Memorandum from World Vision
This Memorandum constitutes the written comments/evidence
of World Vision in response to the Human Rights Annual Report
2001 published by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and to the
request for evidence from the Foreign Affairs Committee (see News
Release 30 November 2001). World Vision does not intend giving
World Vision is a Christian relief and development
agency, which aims to provide the most effective ways of helping
the world's poor build a better future for themselves and their
children. World Vision works in over 50 countries and through
its commitment to long-term development work supports some 154
programmes in four continents.
World vision welcomes the Annual Reports presented
by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in pursuance of its policy
on Human Rights. It sets a clear framework for the work of Her
Majesty's Government in this area and provides useful information
on the activities undertaken. The comments by World Vision will
be restricted to the issues concerning Child Rights (Chapter 8),
Human Rights, Democracy and DiversitySpecial focus on Disability
(Chapter 7) and selected Country Reports.
Chapter 8 provides a good summary of the work
of the Foreign and Commonwealth office ("FCO") in the
area of child rights; however, there is no indication of what
remains to be done, what the next targets should be, nor is there
any honest evaluation of what could have been done better, for
improved practice in the future.
It would also have been good to make more explicit
links between the work of the FCO and DFID, with evidence of how
the two are contributing towards the attainment of the IDTs/Millennium
Goals most pertinent to children and young people.
The structure of the chapter is somewhat ad
hoc and gives a rather disparate account of what the FCO has
engaged in or indeed what the issues facing children are. It omits
serious issues facing children such as those highlighted in the
recent Conference on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of children
held in Yokohama (Stockholm +5). A further structural point relates
to the section on "Child Labour and Education" this
attempts to bring too much under one umbrella, with education
per se in fact receiving very little attention, and with
awareness raising being the main focus. We welcome the focus on
"Children in War" although we believe that it does not
do justice to the issue and more could have been done to at least
highlight the fact that children's involvement in armed conflict
happens in many more regions than just Sierra Leone.
World Vision is also concerned at the tone adopted
by the report in certain sections that we highlight below. The
use of the phrase "made to sit down in a classroom and obey
a teacher" and "Gangs of children" is language
which may be likely to be unacceptable to many readers of the
report and can either stigmatise children or give an impression
of children which is against the spirit of the UN Convention on
the Rights of the Child.
World Vision welcomes the role that the UK Government
is playing in the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children
that has been rescheduled for May 2002. However, the rhetoric
does not match the reality. World Vision notes in particular the
low profile give to this event by the failure to include the Prime
Minister as Head of Delegation when most countries are sending
Heads of Government to this UN Conference. We hope that this decision
will be rethought if indeed the UK Government is serious about
We note that there is no reference to the civil,
political and cultures rights of children alongside the economic
and social rights, nor indeed what steps the FCO are taking to
encourage implementation of those rights. The UN Convention on
the Rights of the Child is unique in this respect as it brings
together both sets of rights in one international convention.
Regrettably, it does not appear to be reflected in this report.
(Page 119, paragraph 3, line 3.)
World Vision believes that the lack of access
to basic services is a major "developmental issue",
which is not highlighted in the report since lack of access to
education and health care are key and are most often the result
of poverty. Further, when talking of poverty we would recommend
that there is also a reference to "inequality" as this
is as much of an issue in certain countries as poverty and the
two are in any case interlinked. (Page 119, paragraph 3, line
As stated before, World Vision views with disappointment
the fact that among the problems the FCO sees tomorrow's children
facing, there is no mention of children who suffer abuse and violence,
including commercial sexual exploitation. This is an important
omission and rather unusual given that the section on "Marginalised
Children" focuses almost exclusively on abuse and violence
(albeit hardly at all on children who are commercially sexually
exploited despite it constituting a subgroup of children suffering
abuse or violence). (Page 119, paragraph 5.)
World Vision would also suggest that children
are not just marginalized on the basis of gender or ethnicity,
and would encourage the importance of highlighting the range of
inequalities faced by them. World Vision welcomes the recommendation
that all policies and programmes need to be child sensitive. One
method of tracking this would be to include a recommendation that
all policies and programmes should include child impact indicators.
(Page 119, paragraph 8, final sentence.)
World Vision's work is primarily focused on
community development and it works with a range of civil society
actors in the countries where it operates. The need to include
local government is crucial and we would encourage this as part
of the collaboration mentioned in the report. (Page 119, paragraph
The choice of "protection, education and
health" as children's fundamental rights seems disparate
and could lead to the false assumption that these rights are the
only rights or the only significant rights. We have already referred
to the omission concerning civil and political rights and would
encourage the FCO to support and consider the implementation of
these rights alongside the ones previously mentioned. (Page 120,
World Vision: while warmly applauds the announced
rise in international aid and welcomes this initiative as a strong
signal to other governments. However, this increase is clearly
insufficient if we consider that even by 2004, we will still be
devoting less than half the proportion of GNP recommended by the
UN to international development aid. World Vision would also welcome
specific targets as to when the FCO and the UK Government anticipates
that it will achieve the UN targets. Furthermore, in the context
of children, aid needs to be targeted to specific child rights
projects if the UK government is to contribute to child rights
in any meaningful way. (Page 120, paragraph 3.)
World Vision welcomes the UK Government's commitment
to ratifying the two Optional Protocols to the UN Convention on
the Rights of the Child. World Vision considers that a time frame
for ratification needs to be set up; the term "as soon as
possible" is somewhat vague and imprecise. We would strongly
urge that these Optional Protocols be ratified without reservations
and that the UK take an active role in encouraging other states
to ratify both Optional Protocols without reservations. World
Vision considers that it would be useful to have a time frame
for completion of the guidelines for the Armed Forces. (Page 120,
paragraphs 5 and 6.)
World Vision welcomes the FCO focus on marginalised
children as much of the FCO's work appears to be targeted towards
this group. However, World Vision is somewhat concerned that the
report may give the impression that marginalised children are
viewed almost exclusively as abused children. There is little
or no mention of many of the other groups of children frequently
marginalised, ie those who suffer the stigma of HIV/AIDS or who
are left as household heads because of the loss of relatives;
children who are marginalised as a result of their ethnicity or
their indigenous origin, or because they are refugees or seeking
asylum; children with disabilities; and the girl child or those
who are marginalised because they are denied access to services
such as health or education. Finally, there is virtually no mention
of children who are commercially sexually exploited and/or trafficked
despite such action against children rendering them among the
most marginalised in virtually every society.
Given the above, World Vision finds the summary
of what constitutes "maltreatment" somewhat limited.
We would expect to see issues such as, abuse, sexual and economic
exploitation and lack of access to basic services such as education
and health, included within this definition. In addition types
of abuse can also include a lack of opportunity since abuses such
as lack of access to education have more to do with a child being
denied a given opportunity than with "abuse" in its
more conventional form, ie deliberate maltreatment of a child.
With regard to the study involving children
in rural China, it is not clear how the report will lead to improved
rights for marginalised children in China, and much less so how
these learnings will be disseminated more widely. World Vision's
experience in other countries indicates that alongside regulatory
remedies, a sustained effort to engage communities with child
rights issues is needed so that they can themselves see the value
of laws and regulations.
World Vision notes that the report seems to
be referring to "children who live on the streets".
We recommend that a distinction needs to be made between this
small sub-group, and the larger group of children who work on
the streets. The former often work as well as live on the streets
whereas the latter almost always return to some sort of home after
work. Though the UN has not historically employed this distinction,
it is a necessary one as they are quite distinct groups.
World Vision would welcome further details on
what the work with "Central and East European police forces"
involves. (Page 122.)
World Vision notes with concern the language
adopted in this part of the report. Phrases such as "the
chance to behave", "youngsters" can come across
as either counter to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
or even patronising to young people and could be misinterpreted.
Children in War
World Vision believes that the UK Government
needs to do more to reduce arms exports, including small arms,
which often end up in the hands of children, and to impose more
severe punishments on those who smuggle arms.
World Vision is concerned and objects to the
language adopted in the report concerning the notion of punishing
children involved in conflict without there being wider debate
on this issue. World Vision has worked with children who have
experienced conflict first hand and have been child soldiers.
Our experience shows that they already suffer severe recrimination
upon their return to their communities and any talk of punishment
in an FCO publication could lead to intensifying further the pain
that such children already suffer. We strongly recommend that
initially there needs to be a strong focus on psychological rehabilitation
and social reintegration. We strongly object to the sentences
such as "It is perhaps understandable that they demand retribution".
Instead we would emphasise the very valid point that "Child
soldiers have [ . . . ] the right not to be forced to fight"
this remains the key issue.
What is not clear from the report is what steps
have been or are being taken to ensure that the rights of children
who may be part of the process are protected and guaranteed.
World Vision notes with some concern the omission
of practices similar to slavery, such as the sale or trafficking
of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory
labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children
for use in armed conflict; the use, procuring or offering of a
child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for
pornographic performances", as explicitly mentioned in ILO
Convention 182, article 3(a) and (b). We draw special attention
to the inclusion of children who are commercially sexually exploited
and also the inclusion of compulsory recruitment of children
into armed conflict, which can include conscription, as one of
the worst forms of child labour.
World Vision would welcome a report as to what
the task force hopes to establish in relation to the use of child
labour in the cocoa and chocolate industry. (Paragraph 124, paragraph
World Vision welcomes the scope of the report
in that it refers to the fact that Child Labour is common in Africa.
We assume that this reference is to balance the view that child
labour is predominantly an issue for Asia. We would welcome clarification
of this to ensure that no incorrect assumptions are made that
it exists solely or predominantly in this region of the world.
World Vision is concerned that the reference
to work by children in night markets is referred to as "light
work". In our view, work in night markets is not light work,
especially given that it disrupts children's sleep and thus is
likely to severely affect their ability to concentrate at school.
World Vision welcomes the UK Government's initiatives
on Education and in particular the steps it has taken to support
universal primary education. World Vision anticipates that such
initiatives also focus on the quality of the education provided
and the possibility of making education compulsory as well as
World Vision would welcome details of the outcomes
of the discussions mentioned in the report at page 126, paragraph
World Vision enclosed its Working Paper on Disability
"all things being equal: perspectives on disability and development"
as part of the evidence on this section of the Human Rights Report.
The following constitute a summary of comments/written
evidence from World Vision partner organisations.
World Vision Columbia
World Vision Columbia has worked closely with
the UK Government representative in Columbia and produced a video
in October 2001 containing an interview given by the UK Ambassador.
According to World Vision Columbia, dialogue
between the Columbian government and the FARC is not progressing,
and they are of the opinion that agreement is unlikely to be reached
on control of those areas under discussion.
In view of World Vision Columbia, there is the
feeling that contradictory messages are being sent. On the one
hand, there are peace negotiations, which are widely supported,
and at the same time there are attacks on Columbia by aircrafts
that are being sent to combat drug trafficking as part of Plan
Columbia. Therefore the communities that World Vision work with
find it difficult to take external intervention in peace accords
seriously when they see regular aerial attacks on Columbia.
In the view of World Vision Columbia, the Columbian
government is increasingly failing to recognise the role of civil
society in Columbia and the UK Government has a role to play in
taking this issue forward. World Vision Columbia would welcome
initiatives on terrorism in relation to Columbia and would urge
the UK government to take an initiative on this.
World Vision Columbia would welcome details
of how the UK Government intends to support Columbian NGOs and
the Peace Process, as at present such support does not constitute
part of Plan Columbia. Further, World Vision Columbia has concerns
as to how NGOs and the Peace Process will be affected bearing
in mind the events of 11 September?
The following constitutes comments/evidence
presented by World Vision Indonesia.
1. Peace building: In North Maluku
World Vision Indonesia has a number of peace building projects
whose emphasis is on strengthening that which connected people
before the conflict; the projects bring people who were at war
together around common concerns, for example women's self-help
groups are brought together for story telling, dancing and food.
Through such common concerns they are gradually building trust.
Similarly, the projects bring children from neighbouring communities
together, for example for a sports day, and this has contributed
to a slow breaking down of walls of exclusion.
2. Child rights: World Vision Indonesia
has produced a booklet, which summarises the Convention on the
Rights of the Child in short story and cartoon format appropriate
to the cultural context. Work is now under way to determine how
best to use the booklet to educate children, teachers and parents
throughout Indonesia on child rights. In addition, the booklet
is likely to be used in some of World Vision Indonesia's peace
building projects, for example the DFID approved "Peace building
through Children's Education" project.
3. Alternative education and trauma support
for internally displaced children: In Maluku (Ambon), World
Vision Indonesia implemented a one-year project providing alternative
education for internally displaced children. This meant that children
could continue with their education despite being internal refugees.
The project also trained lay trauma support workers to help children
work through their experiences of war.
4. The following constitutes an account
from one of the participants in the peace and reconciliation activities
World Vision Indonesia is carrying on in Halmahera, one of the
islands of North Maluku referred to in paragraph 1 above. The
participants name has been altered to protect their identity.
"I had to run for my life, and stayed in
the forest for a week. Everybody was crazy here in Tobelo. My
house was burned down, I lost everything. Muslims were killing
Christians and Christians were killing Muslims. I am a Christian
and it has been so difficult for me to forgive the people who
burned my house. After I staying in the forest for a week I managed
to escape to Sulawesi where it was safe. The memories of all the
horrible things I saw and the friends, who I lost, stayed with
me and it disturbed my sleep. After some months I went back to
Tobelo. There were no Muslims any moreall had run away.
I felt safe.
Now I am one of the members who organise the
activities between Muslims and Christians in Tobelo and the surrounding
areas. Some Muslims have come back to Tobelo now. It has been
difficult for mebefore I joined these activities I did
not want to see or talk to Muslims because all the memories and
sadness would come back to me and that makes me very emotional.
I really wanted to forgive and continue with my life so I joined
the team. In the meetings that we have with women from other ethnic
groups and religions from Halmahera we discover that we share
the same experience, the same emotion and the same traumas. This
was the first time since almost two years that people from different
religions met peacefully in Tobelo. The meetings helped me to
see that there is no one group that I can blame and that all of
us, victims of the conflict, have to come together and help each
other to overcome our traumatic experiences and live together
in peace again. I still feel safe, although some Muslim people
live near my house again.
The women who participate are very happy with
these activities. Slowly we can discuss more and more about the
things that have happened in the past to us. I am very happy that
WV (World Vision) has taken the initiative to give some money
and support so we can organise these meetings and activities.
Inside, I am a changed woman, although there are still painful
memories, I can deal with them better now."
12 January 2002