An analysis on the situation of Cambodian children and their rights was disseminated on March 30 at an event hosted by UNICEF in Phnom Penh. It highlighted areas of progress across Cambodia in the past decades towards fully realising children’s rights.
UNICEF urged the government to continue its efforts to promote children's rights, as some of them are still experiencing challenges.
The event was attended by representatives from the government, civil society organisations, development partners, and the private sector.
“The analysis highlighted areas of progress across Cambodia in the past decades, as well as ongoing challenges and areas for improvement,” said UNICEF in a press release.
Guided by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), key human rights principles and the sustainable development goals (SDGs), the independent analysis assessed key areas such as the right to a healthy environment; to participate in decision-making; to health and nutrition; to water, sanitation and hygiene; to education; to protection from harm; and to an adequate standard of living and social protection.
“It acknowledged that while the government has made key advances in its efforts to improve children’s lives in Cambodia in the past decade – noting that the country is ahead of its targets for 30 per cent of its SDGs – almost 18 per cent of Cambodians still live below the poverty line, and almost half of Cambodia’s population aged under 17 falls within the definition of multidimensionally poor,” it continued.
The press release quoted Will Parks, UNICEF representative to Cambodia, as saying that over the last decade, Cambodia has made important progress in the lives of its children.
“I want to congratulate Cambodia, yet we must also recognise the continued challenges that threaten to slow progress towards fully realising children’s rights,” he said.
“We must face these challenges head-on until each and every child has all their rights respected and fulfilled. Looking at the major progress achieved, Cambodia has proven it is possible to envision a future where all children have access to the healthcare, nutrition, protection and education they need, deserve and are entitled to. UNICEF will work hand-in-hand with the government to make this vision a reality,” he added.
The analysis also built on the findings from the UN Child Rights Committee’s June 2022 assessment of Cambodia’s progress in implementing the UNCRC, which concluded that while various legislative, institutional and policy measures are in place to enshrine the rights of the child in law, there are still major gaps that need filling, and implementation and enforcement mechanisms need to be strengthened.