Children's rights have been celebrated in Myanmar for the first time in 20 years.
The occasion was to mark the anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The international convention, signed at the UN General Assembly in 1989 and ratified by the Myanmar government in 1991 has never been officially marked in this country.
The celebration was organised with the help of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission and attended by the chief minister of Yangon Region and representatives of UNICEF, as well as children and teachers.
Chief Minister U Myint Swe said Myanmar had assumed its responsibilities by adopting the convention, which built on the country’s 1993 law on child protection. The convention’s 51 clauses are designed to protect children’s rights and meet their basic needs.
“Children are a vital human resource for the future of the state. We need to pay serious attention to promoting the lives of children and protecting them from violation of their rights,” said U Myint Swe. “We expect this anniversary to be celebrated throughout the country next year.”
U Win Mra, chairman of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, said the convention on children’s rights was one of the three core human rights convention ratified by Myanmar. He urged all concerned to protect, nurture, promote and care for children, as well as to protect their rights.
“The convention has been observed in past years on an individual basis, but this year the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission has marshalled all the resources under one banner to celebrate this occasion,” said U Win Mra.
U Myint Swe said the Myanmar government had set up committees from the national level down to the township level to carry out child protection activities.
UNICEF representative Mr Bertrand Bainvel said many challenges to children’s rights persisted throughout the country, including violence and lack of access to basic needs and services.
“We request all of you to create a better life for us. We don’t want to live under conditions that are insecure,” said Ma Thin Me Me Zaw, a middle school student from Yangon’s Shwe Pyi Thar township who attended the ceremony.