Further steps in analysis of children’s rights on islands

To get a further understanding of the situation of children in St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, UNI­CEF and the respective governments will organize consultation workshops with local experts and de­cision makers. UNICEF is analysing children’s rights on the islands as a follow-up of the research done in 2013.

The stakeholder consulta­tion workshops kicked off in St. Maarten on Thursday and Friday, April 4 and 5, continued in St. Eustatius on April 8, and will con­tinue in Saba on April 11 and in Bonaire on April 16 and 17.

Consultation workshops stakeholders.

‘Although there are ob­servable similarities be­tween the four islands, each of the islands is different with unique challenges facing children’s rights. As such, the analysis was con­ducted with the specific contexts in mind and the findings will be discussed with the respective stake­holders accordingly,” said Paulette Nichols, UNICEF situation analysis expert conducting the studies.

Analysing progress and bottlenecks in realising children’s rights, UNICEF published SitAns (situa­tion analyses) on the rights of children in St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba in 2013, which con­cluded that the children’s rights situation on the four islands did not fulfil all re­quirements of the UN Con­vention on the Rights of the Child. Poverty, domestic vi­olence, and limited data on children were among the is­sues reported.

The objective of this new round of studies has been to analyse progress and re­maining or new bottlenecks as it pertains to the reali­sation of children’s rights since the last studies were published. Specifically, for St. Maarten, the study also concentrates on adversity and risk for children in the aftermath of the 2017 hur­ricanes and how the social protection systems, includ­ing the child protection system, have responded to these changes.

During the consultation workshops, the findings are presented and discussed with local experts and de­cision-makers under three rights-based thematic ar­eas: The right to economic resources and a life with dignity, which centres on poverty and vulnerability; the right to protection from violence and exploitation, which centres on the pro­tective environment; and the living and nurturing environment, which cen­tres on children’s rights to health, education, and par­ticipation.

The situation of adoles­cents and their transition into adulthood and the sit­uation of migrant children and their families are cross­cutting themes.

The studies started on the islands in November 2018 and continued into March 2019 with extensive inter­views with key informants from non-governmental
organisations and the child protection, health, and ed­ucation sectors, and focus group sessions, including with children, adolescents, and single parents.

The consultation work­shops are a key follow-up step in the process serv­ing to review, discuss, and validate findings, identify and address remaining in­formation gaps, and reach consensus on recommen­dations, key actions, and monitoring frameworks.

“Stakeholders have re­mained remarkably forth­coming and supportive throughout the studies, demonstrating their commitment to advancing children’s rights on their islands. These consultation workshops maximise their engagement, ensuring that they also contribute to the final outcome of the stud­ies and take ownership of the recommendations and responsibility for the ac­tions,” said UNICEF proj­ect lead on the SitAns La­-Thoya Charles.

Once the findings are vali­dated and recommenda­tions are formulated during the upcoming workshops, the studies will provide a basis for advice regarding current and future policy-making on children’s rights and identify actions that should be taken. The four final reports will be pub­lished later this year.

The St. Maarten SitAn forms part of UNICEF’s post-Irma recovery project in St. Maarten funded by the Netherlands Red Cross. The SitAns on Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba are funded by the Dutch Min­istry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations.

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