A high-level conference on policies for the comprehensive development of children was held in Hanoi on Saturday by the National Assembly, in collaboration with the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, and UNICEF as part of the 30th anniversary celebrations of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
“Vietnam’s Constitution and other legal documents related to children have clearly shown that protection, care and education of children are considered a national strategic issue, contributing to the preparation and improvement of the quality of human resources for the country’s industrialization, modernization in the process of international integration,” a joint press release quoted Tong Thi Phong, vice-chair of the National Assembly, as saying at the conference.
While the CRC applies to each and every child below the age of 18, the conference was putting a spotlight on the youngest and oldest children.
Early childhood and adolescence are important windows of opportunity to influence a child’s future life course and are key to Vietnam’s ambitious goals for human capital development and sustainable growth.
The economic success of countries in the future will depend on putting children at the heart of human capital development.
Human capital development begins with the youngest.
In Vietnam, significant progress has been achieved in early childhood development over the past 30 years, however further efforts are needed to address issues such as stunting, access to pre-school, violence against children, and children without parental care.
The approval of the Prime Minister’s Decision 1437 to promote Integrated Early Childhood Development (IECD) is a significant step to facilitate the access to multiple services among young children and their families in a cohesive manner.
Adolescence is also critical, as a life stage characterized by growing opportunities, participants at the conference also recognized significant vulnerabilities and risks that older children are facing in this period.
Nevertheless, the Law on Children defines children as those under 16, which excludes those between 16 and 17 years from a full range of services and protection measures.
|Tong Thi Phong, vice-chair of the National Assembly, speaks at a high-level conference on policies for the comprehensive development of children, held in Hanoi on November 23, 2019 by the National Assembly, in collaboration with the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, and UNICEF. Photo: Supplied|
“The unintended consequence of the low age of childhood in the Law on Children in Vietnam is that we have left them in no man’s land – not yet adults, not yet reached the age of majority – but no longer given the same protections from abuse as younger children,” said Rana Flowers, UNICEF representative.
The conference identified concrete measures to strengthen the legal framework to ensure all children are adequately protected.
An important pathway to the full implementation of children’s rights is to ensure that children’s priorities are integrated into the medium and long-term plans, and importantly, in national and sub-national budgets.
“UNICEF counts on the National Assembly, in its capacity to make vital decisions and carry out oversight, to assure the SEDS/P includes child-related targets and indicators, especially those encompassing IECD and adolescent development for promoting comprehensive development of children in Vietnam,” Flowers said.
Thirty years on, the rights set out in the CRC remain acutely relevant, as are its guiding principles.
These principles call on everyone to realize the rights of every child without discrimination and prioritize the best interests of the child.
They recognize the simple fact that children and young people are agents of change.
Their participation in identifying critical issues affecting them, planning and policy dialogue is key to setting the agenda for action and working out solutions to the critical challenges.
On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the CRC, this conference was intended to foster dialogue and action for the protection of child rights, thus upholding the principles of the convention.
More than 100 senior members of the National Assembly, leaders of the government, line ministries and agencies, civil social organizations, universities, research institutions, private sector, INGOs, and development organizations were present at the conference.
Key discussion points at the conference would be documented and sent to relevant agencies for enhancing their awareness and follow-up action for the implementation of the rights of every child in Vietnam.