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Switzerland urged to do more to respect rights of children

This weekend, the UN Convention on the rights of the child will be ten years old. To mark the event, a coalition of children’s rights groups have issued a report on the situation in Switzerland – and it seems there remains a great deal to do.

This content was published on November 19, 1999 - 17:18

This weekend, the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child will be ten years old. To mark the event, a coalition of children’s rights groups have issued a report on the situation in Switzerland – and it seems there remains a great deal to do.

There are a wide range of events taking place to mark the anniversary. As 200 young people continue their youth parliament at the House of Representatives in Berne, over 2,000 others will be going out to work as street children for the day, in a day of action organised by Terre des Hommes.

The Foreign Ministry is also organising an exhibition of photographs, entitled “Lost Childhood”, depicting child soldiers and the victims of war.

Switzerland was one of the last countries to recognise the rights of children – it only signed the UN convention two and a half years ago. And the situation is still far from ideal, according to a number of Swiss groups lobbying for children’s rights.

The organisations involved in the report include Pro Familia, Pro Juventute, the Association for the Protection of the Child, the Pestalozzi Children’s Villages Foundation and the Swiss branch of UNICEF.

They say child care facilities in Switzerland are inadequate, and have called for an extra 100,000 crèche places to be created. They also say that many families are unable to provide a decent standard of living and education for their children.

The groups have demanded that the federal government take more vigorous measures to make sure that the rights of the young are respected.

After ratifying the convention, the Swiss government promised to provide the UN with a report on how it was fulfilling certain fundamental rights. This report is still not ready, and the Foreign Ministry has delayed its publication until January 30th.

The ministry says it has taken advantage of the report to take a systematic look at how well the convention was being observed in Switzerland, particularly the question of whether boys and girls enjoy equal opportunities in education and training.


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