UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
19 October 2012
The promotion and protection of the rights of children
Statement by Ms Tanisha Hewanpola, First Secretary
Australian Mission to the United Nations
Children are the future of our nation. We consider them to be a precious resource which needs to be given every opportunity to learn and to grow and to flourish. Ensuring this requires that their rights and needs are respected and promoted. This is fundamental.
Recognising the particular vulnerabilities faced by children, Australia is firmly committed to doing all we can to ensure the protection of children from exploitation and abuse, and to ensure the best interests of the child are upheld.
Australia welcomes the Report of the Secretary-General on the Status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We support strongly the recommendations in the report, including the Secretary-General’s call for the establishment of a framework of laws, policies and programs to ensure that the rights of children form an integral part of the continuum of care, education and protection afforded to them in the early years of life. We support also the Secretary-General’s call for a global alliance to advocate for the full implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and urge all Member States who have not already done so to become parties to the Convention.
At a national level, Australia has sought to strengthen our domestic policy settings around children’s rights and protection. A key part of our 10-year National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children (2009-2020) is the establishment of a Children’s Commissioner within the Australian Human Rights Commission. Responsibilities of the new Children’s Commissioner include advocating for the promotion of children’s rights through raising public awareness of issues affecting children, undertaking research and education programs, and liaising with children’s representative organisations. The Children’s Commissioner will also take an active role in monitoring federal legislation, policies and programs that relate to children’s rights, wellbeing and development.
Australia welcomes the focus in this year’s Rights of the Child resolution on Indigenous children. Australia places a high priority on addressing the needs of Indigenous children in our ‘Closing the Gap Strategy’ including in the areas of access to health, education and other opportunities.
Australia remains deeply concerned at the ongoing and deplorable violations of children’s rights that continue to occur and we welcome the continuing attention paid to this issue by the Secretary-General. We support the Secretary-General’s calls for a comprehensive strategy on violence against children as outlined in the report of the Special Representative for the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, and we commend the Special Representative for her efforts to engage regional bodies and stakeholders. Australia supports the mandate of the Special Representative to promote greater safety for children, including in our own region – the Asia-Pacific.
The UN Security Council’s work on Children and Armed Conflict is an important element part of the international community’s efforts to protect children from violence. We welcome the Security Council’s ongoing focus on ensuring children’s protection is incorporated into country-specific action taken by the Council. We also welcome the Council’s expanded set of triggers for listing perpetrators of violence against children in armed conflict, and the introduction of designation criteria for grave violations against the rights of children in sanctions committees. We urge other committees to adopt similar measures.
Australia is deeply committed to the promotion and protection of the rights of children and looks forward to continuing to work with the United Nations and Member States to ensure that children’s rights continue to receive the priority they need.