UN focus on child rights in Liberia

The Committee found among positive developments in the second periodic report Liberia the formulation of a framework of a National Plan of Action for Children (2000-2015) and the comparative analysis of the articles of the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the Liberian Constitution in 2000; the establishment of a Ministry of Gender and Development with a portfolio on children’ affairs in 2001; the establishment of the National Child Rights Observatory Group in 2003 as well as of the Children Parliament in 2002; the ratification in 2003 of the ILO Convention No. 182 concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour; and the comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2003 and the related Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration Programme and the Result-Focused Transition Framework identifying key priority areas with regard to the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

The Committee observed that the armed conflict in the State party had caused very severe and large-scale violations of the human rights of children. The State party faced almost overwhelming challenges rebuilding the infrastructure and the basic social services necessary for the implementation of the rights of the child. About 20,000 children had been involved in the recent armed conflict and were in urgent need of rehabilitation and social reintegration. The war led to the destruction of almost all of the schools in the country. In 2004, less than 50 per cent of children were enrolled in primary education. Those and other severe challenges for the child’s right to life, survival and development should be addressed and required major efforts from the State party for which international assistance was of crucial importance.

The Committee urged the State party to undertake every measure possible to restore enjoyment by the children in Liberiaof their rights as enshrined in the Convention and make that the highest priority and have it reflected in the allocation of human and financial resources. In that regard, the State party should urge the international community (other States, UN agencies, NGOs) to meet their pledges in the most expedient manner and to further increase their financial and humanitarian assistance. The Committee wished to express its full support for such an appeal, taking into account the significant importance the Convention attached to international cooperation to assist State parties to meet their international obligations under the treaty.

The Committee urged the State party to make every effort to strengthen family tracing programmes; to plan for the effective provision of alternative care for separated children, making use of the extended family, foster care and alternative family structures; to take immediate steps to end the practice of female genital mutilation; to continue strengthening its efforts in preventing and treating the effects of HIV/AIDS; to prioritize construction and reconstruction of schools throughout the country and improve accessibility for all children, taking into account the needs of children with disabilities; to take every feasible measure to have all child abductees and combatants released and demobilized and to rehabilitate and reintegrate them in society, and to strengthen its efforts to provide adequate assistance to the internally displaced children.

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