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Although the international community has made a series of firm commitments to the children’s survival, development and protection; most of the goals set by international standards-setting instruments and the United Nations efforts remain unfulfilled.

A great majority of the children in the developing countries as per UNICEF’s The State of the World’s Children, 2006 report remains either excluded or invisible. The excluded children are the un-reached or hard-to-reach children; who are impoverished, abandoned, uneducated, malnourished, neglected and vulnerable; and who face multiple discriminations on the basis of gender, caste, place of residence; (belonging to slum or remote rural/backward areas), disability or belonging to an indigenous group (tribal/and folk community) or children effected by HIV/AIDS. These children lack a formal identity and suffer child protection abuses and are not treated as children.

The invisible children are at the other extreme. They in effect disappear from being viewed within their families, communities and societies. They are also not viewed by the government, civil society, the media and even the other children; lack formal identification; and are without parental care, State protection or societal support. Such children include orphans, slum children, displaced children, migrant children, children in detention, children engaged in hazardous labour as well as trafficked and indentured children. Exclusion and invisibility of children overlap and intertwine, each aggravating the negative impact on the other. While invisible children are largely excluded, some excluded children are also invisible.

The exclusion and invisibility severely affect the growth of the children and make them absolutely vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation. Exclusion from the essential services and goods such as adequate food, health care, school facilities; affect the children’s ability to participate in the communities and societies, both in the present and the future. The rights violation, particularly child protection abuses and neglect of children living outside the family environment, is almost total.

The international commitments for the children’s survival, development and protection got their fullest and far-reaching manifestations in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) 1989, which is the most comprehensive and widely endorsed children’s human rights treaty in history. The legal obligations set by the (CRC) got concrete manifestations in the 1990 World Summit for Children (WSC). It has been widely acknowledged that the Plan of Actions set by the WSC remain mostly unfulfilled, largely because of inadequacy in the exclusivity of the focus on the child as well as the resource constraints to meet the goals. These plans, however, were reaffirmed and rejuvenated by the commitments made at the Millennium Summit held in September 2000, wherefrom the Millennium Deceleration and subsequently the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) emerged and at the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children in May 2002, which resulted in the outcome documents, “A World Fit for Children”. These two landmarks together constituted a Millennium Agenda for ensuring child development in the initial years of the 21st century.

The organisation has been adapting and replicating the international commitments and obligations for the children’s survival, development and protection at the national, regional, and local levels as well as participating in and contributing to the programme and policy interventions as part of the fullest physical, physiological, cognitive, spiritual, social and cultural development of the children.

The Organization recognizes the fact that the efforts for child development have to be multi-pronged and massive. The excluded and the invisible children face exclusion and a denial of the essential services and basic facilities as well as minimum- needed human rights. IISD’s activities focus on providing inclusion and visibility to the unreached and hard-to-reach groups of children by providing them with equal opportunities.

These activities include;

  • Improved access to quality free and flexible non-formal primary education;
  • Provision for early childhood education and care;
  • Promotion of gender equality and empowerment of the girl child;
  • Reduction in infant and child mortality;
  • Improvement in martial health;
  • Combating HIV/AIDS among the children;
  • Providing minimally-needed healthy residential environment, including safe drinking water and sanitation;
  • Providing nutritional support or supplementary feeding;
  • Strengthening the capacities  of the families and communities  to provide care and  protection for children;
  • Making available the basic social services to all children without discrimination;
  • Protection from violence, abuse, exploitation and discrimination in all its forms and manifestations ;
  • Preventing and prohibiting child labour, particularly the worst forms of child labour;
  • Elimination of trafficking and sexual exploitation;
  • Making the children aware of their rights and encouraging them to express themselves;
  • Imparting vital life skills to the children to look forward to an appropriate and sustainable livelihood as well as to protect themselves from abuse and exploitation;
  •  Working towards the convictions of the perpetrators of crimes against children and elimination of criminalization of the child victims;
  • Bringing an attitudinal change in the families, communities, civil society, government and media on the prejudices and beliefs on the children’s human rights in order to emphasis on the absolute need for creating a world fit for children as the future parents, citizens and development agents of the future;
  • Campaigning for the rejuvenating of the governmental social sector policies and greater budgetary support targeting the excluded and invisible children the most; and
  • Participating in policy efforts at the national and international levels for strengthening children’s rights and protection.

IISD’s programmes of action for the children’s survival, protection and development underline the close linkage and dependence of sustainable human development with/ on child development as well as centrality of the need to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger to attend these overriding goals.   

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