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On 22 February 2016, the EU and UNICEF launched a joint Child Rights Toolkit in Armenia. The launch was marked by a two-day expert training course on best practices to integrate children’s rights in all aspects of political reform and economic development government, civil society, development partners and private sector experts. The Head of the EU Delegation, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, three ministers of the Government of Armenia, and UNICEF’s country representative in Armenia expressed strong support to implementation of the EU-UNICEF toolkit.
ARS_6293Ambassador Świtalski stressed the human rights aspects of children’s rights: ‘The joint EU-UNICEF Child Rights Toolkit is a testimony that child rights are very important for the EU here in Armenia. We are committed to help the Armenian government, civil society, and public institutions to make further progress in advancing child rights. No meeting about child rights can pass without mentioning Janusz Korczak, a person whom I truly admire for his insights, dedication and forward thinking on the care and rights of children. He once said that there are no children – only people, but people with different experiences, different drives and reactions. This toolkit is about simple things: how to provide children with the healthcare they need, how to prevent them from going hungry or becoming malnourished, how to reduce family violence, how to give them a good education and a better start in life. This toolkit is also about building awareness, which is very important. As part of the new EU human rights budget support we will also focus on strengthening the laws and institutions. Let’s use this event and discuss not only how to raise awareness, but also how to strengthen laws in Armenia and how to build stronger institutions to advance child rights – including independent ones like the Ombudsman’s institution. The experience of other countries shows that strong laws are central to promoting human rights’.
The Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Artem Asatryan, talked about the importance of cooperation between different institutions: ‘There should be inter-agency cooperation on child protection. Last year, the government approved the decision of the Interdepartmental Regulation; however, for implementation there should be guidelines and toolkits to allow social workers, doctors, teachers, NGOs and community representatives to inform relevant institutions about concrete cases and ensure that no child is left alone’.
The launch of the EU-UNICEF Child Rights Toolkit in Armenia and the expert training is also a good way to ensure that Armenia ensures the child protection and development aspirations agreed within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The UNICEF representative in Armenia, Tanja Radocaj, said that, whether intended or not, every policy or reform programme positively or negatively affects the lives of children: ‘Through this toolkit and expert training we aim to support national development experts in their everyday work, so that they can make informed and strategic decisions that will make a positive difference in the lives of children, especially the most vulnerable’.
ARS_6252Arpine Hovhanisyan, Armenian Minister of Justice, welcomed all participants that had united to improve the future for children in Armenia: ‘This event shows that all of us know that the future of the countries and the world in general are children: their physical and mental development; their short and long term rights. On behalf of my ministry I can tell you that we have a very important mission to take forward on this issue and, taking into consideration our cooperation with the EU, I want to stress that the child rights is one of the most important issues in the budget support which we signed last year’.
The two-day training course will provide national development experts with practical guidance on how to develop rights-based, child- and youth-focused policies and change the daily lives of Armenian children.