|Guidelines for Children's Participation in HIV/AIDS Programs (The Children and AIDS International Non-Government Organization Network (CAINN)) (UNAIDS, 1999, 29 p.)|
|Why Children and Young People Should Participate|
|Meeting the Challenge|
|Ways Children and Young People Can Participate|
|Doing It Better|
|Annex - The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: Participation and the World AIDS Campaign|
|Children and AIDS International NGO Network (CAINN)|
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is a set of universal principles set up for the protection and development of children. It is the most widely accepted instrument of human rights law, with at its core, respect for the dignity of children and is intent on the affirmation of the child as a person in his/her own right. The key principles are a child's rights to:
2. Survival and development
3. Protection and non-discrimination
The right to participate
The Convention on the Rights of the Child has at it's core the principal of child participation as a right, while at the same time recognizing the difficulties inherent in implementing these rights. The Convention notes there are risks to be dealt with, such as the deliberate or misguided exploitation of children for purposes that do not serve their best interests. Children and young people should have the right to be involved in all decisions concerning them (Article 12), to freedom of expression (Article 13), freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Article 14), and to freedom of association (Article 15). In terms of their right to participate, it is essential that children have the right to privacy (Article 16) and access to information (Article 17).
The right to survive and to develop
These rights cover all those aspects which children require in order to reach their full potential from education and play, to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Children have a right to information and opportunities to develop life skills, and children should have access to HIV prevention education, the means to protect themselves from the impact of HIV, and the skills to negotiate safer sex practices and therefore be protected from infection.
Our responsibility in this regard extends to respecting the rights of children to information, education and services, as well as to paying attention to the circumstances that make them especially vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. If the Convention is understood and implemented, it can provide the backbone for reducing children's vulnerability to HIV infection and preventing the relentless spread of the epidemic.
The right to protection and nondiscrimination
Article 2 states that children have a right to be protected from discrimination and exploitation irrespective of their HIV status or that of their family members. Children should not experience discrimination because of their HIV status - in education, leisure, or cultural activities. Children have a right to access health and social services on an equitable basis, irrespective of their HIV status or that of members of their families. All infected children should be provided with adequate HIV treatment and care. Attention must be paid to ensure orphans receive adequate support services.
Children living with HIV in the family continue to experience discrimination, exploitation and abuse in the extreme in most countries. Violating children's rights in this way, because of either real or perceived HIV status of the child or his/her family members, adds yet another load to the tremendous burden these children are already carrying. Often it is the attitude of society which dis-empowers, not the illness itself.
Children living in a world with AIDS are vulnerable. If they live in a family where an adult is infected they may experience discrimination because of this, or indeed if they themselves are infected they may experience discrimination through the denial or limitations of their rights to education, health and social services. Children, growing up now, have to live with a lifetime of risk of HIV infection.
Source: UNAIDS (1997) 'Children's Rights in a World with AIDS', World AIDS Day Campaign Information Sheets, Geneva.
Copies of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child are available from UNICEF and UNAIDS offices.