GLOBAL: Universal Children's Day 2008

Although sandwiched between the Convention on the Right's of the Child's 18th and 20th birthdays, this year's Universal Children's Day, which falls on 20 November, has nonetheless been marked with a flurry of activity across the world.

The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) issued a press release on the rights of children to be protected from torture - particularly in view of the so-called war against terrorism.

"Since 2002, many individuals below 18 years of age have reportedly been captured and detained in US-governed detention centres in Afghanistan, in Iraq and in Guantanamo Bay. As an example, Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who was 15 years old when he was arrested in Afghanistan, has been detained in the US military base at Guantanamo Bay since October 2002. Despite his age, he was exposed to the same abuses and violations as adult prisoners. After having been repeatedly rescheduled, and despite various calls from human rights groups for Omar’s repatriation to Canada, his trial is now set for 26 January 2009. It will most likely be held by a military commission in Guantanamo Bay."

OMCT has organised an International Symposium in Geneva on 4 and 5 December called 'Torture: cultural, political and economical relativisms: the clash of convictions'. Visit their website for more details.

In a first-ever joint statement, more than thirty winners of the Nobel Peace Prize called for urgent action to implement quality education and build peace in conflict-affected countries.

The Nobel Laureates, including President Jimmy Carter, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi, urged world leaders to pay more attention to the educational needs of more the 37 million children who live in fragile states and are unable to go to school. Read more here

Global snapshot

Defence for Children International in Palestine noted how, on Universal Children's Day, the plight of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children continues to be dire.

"On the 19th anniversary of the Convention, the child protection standards enshrined in the UNCRC still seem years away from being a reality in the occupied Palestinian territory", said a press release. Read the full report here

In Nepal, the National Human Rights Commission issued a press release urging the government to implement all treaties and conventions concerning child rights.

The Land Center, Egypt, called on the government to amend the provisions of Labour Law No. 12 of 2003, particularly articles 103, 97, which deprive children and women working in agriculture from legal protection.

In Canada, the theme for the day was The Right to Protection from Sexual Exploitation while in Pakistan, some lamented government inertia, despite the efforts and initiatives of committed child rights NGOs.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, children presented a declaration to UN representatives on child rights in the country. "For nearly eight years, we await the promulgation of the law concerning the protection of the child in the Democratic Republic of Congo," said a young girl in her address to journalists.

Meanwhile, in Malaysia, reports noted that, although children's welfare had come a long way, four per cent of six to 12 year-olds are not in school and 7,000 under fives die each year from preventable diseases.

And in Taiwan, a study found that medical resources allocated to children are inadequate compared with other developed countries.

What is Universal Children's Day?

By resolution 836(IX) of 14 December 1954, the General Assembly recommended that all countries institute a Universal Children's Day, to be observed as a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children. It recommended that the Day was to be observed also as a day of activity devoted to promoting the ideals and objectives of the Charter and the welfare of the children of the world. The date 20 November, marks the day on which the Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989.

However, many countries also hold their own Children's Day on different dates during the year.

Further information


Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.