To protect children's rights and improve their well-being UNICEF works with governments, other UN agencies, non-governmental organisations, communities, families and children themselves. In carrying out its mission, UNICEF supports programmes in 162 countries, areas and territories through 8 regional offices and 126 country offices. The 37 National Committees based in industrialised countries raise funds and spread awareness about the organization's mission and work.
UNICEF derives its income from voluntary contributions. These come from two main sources: governmental and intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental/private sector groups and individuals.
Guiding Principles of UNICEF
UNICEF is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children’s rights. In its work UNICEF is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which was adopted in 1989 and has become the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history.
It comprises 54 articles related to child development, protection, survival and participation. UNICEF insists that these are universal developmental imperatives integral to human progress. UNICEF is non-partisan and its cooperation is free of discrimination. In everything it does, the most disadvantaged children and the countries in greatest need have priorities.
UNICEF began its first programmes in FYR Macedonia in 1992 and opened its office in Skopje in 1993. Today, UNICEF has more than 30 projects in child protection, early childhood development, education and youth.
UNICEF strategies in FYR Macedonia
• Improving quality and access to services for children and women
• Advocating for policy and legislative reform
• Focussing on the most vulnerable children
• Ensuring the participation of those benefiting from UNICEF support in the development and implementation of projects
• Developing capacity of local institutions for sustainability
• Monitoring and conducting research and evaluations
UNICEF projects are designed and implemented to support national structures and policies. UNICEF works closely with government ministries and institutions, with 48 national NGOs, several international NGOs and UN agencies present in the country.
Key government partners include the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, Ministry for Local Self-Government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Institutes of Mother and Child Health, Social Activities and Public Health.
UNICEF Programmes in FYR Macedonia
The overall goal of UNICEF programme is realisation of children’s rights in the country. This is addressed through a lifecycle approach with four main components: early childhood, education and youth development; child protection; and advocacy and social mobilization.
The Early Childhood programme supports improved ante-natal care and delivery practices, outreach nursing services, maintaining of the baby-friendly status of all maternity units in the country and continued support for provision of vaccines. UNICEF’s assistance to Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI) is in line with the government target for self-sufficiency in vaccines by 2005. One of the key initiatives is the non-formal pre-school education for children under-five - “Lifestart” project.
In FYR Macedonia almost 90% of children don’t have an access to formal pre-school education. In 1997 UNICEF started with alternative provision of early learning and stimulation to a pilot group of families. The Lifestart project supports parents with better parenting skills and self-esteem but also community cohesion. Through training of volunteers from Women NGOs’ network, early childhood project expanded and in 2002 incorporated 650 communities.
Access and Quality Education for All
UNICEF aims to improve the quality of, and access to, education for all children, focusing especially on vulnerable groups, including the economically deprived, displaced and refugee children. Key initiatives include the incorporation of Inter-Active Learning methods into all primary schools, the introduction of principles of peace and tolerance into school lessons, the inclusion of children with disabilities into mainstream schools, and provision of basic and functional literacy classes for disadvantaged women and children.
UNICEF continues to coordinate education activities for Kosovar refugee children living in collective centres or in host families.
In 2002 UNICEF Skopje joined the “Right to Know” global initiative which aims to actively involve young people in the development and design of communication activities of HIV/AIDS prevention. The project includes training of young people on Participatory Action Research and on theatre, photography, website development and art.
Protection for the Most Vulnerable
This programme monitors children’s rights, develops community services and provides psychosocial support for children with disabilities, children who are abused or neglected, children who are at risk of or left without parental care, refugee children, and juvenile delinquents. Projects include finding alternative care for children living in public institutions and support to families with disabled children; assisting street children and supporting review and change in legislation within the juvenile justice system.
UNICEF advocates for alternative measures for institutionalized children such as day-care centers, fostering and adoption. UNICEF’s support to an expert team from Skopje University which worked with children with disabilities lodged in Demir Kapija Special Institute produced encouraging results. Children involved in this project achieved remarkable results in development and learning and 23 were taken out from the Institute and placed in foster families. The project continues with new group of children from Demir Kapija.
UNICEF is working with other international agencies on revision to policy and legislation that would provide special protection measures for child victims of trafficking in FYR Macedonia. The potential victims of trafficking will be addressed through information campaigns and awareness raising activities.
UNICEF activities in FYR Macedonia
• UNICEF implements Early Childhood programme in more than 600 communities in all municipalities
• 28 out of 29 maternity wards and facilities are renovated and certified as "baby-friendly"
• UNICEF supports nearly 100 Mother Support Groups as well as childbirth education classes in three major cities covering 25% of all pregnant women
• The outreach nursing system is renovated in half the country
Education and Youth
• UNICEF works on development of inclusive practices in the mainstream schools for children with special learning needs – so far inclusion is offered in 75 schools and 12 Kindergartens
• UNICEF continues to support Inter-Active Learning (IAL) project in 330 schools where all teachers are trained and 5 IAL regional centres are established
• Kindergarten teachers receive training in the Convention on the Rights of the Child
• Functional literacy project is covering women and girls with over 1,000 functionally literate as a result of the project
• • To prevent HIV/AIDS epidemic UNICEF supports the country's first HIV/AIDS telephone help-line and counselling service.
• Young people receive training on theatre, photography, website development, music and art and conduct research on knowledge, attitude and behaviour of their peers related to HIV/AIDS.
• UNICEF supports child rights promotion through training of the Ombudsperson for Children and 29 NGO representatives as child rights trainers
• To provide alternatives to institutional care for children with special needs UNICEF works on de-institutionalization of children lodged in Demir Kapija Special Institute, promotion of fostering and opening of • UNICEF supports the development of a new national plan for juvenile justice
• To provide special protection measures for child victims of trafficking in FYR Macedonia UNICEF is working on revision to policy and legislation.
The protection of children means all activities aimed at ensuring respect and fulfillment of their rights as expressed in the CRC, in other international human rights instruments and international humanitarian law. Responsibility for ensuring such protection belongs to those with control and influence over children -- first and foremost the governments, de facto authorities and other institutions or organizations, as well as their families and communities.
Specific sets of articles in the CRC stipulate that children are "to be protected from" abuses, including violence and economic or sexual exploitation, and that children are "to be provided with" services such as rehabilitative care from effects of exploitation, abuse or armed conflict, along with special entitlements in cases where children are separated from their families or when families fail in their responsibilities.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child introduced the concept of "special protection measures" recognizing that children are particularly vulnerable in situations such as war, violence, abuse, separation from family, disability and detention.
It is on the basis of this concept that the Executive Board established in 1996 a new policy to guide UNICEF’s action on behalf of children in need of special protection measures (for further details refer to "A Review of UNICEF Policies and Strategies on Child Protection", document E/ICEF/1996/14 of 04 August 1996, and Children in Need of Special Protection Measures: Report on Steps for Policy Implementation", document E/ICEF/1997/16 of 25 March 1997). The policy moves beyond the categorization of the children, to a focus on a proper assessment and analysis of their situation so as to be able to address that situation as a whole.
Over the past few years, UNICEF has implemented a rights-based approach to programming. This approach is an effort to give more weight to the CRC and CEDAW as the organization’s guiding frames of reference. In terms of how the organization approaches the situation of children, it has been and continues to be a rather dramatic change, in that UNICEF traditionally has mainly addressed children’s economic and social rights, paying very little attention to the protection of civil and political rights. With the CRC, the mandate of the organization has been broadened to cover all matters in relation to children’s rights.
The programme implication of the protection policy is the identification and assessment of potentially harmful situations in which children are found and to design appropriate basic services as well as providing special protection measures for those children identified as being at risk.
The policy highlights six common and widespread set of circumstances, often interrelated and overlapping, which put millions of children in severe jeopardy:
(a) Harmful and disabling child labor;
The policy outlines a two-pronged strategy for addressing the situation of severely disadvantaged children, namely to:
1. provide appropriate social services across all the sectors to reach and support children at risk; and to
2. put in place targeted initiatives to reach disadvantaged children who are discriminated against, missed by or left out of mainstream programmes.
This two-pronged strategy is to be applied in country programmes of cooperation through preventive measures as part of the mainstream social sector programmes such as education and health, to reach those at risk of falling into situations of special disadvantage; as well as special protection measures for compensation and recovery for children already exposed to situations that harm their development and who require support.
In order for UNICEF to fulfill its obligation and mandate in relation to Article 38 of the CRC, which deals specifically with children in situations of armed conflict, the organization must ensure that protection activities are part of humanitarian assistance programmes. Article 38 specifies that "States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure the protection and care of children who are affected by an armed conflict", and it thus emphasizes this two-fold understanding of humanitarian action.
In this context, protection will essentially have two principal objectives:
Following is a list of four points of action, through which the protection of children in emergency situations can be best achieved. In doing so, the particular needs and rights of girls and boys must be taken into account and gender-sensitive initiatives and programmes developed that address these.
The provision of social services and welfare care. In conflict situations, no less than in times of peace, children have rights to basic services and require access to health care, education, recreation, physical and psychological rehabilitation and social integration. Education in particular plays a key role. In specific circumstances, this can be achieved through the creation of periods of tranquility and safe corridors in conflict zones.
The strengthening of institutions most likely to provide a caring, protective environment for children, in particular the immediate family. Priority will be given to measures strengthening the family and ensuring the child is helped to remain with the family and the family and other community-level institutions are strengthened to care and protect for the child.
The promotion of laws and values that embody respect for children and their rights, including dissemination of appropriate conventions and principles. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, particularly Articles 19-23 and 32-40, and the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 provide internationally accepted principles for the protection of children in conflict situations. Children themselves are important actors in both designing and carrying out dissemination activities.
The creation of circumstances which specifically protect children and allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid, or remove them from potentially dangerous or exploitative environments. The creation of safe havens and corridors of tranquility, or removing children from adult prisons and conditions of danger or possible abuse, the demobilization and reintegration of boys and girls recruited by the military, become important activities to ensure the well being of children.
Promoting the rights of the child together
Many national SOS Children's Village associations
participate in the "Global Movement for Children" and the "Say Yes to Children"
campaign, initiatives created by UNICEF and several NGOs to raise awareness
of child rights and involve children.
National SOS Children's Village
associations are actively committed to promoting the rights of the child,
for example in Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Pakistan, Russia, South
Africa or Zambia. With governments, UN partners and other NGOs, they take part
in national child rights councils or committees, participate in law reform
commissions, ad-hoc bodies or the drawing up of national action plans.
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