Montenegro celebrates the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Cetinje, Montenegro, 25 November 2014

By accepting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Montenegro and 192 UN member states committed to have child rights among the top priorities. The celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Convention in the historic capital of Cetinje started with young people’s speeches on the situation of children in Montenegro. Schoolboy David Pantovic said that through the implementation of the Convention in Montenegro a significant progress has been achieved in the protection and promotion of child rights.

"The Convention served as a means and as a goal for raising awareness of the importance to respect the personality of each child, as well as his/her traits and needs. Some of us learned to respect differences - that we are all equal, regardless of gender, skin color, religion or nation. We now share school benches with children with disabilities, with Roma children, and we are all equally doing well. Some have not learned these lessons yet and more work is needed with them,” David said.

His peer, Iva Vujisic, spoke about the rights and needs of children with disabilities in Montenegro. "We all have the right to freedom, to life, to dignity. We have the right to dream and to fulfill our dreams. I do not know what it was like 25 years ago, because I am much younger that that. But I do know that things have improved in the last 8 years. Many of my friends, children with disabilities, complain about being discriminated against, particularly those who attend a mainstream school. I do not have such a problem. I am going to a regular school, I am an excellent pupil, and most importantly, I have friends who love me a lot and who like to hang out with me," Iva said.

UNICEF and Montenegrin officials promised to continue with their commitment and work to ensure that all children enjoy equal rights and opportunities. “Here, in the royal capital of Cetinje, on this solemn occasion, Montenegro expresses high respect for the Convention, as well as for the valuable achievements in its application. Montenegro has achieved a lot through the implementation of this Convention. Nevertheless, one must point out to the flaws in the health care of mothers and infants identified in the common report of the Ministry of Health and UNICEF, and their recommendations should be implemented fully and without delay,” pointed out the President of Montenegro, Filip Vujanovic, at the event in Cetinje.

Significant progress has been achieved in many areas in Montenegro in the last quarter of the century. The infant mortality rate has dropped by almost 3 times, almost all children 3 to 6 years old are developmentally on track and there has been a significant increase in the percentage of these children attending preschool education. Montenegro celebrates the 25th anniversary of the UN CRC. However, in Montenegro, as worldwide, there are still areas in which further work is needed. It is necessary to continue improving the quality of education, health and social care for all children and their families.

"Systems are now in place to protect children from violence, neglect, exploitation and abuse, and also to promote survival, family life, quality, inclusive education and protection from violence and abuse. In particular, over next couple of years the priorities will be to support the governments in expanding crucial early childhood education for children from 3 to 6. At the moment, the coverage rates are improved, but still quite low, or 40 percent. We now have a target of ninety percent coverage of early childhood education by 2020. This is a massive commitment that will fundamentally improve the situation of child development in the country," stated Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Representative in Montenegro. The celebration ended with a dance performed by young people with and without disabilities on a UNICEF anthem composed for the UN CRC anniversary.