Annual full-day on the rights of the child.
On Thursday, March 7, the United Nations Human Rights Council held its “Annual full-day meeting on the rights of the child.” In accordance with resolution 19/37, this year’s session featured a panel discussion focused on the right of the child to the highest attainable standard of health. IIMA Human Rights Office and the participants in 10th training course organized by the Office had the opportunity to observe the discussions.
Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, opening the discussion, said that 6.9 million children around the world died each year before the age of 5 years, that most of these deaths were preventable. She urged States to avoid discrimination in promoting the right to health, particularly for the most vulnerable children.
The panel discussion was moderated by Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet. It featured several Rapporteurs, high-level representatives of international health organizations, two children representatives from Haiti and Bolivia, and public health leaders from countries that had made particular progress in the area of child health, including Uruguay and Bangladesh.
One major theme of the discussion was the relationship between the right to health and all other rights. As Jonas, the child representative from Bolivia, noted, children cannot fully enjoy all their other rights without being healthy. One particularly important interdependent relationship is between the right to health and the right to education. They noted that major threats to rights to health, including violence against children, drug use and child marriage can be reduced with effective health and human rights education. Indeed, Flavia Bustreo of the World Health Organization noted that education is what can connect right to health promotion efforts across sectors, including human rights bodies, the public health community, and the justice system; the speakers from Uruguay and Bangladesh provided valuable examples of this principle. Education is also very important for giving children a voice about their own health and well-being.
Several countries participated in the interactive dialogue throughout the day; they shared many best practices, successes in the area of child health, and different views about what is most important to promote children’s, physical, mental, and emotional health.
With growing incidences of health problems such as child obesity, substance abuse, and mental health problems alongside with other public health threats, it will take combined efforts from the international community, civil society, health professionals, education systems, families and the private sector to truly ensure every child’s right to the highest available standard of health.