Children’s rights mulled in Azerbaijani parliament with UNICEF support

By Sabina Idayatova

A roundtable on children's rights was held in the Azerbaijani parliament on May 22 with the support of UNICEF.

The event was attended by Vice-Speaker Bahar Muradova, Head of UNICEF Baku Office Mark Hereward, UN Resident Coordinator in Azerbaijan Antonius Broek, as well as MPs Hadi Rajabli, Ziyad Samadzade and Vahid Ahmadov.

In her opening remarks, Muradova said Azerbaijan is cooperating with UNICEF to improve the country's legislation.

Muradova said attention to the rights of children and to the issues related to health, education and safety of children are the duty of any state. "Azerbaijan has already attained significant achievements in this area," she said.

According to Muradova, business entities should pay special attention to the problem of child labor.

"Unfortunately, there are some problems associated with the exploitation of child labor in Azerbaijan, and the children who are deprived of parental care often face this problem," she underscored.

Muradova added that entrepreneurs should support all the efforts of the government and society in this regard, as well as assist in the protection of children's rights in emergency situations and in the state of war.

Muradova further noted the importance of the production of safe food for children as well as the preparation of videos targeting the protection of children`s rights.

Joining the discussions, Ziyad Samadzade also drew attention to child labor exploitation.

"Though the problems related to children's rights have already been resolved in Azerbaijan, the problem of child labor exploitation remains in the country," the MP said.

According to Samadzade, children are mostly affected by the global financial crisis.

"The main cause of the crisis is the conflict of public interest," Samadzade said. "Civil solidarity should be the primary factor while addressing these issues. Protection of children's rights is one of the goals of strategic planning."

While making a presentation, UNICEF expert Ida Margarita Hyllested said people dealing with marketing should avoid aggressive advertising, because children are very sensitive to this and quickly become the subject of manipulation. She also noted that business entities should protect the rights of children.

Addressing the event, Head of the Azerbaijan Trade Unions Confederation, MP Sattar Mehbaliyev, offered to restore summer camps. According to Mehbaliyev, the Confederation arranges vacations for more than 6,000 children annually. However, the figure is too low for Azerbaijan.

"It would be good to restore the Soviet-era summer camps in a new form, as not all families have the opportunity to provide holidays for children during the summer vacation," Mehbaliyev said.

UNICEF has partnered with the Azerbaijani government and local NGOs and community organizations since 1993 in order to improve the life of the nation's children. Its role has developed in line with Azerbaijan's rapid development. It now works with its partners to improve the entire system of child care and protection.

Goals planned to be reached by 2015 include reducing child mortality by 30 percent, ensuring that half of the country's schools meet child-friendly standards and that children with disabilities are integrated into mainstream society.