Improving children’s access to quality education, participation and protection from exploitation remain among the ASEAN’s top priorities.
At the 3rd ASEAN Children’s Forum held last June 1-5 in Chonburi, Thailand, 27 children and nine youth observers from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, the Republic of Korea and the Philippines expressed their views on strengthening children’s participation.
The forum focused on four principles from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, namely the rights to 1) survival, 2) development, 3) protection and 4) participation.
According to the four-page Statement of the Child Delegates from the Forum, stateless children and those abused in armed conflict are still deprived of claiming their rights.
In terms of development, many children, including those with disability and special needs and those in labor, still lack access to quality education. Meanwhile, they also remain to be victims of different forms of abuse and exploitation.
Participation in children also faces a challenge. “ASEAN children are living in new environments that affect their lifestyle,” the statement said.
“In the modern world, children have been exposed to the new media, such as the Internet and other social networks, which consequently affect their health, relationship with their families and school performance.”
The delegates also discussed the issue of migration among ASEAN countries. “A higher number of children migrate to other countries, falling as victims of trafficking, child labor and other forms of abuse, exploitation and discrimination.”
In response to the issues and risks faced by the children of ASEAN, the delegates were able to come up with the following recommendations:
1. Right to access to quality education for all
2. Right to participation and having children’s voices heard
3. Rights of migrant children
4. Rights of child victims of trafficking
5. Rights to protection from child labor
6. Rights to protection from violence, abuses and exploitation
Three Filipino children joined the ASEAN Children’s delegation–Czieloh Jomea C. Villajin, 15, of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines; Reymart D. Parungao, 17, of Children International-Abot Kamay, Inc.; and Rejie M. Bayos, 12, of the Philippine Association for Children with Developmental and Learning Disabilities, Inc. (PACDLD). They were accompanied by adult mentors from the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC).
The Senior Official Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD), ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), ASEAN Commission for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) and the Committee of ASEAN Youth Cooperation (CAYC) also attended the forum.
Preview the statement here: