A day to promote awareness among children worldwide, improve their welfare, and protect them from drugs, whether licit or not
Opinion, by Cressida de Witte – November 20th is a special day since it is the official World Children’s Day since 1954. On this date, back in 1959, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Thirty years later, on the exact same date, the Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted.
About the World Federation against Drugs: WFAD is a multilateral community of non-governmental organisations and individuals. According to WFAD, illicit drug use is undercutting traditional values and threatening the existence of stable families, communities, and government institutions throughout the world. Their aim is to work for a drug-free world.
Children are persons
We believe that the Convention on the Rights of the Child is of immense importance to the WFAD. The world’s most widely ratified human rights treaty in history contains a simple and profound idea: that children are not just objects who belong to their parents, or adults in training. Rather, they are human beings and individuals with their own rights. The Convention has inspired governments to change laws and policies and make investments so that more children have what they need to survive and thrive.
Protecting them from drugs is a necessary part of this commitment, and Article 33 specifically addresses this issue: “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances”.
It is essential to protect them from drugs
WFAD firmly believes this article remains of critical importance. Children and adolescents worldwide are still facing the consequences of substance abuse and addiction, whether they use drugs themselves or are impacted by drug-abusing parents, siblings or peers. According to the World Drug Report (UNODC 2020), while drug use around the world is on the rise, adolescents and young adults account for the largest share of those using drugs.
At the WFAD, we believe that it is our duty, as civil society organizations, to protect children and adolescents from the harms of licit and illicit drugs through awareness and prevention activities. We are proud of all the good work that is being accomplished by our members.
The One Choice initiative
In order to fulfil this goal, WFAD is promoting ‘One Choice’, an initiative dedicated to promote and support abstinence from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs under 21 years, with an aim to nurture the development of children, adolescents and young adults in drug free environments.
One Choice is a societal message about the dangers of drug use and the need for young people to grow up drug free. It is also critical to address the current global trend that tends to a normalization of substance use.
By focussing our efforts on drug prevention at an early age, we make sure that fewer people will develop substance use disorders later in life while providing healthy and save environments for children and youth to grow in.
Advocating children’s rights in Nepal
We’d also like to highlight the accomplishments of another of our member organizations: CWIN Nepal is an NGO working as an advocate for children’s rights. The organization is dedicated to protecting children, promoting their rights, and addressing all forms of children’s exploitation. In addition it also endeavours to empower these children. As Sumnima Tuladhar, director of CWIN, puts it: “by empowering boys and girls, they become their own protectionists”.
CWIN addresses a range of issues, including child labour exploitation, abandonment and neglect, sexual exploitation, lack of access to quality education and training, lack of access to quality healthcare, including mental healthcare, trafficking, and online child abuse.
Providing innovative support during COVID-19
More than that, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization is finding new ways to give children the protection they need. For example, their Child Helpline is still providing responses in such fields as emergency relief, social integration, and intervention against child marriages. In addition, CWIN Nepal organized an online event where 270 girls from all 77 districts in Nepal could meet and discuss their struggles in coping with pandemic-related problems.
Incorporating children’s rights in gender sensitive, evidence-based prevention activities are critical to strengthen children’s and adolescents’ individual and environmental protective factors.
By doing so, we have a better chance to help them grow safer, healthier, and free from substance abuse. Protecting children from the harms of illicit drugs remains an important task for all of us, every day, which we are reminded of on this particular day.