Child rights in crisis

UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein and Pro Juventute, supported by a broad alliance of organizations, published a position paper which not only analyzes the deficits in compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that became apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also presents specific demands based on these findings.

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In cooperation with Pro Juventute, DOJ (the umbrella organization for open work with children and youth in Switzerland), the Child Rights Network Switzerland, IG Sport Switzerland and the Swiss National Youth Council (SAJV), UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein today published a position paper about the current state of child rights. This position paper formulates specific demands aimed at eliminating the deficits in compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that became apparent in Switzerland during the COVID-19 pandemic in particular.

The paper builds on the cooperation between various children’s and youth organizations during the corona pandemic.

The position paper specifically refers to several child rights: the right of every child to protection from all forms of discrimination (Art. 2 CRC), to the highest attainable standard of development and health (Art. 6 and 24 CRC), to be in contact with both parents (Art. 9 CRC), to information and freedom of expression (Art. 13 CRC), to protection (Art. 19, 34 and 37 CRC), to education (Art. 28 and 29 CRC) and to rest and leisure (Art. 31 CRC). Specific measures are needed to ensure the appropriate implementation of these rights of children. These include, among others:

  • the development of concepts for overcoming learning differences arising from school closure or remote teaching;
  • the maintenance of leisure, sport and recreational programs that offer children interaction with their peers and provide the opportunity for relaxation;
  • the introduction of a national program to monitor and collect data about the mental health of children and youth;
  • the introduction of a crisis communication strategy focusing on children and youth that is formulated in age-appropriate language;
  • the participative development of measures and core messages together with children and youth that take account of their concerns;
  • the recognition of differences between children, i.e., children and young people should not be seen to be a homogeneous group;
  • the promotion of compensatory measures for vulnerable groups of children in order to guarantee equal opportunities.

Addressed to federal agencies and intercantonal conferences
The position paper should help the authorities to integrate the perspective of child rights into their pandemic preparedness programs by providing information and by serving as a basis for taking decisions. The paper also submits specific demands to policymakers, i.e., federal agencies and intercantonal conferences: they must give more weight to child rights during future pandemics and also take account of these rights when assessing the consequences of a pandemic.

The rights and requirements of children and youth must be given more attention during future pandemics, at the national level and from the outset, in particular with a view to the effects of certain measures on their mental and social well-being and on equal opportunities. Care should also be taken that the interests and perspectives of children and youth are not manipulated for specific purposes, as was the case during the COVID-19 pandemic by voices critical of the measures. And finally, it is crucial to research the long-term consequences of the measures implemented to protect public health and to take measures where necessary to eliminate the resulting disadvantages.

Contact for media:
Committee for UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein,
Jürg Keim, Media Relations, 044 317 22 41, [email protected]