in children and young people, life skills education, health, sexual and hygiene education, education for peace and tolerance.

Priority attention should be given to effective national and international information, risk-awareness and behaviour change programmes to fight against HIV/AIDS.

The "digital divide" that threatens to lock out millions of children from the Information Revolution must be combated through inclusive policies and programmes. Media should establish high ethical standards and be fully aware of possible negative influence on children and young people. The mass media must educate and inform, not just entertain. Youth media networks should be developed.

Children should have unimpeded access to high quality early childhood care and development opportunities and basic education, including free and compulsory education. Equal access to education for children of minorities, refugee and displaced children should be ensured.

Measures should be introduced on a priority basis to reduce dropout from school before acquisition of basic education, including through effective community support systems and increased parental involvement in education.

A gender perspective should be mainstreamed into all strategies and programmes for children, including through the promotion of equality between girls and boys.

A CALL FOR CO-OPERATION AND COORDINATED EFFORTS

It is simply not acceptable that children and youth in many countries of our region have worse conditions now than before 1989, the year when Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted. Everyone should take responsibility. We need to benefit from our different experiences and create synergy thorough our combined efforts and networks.

We will strongly advocate for the improvement of legislation to ensure the rights of children and young people, including the establishment of juvenile justice system in line with international human rights treaties. Increased budgetary allocations for the benefit of the health, education and social protection for children and families are needed. Mechanisms to co-ordinate and monitor efforts for children - such as children's ombudspersons - are called for.

We are important social actors, we have much to contribute. We must work hard to bridge the gaps that divide us, and in spite of our different experiences and perspectives, learn from each other and co-operate efficiently in establishing a culture of mutual trust. Together, we can make a difference.

We will actively participate in the Say Yes for Children campaign and build the Global Movement for Children. We pledge our time and energy to assure that all children can live in health, peace and dignity. We will encourage closer co­operation between governments, parliaments, non-governmental organisations, the private sector, media, culture and academia, and regional and international organisations to create a region fit for children in a world fit for children.

We will secure a continued dialogue started in Stockholm, and welcome new partners to join in actions for children and young people.

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