Implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Afghanistan

Kabul, 3 May 2011- The Ministry of Justice of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in coordination with UNICEF hosted today a one day conference marking the official launching of the follow up on the implementation of recommendations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Afghanistan’s commitment to implementing the Convention on the Rights (CRC) is based on the article 7 of the Constitution, stipulating that “the State shall observe the United Nations Charter, inter-state agreements, as well as international treaties to which Afghanistan has joined, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.

Afghanistan ratified the CRC in 1994 and reached its truly historic milestone, submitting the initial report on the implementation of the Convention in August 2009. On February 4, 2011 the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child adopted its concluding observations to Afghanistan.

One of the observations of the Committee is that in spite of the recent legislative developments in the field of child rights, Afghanistan did not consider the Convention as a legally binding instrument in the internal order and had therefore not incorporated it systematically into the domestic legal system in order to make it applicable.
To this aim, the Committee and UNICEF recommended that the Government considers enacting a comprehensive Child Act which would supersede all legislation that is not in conformity with the Convention and provide children with appropriate means of redress. Once in place the successful implementation of a Child Act shall require the fullest ownership and commitment from the senior-most levels of the Government of Afghanistan.

A number of recommendations of the Committee are focused on girls and non-discrimination in access to education and health. Girls’ education is critical to save lives- Afghanistan has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. The Committee urged the State party to rectify the disparity in the minimum age of marriage for boys and girls by raising the minimum age of marriage for girls to that of boys at 18 years.

The conference features the most urgent priorities for the Government of Afghanistan gathering the main actors of the executive branch to discuss the protection of children rights in the country. The participation of the key ministries of Foreign Affairs, Education, Interior, Labor and Social Affairs, Public Health in today’s Conference demonstrates the government’s strong enthusiasm and high level of engagement to comply with the provisions of the Convention.  
The Human Rights Support Unit of the Ministry of Justice made a presentation on the immediate actions to be undertaken by the Government, which derive from the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The outcome of the discussions on the priority lists will lead to drafting of a Plan of Action to fulfill the Government’s obligations in implementing the Rights of the Child in the country.

This conference is the first step to make the rights of the child a reality in Afghanistan. The conference is organized by the Human Rights Unit in the Ministry of Justice in partnership with UNICEF and Directorate of Human Rights and Women's International Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The event is co-sponsored by the UNDP and supported by the Embassies of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Norway, UK and Swiss Development Cooperation.