Ukrainian National Civil Society Conference "Change the World with Children"
We, the participants of the National Conference "Change the World with Children", are convinced that one of the most important developments of the last decade is the fact that the protection of the rights of the child has become a priority for the international community as a whole, and for national government, in particular. Acknowledging the importance of the child rights, Ukraine ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the first year the state declared its independence. The state ratification of the Convention enhanced realization of every child rights in Ukraine. It should be underlined, that the Government of Ukraine adopted a series of critically important programme documents and legislative acts to bring national legislation in line with principles and tenets of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Efforts of political leaders and Ukrainian government members to fulfil their commitments to children are being made. At the same time, we consider that the scope of current problems requires deep strategic changes in the strategies to influence the situation of children and young people in Ukraine.
When, in general, giving positive appraisal of the activity conducted by the Government of Ukraine, state authorities of all levels in a sphere of securing the rights of children, have to acknowledge that:
- Since the time of the CRC ratification by Ukraine, the situation of children and youth in Ukraine has not been improved;
- Dynamics of infant mortality and morbidity remains negative; disability and handicap indicators among children and young people are increasing;
- There is an alarming picture with increased number of street children and children deprived of parental care, children who do not complete their basic education, and who start working long earlier than legally permitted;
- There is an increase in number of drug users, tobacco and alcohol addicted, HIV/AIDS infected among children and adolescents;
- Children and youth do not participate in the decisions affecting their lives and well being; their views are not heard.
Our concern is that the activities of state authorities to protect the children rights are insufficient and ineffective. Current situation in the country demand development of an efficient social partnership between the state bodies and the community initiative. We believe it is high time to start developing and implementing a system of interaction between governmental, non-governmental and business community using the enormous potential of Ukrainian civil society.
We, the participants of the conference, representing 130 NGOs from all regions of Ukraine, consider our experience and potential can be used for baring joint responsibility of the state, family and community for the future of the children. It is obvious that the state on its own is unable to cope with the numerous problems of children and young people. We address the President of Ukraine, Ukrainian Parliament, the Cabinet of Ministers, local authorities with the appeal to establish a strategic partnership for children and youth. We believe future actions are to be the following:
1. Establish a system of effective and efficient dialogue between the sate, NGOs, children and youth which envisages:
• involve NGOs, children and youth in development and implementation of relevant legislation to protect the rights of the children;
• undertake transparent discussions on decisions made about childhood issues on national and local levels;
• involve NGOs with a pre-selection on a transparent and competitive basis, into the state-supported programmes for children.
2. Determine governmental policy priorities for children with participation of NGOs, putting the activities in line with international commitment for children and, first of all, with the CRC tenets.
3. Promote children and youth participation in the process of decision making involving their lives. We should ensure that there is no manipulation of children and youth participation in the decision-making process. The government should act as a guarantee of developing an effective mechanism of considering the views of young people and children; the mechanism which will secure youth participation in decision-making and evaluation of the whole participation process.
We are convinced that such strategic partnership between the state, NGOs and youth is the only way to solve the urgent issues of childhood. The very first year of the new millennium can and have to be the start moment in developing the efficient policy for children. On September 19-21, 2001 the UN General Assembly Special Session for Children will gather the leaders of government, representatives of community and youth from the majority of countries to work out a strategy of actions in the best interests of children for the next 10-15 years.
We are aware that the Government of Ukraine is undertaking serious steps to get prepared to the Special Session, developing its vision and strategy for children. From our point of view, it is high time to initiate broad and critical dialog on the development of national strategy in the best interests of children of Ukraine.
We, participants at the conference "Change the World with Children" consider as our priority focusing at early years of children as most vulnerable, social and biological orphanhood, alcoholism and drug addition among children, adolescents and youth, risky behaviour of adolescents and youth as the main cause of HIV/AIDS, special attention to children from rural areas and last but not least quality of education should be brought to the level that young people can find their unique place in the quickly developing environment. Our close co-operation with Government should demonstrate commitment of all Ukrainian society to the establishment of child focused environment in our country.
We, the representatives of the state, NGOs, Mass Media and families, commit ourselves to creating a child-friendly world, the world where every child will feel safe and secure, respected and treated with dignity, and will be protected from violence, abuse, neglect and poverty. Such a world -which children themselves, families, schools, cities and countries will join together to create - is not an Utopia. We must all commit ourselves here and now to building the world fit for children in our own country.
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