The United Nations Children’s Fund is a United Nations program that provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries. A team from UNICEF Belize travelled to Chile for the first regional dialogue convened to kick off preparations on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Next year will make 30 years since the CRC was ratified by many countries across the globe. It shows that there is a shared commitment in children for successful and sustainable development. Dr. Carla Barnett, the Special Envoy Kim Barrow joined UNICEF Country Representative Dr. Susan Kasedde at the session. Dr. Kasedde said the purpose of the meeting was to take stock of all the nations in Latin America and the Caribbean
Dr. Susan Kasedde UNICEF Representative Belize: “There were four concerns really that came out of that meeting and are reflected in the declaration that was presented by adolescents and endorsed by the delegates of the meeting: one in this region we have a challenge of violence and violence is a huge threat to the successful achievement of sustainable development and effective development of the potential of young people in the region and so while the CRC really emphasises the need for every state to put in place every measure possible to address violence; we are not where we need to be and certainly not where we should be from the perspective of our very young citizens. The second is education and the opportunity for equal access to education for all young people and children in this region but also access to a quality education and to second chances, opportunities for continuing education to ensure that we can leverage the full potential of every young person that we have to support our development, that was the second priority that was identified and endorsed. The third is participation, we know that we can only pass on the lessons, tools and insight we have developed over the many years over the course of our life and our professions by working with others and mentoring with them and young people made a loud call for opportunities to include them in professional development and in skills development so they are ready and able, equipped and knowledgeable to take on the leadership roles and roles in contributing to effective communities and national development. The fourth and final priority that was identified was that of equality. The young people pointed out mainly for ethnic reasons, reasons of age, gender and identity that many young people are being left out of critical discussions and opportunities and because they are being left out as nations we are failing to really utilize the potential of all our young people and place them on the path and place our nation’s on the path of success for which they are capable.”
Dr. Carla Barnett who was present at UNICEF briefing this morning said it was important that the Ministry of Local Government participates in initiatives involving children and to continue its partnership with similar organizations.
Dr. Carla Barnett Minister of Local Government: “It was a pleasure indeed for me to be a part of the delegation that attended this meeting. The Government in Belize partners with UNICEF in various places, through the Ministry of Education and various ministries and our Ministry which is the Ministry of Local Government in this particular instance partners with UNICEF in the implementation of the Sustainable and Child Friendly Municipalities initiative. The issue of violence goes to the core of a lot of the discussion that we have had and that the young people bought the table at the meeting in Chile because we had presentations from the young people themselves that were really very touching because they were telling the stories of what they deal with on the ground in their countries and we didn’t have anybody from Belize presenting that particular thing but what was being said was very relevant to the experience a lot of the young people in Belize in terms of the violence that affects young people throughout their life cycle from babies to old people and therefore as I said that I wouldn’t identify that any is of greater priority than the other and that these are the major pritores that the young people themselves have said that these are the things that we would want our leaders, our governments to focus on- dealing effectively with the violence issue, delivering education that allows us to grow and be ourselves and become productive citizens and leaders, allowing young people to participate in determining what their priorities are in governance and in making decisions at their levels and the issue of equality.