South Sudan: Put child rights first, UNICEF says

South Sudan: Put child rights first, UNICEF says

South Sudan becomes 195th State to ratify Convention on the Rights of the Child

JUBA, South Sudan/ HONG KONG, May 5, 2015– UNICEF today welcomed South Sudan’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and urged the Government to make child rights the cornerstone of the world’s youngest nation.

South Sudan is the 195th State to adopt the landmark child rights treaty. The Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly over 25 years ago, and is the most widely adopted international human rights treaty in history.

UNICEF Representative in South Sudan Jonathan Veitch welcomed the Government’s commitment to child rights through ratification of the treaty. He warned, however, that the future of the world’s youngest nation is at stake unless current violations of children’s rights stop.

“We must use this historic occasion to focus our minds on the hundreds of thousands of children in South Sudan who have been left behind because of conflict,” Veitch said. “These are the children struggling to access food, recruited by armed groups and forced to drop out of school.”

“All children in South Sudan have the right to nutrition, education, improved water and sanitation, protection and health services. Once implemented, the Convention has the potential to transform South Sudanese children’s lives,” Veitch added.

Children continue to bear the brunt of 16 months of conflict in South Sudan:

  • 680 children have been killed.
  • 235,000 children, including many who have fled to hard-to-reach areas, are at risk of suffering from severe acute malnutrition this year.
  • 400,000 children have been forced to drop out of school as a direct result of the crisis.
  • 600,000 children have been affected by psychological distress.
  • Over 13,000 children have been recruited by armed groups on both sides of the conflict.

UNICEF is making an urgent appeal for additional funding of HK$210.6 million (US$27 million) to continue its child protection response in South Sudan.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out a series of inalienable rights for children, including the right to life, to health, to education, to play, to protection from violence, and to have their voices heard. Research has shown that when the Convention is fully incorporated into domestic law it has had a significant effect on the realization of children’s rights.