Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child, 1924
In 1924, the League of Nations (LON) adopted the Geneva Declaration, a historic document that recognised and affirmed for the first time the existence of rights specific to children and the responsibility of adults towards children. Yet despite this Geneva declaration; despite the ensuing 1959 adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (the first major international consensus on the fundamental principles of children’s rights) by the United Nations General Assembly; and despite The International Convention on the Rights of the Child (a treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989), the fundamental rights of children still hardly ever feature on a list of priorities that need urgent international attention.
Children’s rights: rights adapted to children
Children’s rights are human rights specifically adapted to the child because they take into account his fragility, specificities and age-appropriate needs.
Children’s rights take into account the necessity of development of the child. The children thus have the right to live and to develop suitably physically and intellectually.
Children’s rights plan to satisfy the essential needs for a good development of the child, such as the access to an appropriate alimentation, to necessary care, to education, etc.
Children’s rights consider the vulnerable character of the child. They imply the necessity to protect them. It means to grant a particular assistance to them, and to give a protection adapted to their age and to their degree of maturity.
So, the children have to be helped and supported and must be protected against labour exploitation, kidnapping, and ill-treatment, etc.
While there are many children’s organisations such as Humanium — an international child sponsorship NGO dedicated to stopping violations of children’s rights throughout the world — child poverty, suffering, and mortality remains at unacceptable levels which politicians, religious leaders, and the mass media prefer to ignore. According to Humanium, though some progress has been achieved, the fact remains that “Almost 9 million of under-5 children die each year, which means that a child dies every 4 seconds (22,000 per day) in the world.” Just try omparing the lack of reporting of this fact to the current frenzied hullabaloo over ebola or the recent killing of a three-month-old Jewish baby in Jerusalem. A Global Issues report noted that such a child mortality rate was equivalent to “some 92 million children dying between 2000 and 2010” and that “the silent killers are poverty, hunger, easily preventable diseases and illnesses, and other related causes. Despite the scale of this daily/ongoing catastrophe, it rarely manages to achieve, much less sustain, prime-time, headline coverage.” (http://www.globalissues.org/article/715/today-21000-children-died-around-the-world)
Year Annual number of deaths among children
1970 17’400’000 (-8%)
1980 14’700’000 (-15%)
1990 12’700’000 (-14%)
2000 12’400’000 (-2%)
2010 8’100’000 (-35%)
In 1960 alone (in just one year), the number of child deaths exceeded the Jewish Holocaust death toll by more than three times. Yet because there is no “child mortality industry” similar to the “Holocaust industry,” awareness of and concern for the plight of children receives relatively little if any attention. As part of the constant, well-financed, and meticulously organised reminders of the Holocaust, the BBC’s director of television, Mr. Danny Cohen, recently announced plans to air a series of special programs next year that will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The programs are to be broadcast around Holocaust industry Memorial Day on January 27, 2015 and will range from interviews with survivors of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau camp to a new drama about the 1961 trial in Israel of Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann who was seized in Argentina by Israeli agents and smuggled back to Israel on an El Al airliner.
It is very unlikely that Mr. Danny Cohen will be announcing any BBC plans that may include highlighting the annual genocide by neglect of young children or in-depth interviews with the mothers who held them in their arms as they slowly died of the malnutrition that also made them more vulnerable to severe diseases. Nor will Mr. Cohen be announcing any time soon — as part of the BBC’s kosher balanced reporting — programmes that address the rights of children including the fact that a large number of the Palestinian children held in Israeli prisons are being subjected to torture and abuse; that many of those children are in need of medical and psychological attention as they are being kept in bad conditions and are being abused and tortured by the Israeli guards; that those imprisoned children are even denied their basic rights, including education, proper treatment and medical care; and that those imprisoned children were tried in military courts just like adult detainees in contravention of international law. Mr. Cohen’s failure in this regard may be due to his concurrence with the Israeli view that “Palestinians are beasts unworthy of life.”
Though we like to periodically reaffirm to ourselves our own notion of humanity by commemorating those who died for their country, we feel no such obligation for the hundreds of millions of children who have died due to our indifference, neglect, hypocrisy, and double standards. Humanium for example also points out that “to compare, the bloodiest war in the History of Humanity, World War II, reported a death toll of more than 60 million dead which, spread over 6 years, represents more than 10 million deaths per year. At that time, more than 20 million children died each year. So, the child mortality has been comparatively more deadly than the most terrible war of Humanity.”
“Let us be the ones who say we do not accept that a child dies every three seconds simply because he does not have the drugs you and I have. Let us be the ones to say we are not satisfied that your place of birth determines your right for life. Let us be outraged, let us be loud, let us be bold.”
“Don’t turn your face away.
Once you’ve seen, you can no longer act like you don’t know.
Open your eyes to the truth. It’s all around you.
Don’t deny what the eyes to your soul have revealed to you.
Now that you know, you cannot feign ignorance.
Now that you’re aware of the problem, you cannot pretend you don’t care.
To be concerned is to be human.
To act is to care.”
William Hanna is a freelance writer with a recently published book the Hiramic Brotherhood of the Third Temple. Sample chapter, other articles, and contact details at: (http://www.hiramicbrotherhood.com/)