Fifth Islamic Conference of Ministers in Charge of Childhood issues Rabat Declaration and declares compliance with its guidelines
The Islamic Conference of Ministers in Charge of Childhood concluded its fifth session today at ISESCO headquarters in Rabat, capital city of the Kingdom of Morocco, with the adoption of the Rabat Declaration titled: “Towards protecting the Muslim world children from violence”.
The Declaration affirmed the determination of the Conference participants to invigorate international commitments through ratification, if not done yet, of the Covenant on the Rights of the Child in Islam, the Optional Protocols to the Convention of the Rights of the Child, and all the relevant international and regional human rights instruments that provide protection to children, namely the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment or Treatment and its optimal protocol; the respective Conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO) No. 138 on the Minimum Working Age, and No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor; the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its supplementing Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
The Declaration also emphasized on enhancing national measures related to child protection through developing national strategies and action plans focused on countering all forms of violence against children; addressing its underlying causes; allocating adequate resources to deal with risk factors, and protect from and prevent violence; and taking these causes into account when drafting socioeconomic policies that tackle poverty, inequality, and social disparities.
In the same vein, the Declaration called for striving to ban all forms of violence against children, including corporal punishment; harmful traditional practices; and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment in all settings, be it in the family, the educational, care, judicial or correctional institutions, workplaces or local communities. It further demanded to take into account gender issues when devising and implementing anti-violence policies and programmes to address the dangers of indiscriminate violence facing boys and girls.
In addition, the Declaration highlighted the importance of raising awareness of child rights and non-violence culture through developing curricula and educational programmes, organizing public information campaigns to sensitize the public, including children themselves, about the harmful effects of violence on children; and encouraging the media, new ICTs, and civil society organizations to spread child rights culture and promote non-violence values and culture.
Moreover, the Declaration recommended ensuring the wide participation of and for children by respecting their views in all issues pertaining to their rights, to protecting them from and preventing violence against them, as well as to countering and monitoring this social ill; supporting and encouraging children’s organizations and child-led initiatives to address violence against them; promoting partnership with families, educational institutions, civil society organizations, private sector and relevant international and regional organizations; and striving to foster shared solidarity responsibility and set up community networks and partnerships to monitor all forms of violence and protect children therefrom.
The Declaration also recommended providing social rehabilitation and integration services by extending accessible, child-sensitive and comprehensive social and health services, including pre-hospital and emergency care and legal assistance to children and, where appropriate, their families when violence is detected or disclosed; and designing health, criminal justice, and social services in a way that meets children’s specific needs.
The Declaration called for consolidating and building the capacities of all those working with and for children or families and providing them with initial and in-service training which imparts knowledge and respect for children’s rights, especially in kindergartens and primary schools, in order to prevent, detect and respond to violence against children; and formulating and implementing clear codes of conduct, and standards of practices that cover the prohibition and rejection of all forms of violence.
The Declaration underscored the importance of establishing adequate practical systems and services for reporting violence against children, and striving to establish the systems of the ombudsman, child rights commissioner or child protection officer, pursuant to the Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions (the Paris Principles); and coordinating closely with other agencies dealing with public health and child protection issues.
The Declaration also recommended developing and implementing a methodical system for national data collection, preparing research on violence against children, analyzing them using national indicators based on internationally-agreed standards, and disseminating them to monitor the progress made.
As far as implementation, coordination and follow up are concerned, the Declaration entrusted ISESCO with sustaining action in the field of childhood, in coordination with the OIC General Secretariat; and invited it to follow-up to the implementation of this Declaration with the competent parties in Member States. It also invited ISESCO to enhance its cooperation with UNICEF and other competent institutions for monitoring, protecting and improving the situation of children victims of violence, in coordination with the Member States and the relevant international, Islamic and regional partners.
Furthermore, the Declaration acclaimed the valuable efforts of ISESCO in service of childhood issues in the Islamic world; lauded the programmes and activities the Organization conducted for the benefit of children in Member States; and invited it to sustain such efforts under its action plans and relevant specialized strategies, in accordance with the resolutions, recommendations, and reference documents adopted by the sessions of the Islamic Conference of Ministers in Charge of Childhood.
The Declaration also commended the humanitarian activities and programmes undertaken by the OIC General Secretariat (Department of Humanitarian, Cultural and Social Affairs) towards the advancement of children, particularly those affected by natural disasters, abuse and conflicts, and orphans, by providing food, shelter, education and other necessary services. It also invited the OIC General Secretariat and ISESCO General Directorate to submit this Declaration along with the Conference’s resolutions to the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers and to the Islamic Summit Conference, and disseminate them to the relevant Arab, Islamic and international organizations.
In conclusion, the Conference participants thanked the Kingdom of Morocco, as represented by the Ministry of Family, Solidarity, Equality and Social Development, for providing the necessary means and facilitations to hold the 5th Islamic Conference of Ministers in Charge of Childhood in the best of conditions; and expressed their gratitude for His Majesty, King Mohammed VI, for his patronage to the Conference and the kind hospitality accorded to them.