Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has said that nations must work together to end the institutional care of children and reform protection services to ensure: “every child is safe, protected and able to reach their full potential.
She made these remarks during a roundtable meeting of government officials, stakeholders and experts recently
“More than five million children around the world still live in institutions. Most of these children are not orphans – around 80% of them have at least one living parent.
“But their institutionalization disproportionately exposes them to vulnerabilities and marginalization, which can inhibit their development and life chances.
“The truth is that growing up in a family environment is critical to a child’s well-being and development, and every child is entitled to a happy and fulfilling upbringing under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
She added: “This is just one of many areas where the Commonwealth can make a real difference.
The meeting was held to discuss the implementation of the Kigali Declaration on Child Care and Protection Reform – one of the four declarations unanimously agreed upon by Commonwealth Heads of Government in Rwanda last June.
The Declaration is a historic agreement among Commonwealth countries that focuses on ensuring and restoring the rights of children following the COVID-19 pandemic, paying particular attention to the most marginalised and excluded.
“We can all work together to prioritise support for, investment in, and reform of childcare and protection services – to enable children to live without abuse or discrimination of any kind; to enjoy their civil, political, social and cultural rights; and to flourish as equal, valued and productive human beings.
“We cannot afford to fail our children, so we must give their wellbeing the priority it deserves – and act together to ensure that every child in Commonwealth is safe, protected and able to reach their full potential.”
The far-reaching Declaration recognises that child protection and safeguarding are cross-cutting issues that have strong links to the Commonwealth Secretariat’s work on youth, disability, health, education and early childhood development.
The roundtable meeting was also set to build a consensus on a focus for the effective implementation of the Declaration and to agree on collabroation between Commonwealth governments and civil society organisations, with the support of the Commonwealth Secretariat.