The Association for the Rights of Children in Southeast Asia (ARCSEA) joins children, parents, child-rights advocates and the rest of the Southeast Asian community in commemorating the Declaration on the Rights of Children in ASEAN which was signed on August 2, 2001.
ARCSEA recognizes that since the declaration, member states have made important commitments in advancing the rights and welfare of children, including the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Convention on the Elimination of Violence against Women (CEDAW), and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has also recognized and reaffirmed the efforts of member States towards advancing children rights in various instruments, policies, and documents such as the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Elimination of Violence Against Children in ASEAN (2013) and the ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on Elimination of Violence Against Children (2016).
While these, along with local laws and policies of Southeast Asian States are significant steps in protecting our children and their rights and has resulted in positive improvements in various areas such as health and education, there is still a lot more that needs to be done.
According to the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), “in terms of multidimensional child poverty, it is conservatively estimated that nearly 25 million children in the region are multidimensionally deprived; the percentage of children who are only income deprived is likely to be far higher.”
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children is among the biggest challenges that the region faces in achieving its goals with regard to children its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets.
According to an ASEAN Policy Brief, around 140 million children have suffered unprecedented education and learning disruptions because of the pandemic. For the past 18 months, schools have been closed for an average of 136 days and this may have “irreversible impacts on the lives of children and adolescents… especially for populations that were already vulnerable, if further strategies and actions are not implemented.
As we move closer toward the deadline for the achievement of the SDGs in 2030, the task of ensuring that the goals that pertain to the rights and welfare of children are met becomes even more urgent, especially in light of the threat of the return of openly authoritarian regimes across the region.
We take special notice of the recent executions of political opponents of the ruling military junta in Myanmar and join the rest of the Southeast Asian community and the world in condemning the continued use of threats and actual violence and human rights violations for political repression.
Only in a society where human rights and democracy are freely enjoyed by all can children realize their full potential.