From Judith Wagner, Deputy World President and Regional Vice President for North America and the Caribbean, and Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson, Immediate Past President and OMEP’s Main Representative at the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), United Nations:
This is a brief summary of our work in New York this week representing OMEP at the UN High-level meetings on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in the post-2015 agenda.
Along with Maria Pia Belloni, an OMEP representative to the UN Department of Public Information, we attended a high-level side event entitled No Child without Rights: Breaking the Barriers of Inequality. This side event was organized by the Permanent Missions of Benin, Brazil, and Japan and ATD 4th World, Child Fund Alliance, and SOS Children’s Village. Here we noticed once again how important it is to have people from the early childhood community at these meetings, since the focus tends to be on school-aged and young adults unless someone brings early childhood into focus.
Also on Wednesday, we attended a high-level side event entitled A World without Violence against Children sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Japan, the Permanent Mission of Sweden, Child Fund Alliance, Plan, Save the Children, UNICEF, World Vision. At this event, we learned about research on the benefits of non-violent approaches to discipline. A growing number of countries have developed anti-corporal punishment policies and more are in the process of doing so, yet spanking, caning, physical restraint, and other forms of violent punishment are still accepted in many parts of the world. This event convinced us that OMEP should consider writing a position paper on the importance of eliminating corporal punishment and other forms of violence against the youngest children in homes and schools.
High-level officials, including ambassadors and government ministers attended both side events. As always, we were able to network with other early childhood people; but perhaps more importantly, we were able to highlight early childhood in our discussions with people who do not yet recognize the importance of the early childhood years.
Also while in NY, we (1) worked on a joint statement by OMEP, ADEA, and others at the recent Nagoya Conference on Education for Sustainable Development to encourage UNESCO to declare a Decade for Early Childhood Education; (2) submitted OMEP’s supportive response to the Global Call for research on Children Deprived of Liberty; and (3) together with Maria Pia Belloni, completed the Annual NGO Report for the UN Department of Public Information. (It is submitted and accepted!). In the evening, we met with members of the New York Team to discuss OMEP projects and work at the UN. We also discussed recent invitations from the NGO Committee on Migration to co-sponsor High-Level Side Events on children in migration and refugee situations in February and July, 2015. The February side event is to be held in Geneva, so this may give some of our European colleagues an opportunity to participate.
The highlight of the week was the full day of meetings and celebrations yesterday marking the 25th anniversary of the CRC. We attended
(1) the launch of UNICEF’s Imagination Project. This provides an opportunity for all of us to engage in a global sing-along to John Lennon’s famous song, Imagine. Recorded voices from all over the world will be synthesized into a CD recording to be released on New Year’s Day, 2015, to bring the world’s attention to the CRC and the rights of children.
(2) the High Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the 25th Anniversary of the CRC , United Nations General Assembly
(3) OMEP was among the organizations invited to a luncheon where UNICEF launched its State of the World’s Children Report 2015. For the first time, the report is in an interactive on-line format.
(4) The Continuation of the High Level Meeting, this time as an Interactive Panel Discussion.
Throughout this day of celebration, we noticed once again that the focus was consistently on older children and young adults. OMEP must continue to raise our voices for the youngest children in venues like this where global policies are made. We also noticed that, while sustainability and education for sustainable development were emphasized repeatedly in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals for 2015-2030, the youngest children were rarely part of the discourse beyond reduction of infant mortality and increases in immunizations. We still have much work to do to make sure the youngest children and their education is not only part of the dialogue but also part of the policy and its implementation.
Judith and Ingrid