Youth leadership brings children’s voices to UN child rights reporting

Wednesday 9 October 2019

This is the first time for children, and youth like me, to develop and submit the children’s report to the UN [Committee on the Rights of the Child],” said Sophoeurn, who led the children and youth reporting process. “And also this is the first big achievement of my leadership since I was recruited as the Director of CCYMCR [Cambodia Children and Young People Movement for Child Rights].”

Sophoeurn, 24, is a young woman who first started her career as a volunteer with CCYMCR in 2016; she later successfully applied for a fulltime position in early 2018. Since taking the position, her main responsibility as the director of the children and youth organisation has been to lead the process of the periodic reporting on Cambodia’s progress regarding the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Children and youth are able to write and submit their own reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child during the regular reporting period, which occurs every five years. This was the first time Sophoeurn led this process, and she mentioned some of the challenges she faced with this new task. “It is not easy work for me to lead this report, in terms of the quality of data, child coordination and writing,” explained Sophoeurn. “But I did not give up, I still did what I could.”

With support from Norad, Save the Children and partners have provided a series of capacity building trainings to child and youth groups, including Sophoeurn and CCYMCR. We train them how to ensure the quality of data collection, how to lead and coordinate meetings with large groups, and how to write the children’s alternative report. Norad funding through Save the Children in Cambodia is also the only funding CCYMCR receives to carry out its work.

Sophoeurn led the reporting process with 80 children and youths, and spent around nine months to finalise the report. “With technical support from Save the Children, I led the children and youth to collect information from children and their caregivers in the provinces,” explained Sophoeurn. “We spent a lot of time in data analysis.”

After they completed the research and data collection process, Sophoeurn and the reporting team concluded that children dropping out of school, drug abuse, and violence against children are the main issues facing children in Cambodia. Sophoeurn said, “Through these findings, we [think] thegovernment should increase labor market opportunities; create vocational training for children; strengthen teachers’ and school directors’ [capacity] to pay attention to children who are very poor; and support children in order to have a decent living. [They could] strengthen the awareness raising and implementation of the laws on distribution [of drugs] and drug use, positive parenting, [explain] child protection policies to parents, principals, community leaders, teachers, and vocational training schools. And we suggested to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to strengthen the government and assist in reviewing the implementation of the laws of the government.”

 “We sent the report to UN early July 2019 and we hope that our recommendations will be considered and [put into] action,” explained Sophoeurn with confidence. “I am so proud of leading the children and youth to report on the child rights situation in Cambodia to the UN [CRC].”

Sophoeurn and CCYMCR, along with other child rights-focused youth groups will follow the reporting and review process, and are committed to monitor the implementation of recommendations from the UNCRC in their country.

November 20, 2019 marks 30 years since the adoption of the UNCRC by the UN General Assembly in 1989. The Kingdom of Cambodia ratified the convention in 1992.