The Child Survival Project

Global child survival is a fundamental human rights issue

Worldwide 12.5 million children under age five die every year from preventable causes. In order to ensure the survival and healthy development of its children, each government has to fulfill its economic and social rights obligations based on the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. These obligations directly address issues fundamental to the survival of children, such as discrimination, access to health care, the right to an adequate standard of living, and the right to an education. When children under age five die at excessively high rates from preventable causes, their fundamental human rights are violated.

The report: Global Child Survival: A Human Rights Priority

In early 1998, the Child Survival Project finished the critical first phase of its work to document excessive and preventable child mortality as a human rights violation. The report analyzes the cases of child survival in three countries of varying levels of developmentUganda, Mexico, and the United States, sets forth the relevant obligations that each of these countries has under international human rights law, and recommends ameliorative measures to increase child survival and health. The report found that although the direct causes of child deaths are biological in nature, the survival of children depends heavily on structural factors such as allocation of resources. Underlying economic and social factors linked to child survival must be addressed in order to effectively combat high rates of preventable child deaths.

Why human rights matter to the survival of children

The process of implementing fundamental human rights guarantees invokes mechanisms that can promote child survival. At national and local levels, laws, policies, and programs can be assessed in light of a governments international human rights obligations. At the international level, advocates can use international and regional bodies, such as the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and UNICEF, to present information about a countrys compliance with its obligations under international law and to advocate for corresponding international assistance and pressure.

Advocacy and public education to promote child survival

The Child Survival Project is now in the midst of a two-year public education and advocacy phase, bringing together a coalition of new constituents and resources for promoting child survival. The Project, in cooperation with its Mexican partners, presented two workshops on child survival and human rights in Mexico in November-December 1998. In Uganda, the Project is working in collaboration with the Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC) at Makerere University to organize a series of workshops in Kampala and selected rural districts in May 1999. In the US, the advocacy phase of the Project will be carried out in the form of several Midwest-based initiatives, such as teaching about child survival as a right through school-based and public education. The Project will also be working toward US ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as producing a "shadow report" on US compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that will focus on racial disparity in US infant mortality rates. The advocacy and education work in all three countries will promote dialogue regarding comprehensive approaches to reducing high child mortality rates, emphasizing the integration of child survival strategies, womens and childrens rights education and promotion, and social development.

For more information, contact Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights,
310 Fourth Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55415-1012.
Tel: 612-341-3302, Fax: 612-341-2971, E-mail:
[email protected]

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