Today is Universal Children’s Day. November 20 marks the day on which the United Nations Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. The Convention specifies a number of children’s rights, including the right to life, to health, to education, to play, to family life, to protection from violence, and to protection from discrimination.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a message for this year’s observance:
This year, I wish to emphasize the importance of ensuring that the commitments made by the international community to the world’s children are extended to a group of children who are often forgotten or overlooked: those deprived of their liberty.
Far too many children languish in jail, mental health facilities or through other forms of detention. Some children are vulnerable because they are migrants, asylum seekers, homeless or preyed on by organized criminals.
Ban Ki-moon’s statement continues:
This year’s observance falls at a time when 60 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes – more than at any time since the Second World War. Almost half of them are children fleeing oppression, terrorism, violence and other violations of their human rights.
It is particularly important for those of us who live in relative plenty to keep in mind the plight of children and their families as nations debate whether to grant asylum to the thousands of people fleeing oppression, terrorism, and violence in their former homes.