The UN is a traditional partner of the Government of Turkmenistan, the Mejlis and the Office of the Ombudsperson in the field of human rights. The most important area of this partnership is the joint work with UNICEF in the priority areas of protecting the rights of the child. On the International Day for Protection of Children, the Commissioner for Human Rights in Turkmenistan and the UNICEF Representative in Turkmenistan speak about the results of the consolidation of efforts, as well as tasks and prospects of cooperation in this area.
Ombudsperson Yazdursun Gurbannazarova:
Children are our tomorrow's generation, this is the future of our society and the entire state. Every child must be protected by society and the state. We must make every effort to ensure that children receive a good upbringing, education and take their rightful place in society.
In our culture, raising children on the basis of family values and national traditions is the main purpose of parents and society. As the leader of the nation Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov emphasizes, "Our people have created invaluable rules and family traditions for the education of physically strong, noble, educated and talented young people." Our younger generation has yet to contribute in the future to the prosperity of our beloved Homeland.
Today in our country all the conditions for a decent life for children are created. To ensure a safe and happy life for children, to create all conditions for personal formation and self-realization, as well as additional opportunities to ensure the rights and freedoms of each child, is among the priority directions of state policy pursued by the respected President of Turkmenistan.
Over the years of independence, Turkmenistan has created an extensive national legal framework governing the protection and realization of the rights of the child, which is based on international documents. The main legal base, where guarantees for ensuring the rights of children are fixed, are contained in the Basic Law of our country and in the Law of Turkmenistan “On State Guarantees of the Rights of the Child”.
In addition to legislative aspects, dozens of long-term programs and strategies aimed at ensuring and promoting children's rights have also been successfully implemented in the country. Among the current plans and strategies should be designated "National action plan for the implementation of children's rights in Turkmenistan for 2018-2022" and "National Strategy of Turkmenistan on the early development of the child in Turkmenistan for 2020-2025." Also, it should be noted that literally recently, the esteemed President of Turkmenistan approved the "Program for improving the activities of kindergartens in the field of early development and improving the preparation of the child for school for 2020-2025."
This once again testifies to the rigorous commitment of Turkmenistan to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals proclaimed by the United Nations and solving the tasks of ensuring the universal well-being of children.
In the context of the implementation of universally recognized international norms, our independent state has acceded to a number of fundamental international legal acts, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is an internationally agreed set of unconditional standards and obligations that sets out the fundamental rights of children, equally common to all. This international document was the first document that most fully describes not only economic, social and cultural, but also civil and political rights.
Our country, becoming a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two optional protocols, carries out systematic and coordinated work to fulfill its obligations, as well as strengthens international cooperation in this area. Together with UN agencies, in particular through the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), it is carrying out active work aimed at ensuring the protection of the rights of the child, child’s development and health. Evidence of this can be traced through realized significant projects, as well as the election of Turkmenistan as a member of the Executive Council of UNICEF for 2018-2020.
The Ombudsman’s priority is to protect the rights of the child and to help restore their violated rights. In this area, the Office of the Ombudsman attaches particular importance to cooperation with the Representation of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Turkmenistan. Close cooperation with the UN Children's Fund has been ongoing since the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman of Turkmenistan, an example of which is the successfully implemented Work Plan for 2018-2019. In this regard, it should be noted that at the beginning of this year another Annual Work Plan for 2020 “Protection and Promotion of the Rights of the Child” was signed, which is a continuation of the implemented plan, and it also reflects the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
In the framework of joint plans, the Office of the Ombudsman, in partnership with UNICEF, conducts seminars in all regions of the country to raise awareness of children's rights, which explain the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the provisions of national legislation that implement these norms.
The participants of these meetings get acquainted with the national statistics of Turkmenistan on the implementation of these standards, with the proposals of the competent authorities to improve work in this direction, as well as the work being carried out in the country at the state level to study and implement the legislation in the field of childhood.
According to the signed Annual Work Plan for 2020, the specialists of the Ombudsman’s Office together with UNICEF provide for the implementation of a number of systematic activities, including round tables, seminars aimed at raising public awareness, as well as senior officials of the khyakimliks, departments of education, healthcare, and the social system protection of the population, on the rights of the child and the rights of stateless children.
Seeing the happy faces of the country's children on the International Children's Day, widely celebrated in Turkmenistan, is a clear evidence of a successful policy in accordance with the humanistic traditions and fundamental principles of the UN in the field of children's rights and interests.
UNICEF Representative in Turkmenistan, Christine Weigand:
The Office of the Ombudsperson is a key institution for the protection of children in the structure of any country. It is an important office for the monitoring of child rights, for raising awareness on rights related issues, and for helping identify and eventually address potential violations of children’s rights. UNICEF is very proud to have been a close partner of the Office of the Ombudsperson in Turkmenistan since its establishment in 2017 as an institution that oversees the human rights monitoring and a key partner in monitoring child rights.
In 2018, a first joint work plan for 2018-2019 between the Office of the Ombudsperson of Turkmenistan and UNICEF was signed in the framework of the Cooperation Programme between Turkmenistan and UNICEF for 2016–2020. It was developed with a view to reflect the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
As part of this workplan, UNICEF supported the Office of the Ombudsperson to carry out a series of sub-national workshops and consultations with representatives of the local authorities on issues pertaining to the implementation of child rights and the Ombudsperson’s mandate as a new institution. The workshops aimed at raising awareness of the local level authorities in all five velayats concerning child rights, and included the presentation of the National Plan of Action on Realisation of Children’s Rights for 2018-2022 (NPAC), the Committee on the Rights of the Child’s Concluding observations and other child rights-related themes. They also offered an opportunity to identify some of the challenges related to child rights. In addition, a representative of the Office of the Ombudsperson attended a regional network meeting dedicated to enhancing technical and methodological capacities for monitoring the progress towards the SDGs related to children and adolescents.
As part of the new joint workplan between the Office of the Ombudsperson and UNICEF for 2020, we are focusing on further strengthening the institution in child rights monitoring and data collection through (i) raising awareness on the rights of the child, including at the velayat level; (ii) conducting a seminar for relevant senior officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and employees responsible for the introduction of rehabilitation and reintegration services for children in contact with the law according to the National Plan of Action on Realisation of Children’s Rights for 2018-2022; (iii) independent monitoring of the implementation of paragraph 5.2.1 of the NPAC “Children in conflict with the law”, in particular, monitoring the implementation of support measures and the provision of rehabilitation services in penitentiary centres for children. This year, a representative of the Office of Ombudsman also participated in the “Access to Justice” regional meeting organized by UNICEF on issues relating to children in contact with the law.
UNICEF is proud to have partnered with Turkmenistan since the early days of independence on strengthening its legal and policy base and to bring the national legislation in line with major human rights conventions, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We supported the country in developing the Law on Guarantees of the Rights of the Child, Law on Guarantees of Youth to Labour, Law on protection and promotion of breastfeeding and requirements for infant food and others. The country also adopted several policies and action plans in the area of health, nutrition, and education, which are key for children’s wellbeing and development.
This year Turkmenistan will submit its next periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Office of Ombudsperson as well as other partners have an important role to play in reporting on the progress Turkmenistan has made to advance the child rights agenda, and thereby, accelerating the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). As we have embarked on the “Decade of Action” to accelerate progress on the SDGs between 2020 and 2030, it is imperative for all of us to join hands to intensify our efforts to make both child rights and SDGs a reality for all children, everywhere.
As part of our new country programme of cooperation between Turkmenistan and UNICEF for the years 2021-2025, we are looking to continue to strengthen and to expand our cooperation with all partners in the key areas of children’s wellbeing, namely governance, health, nutrition and early development, child and social protection, and quality inclusive education. Within this framework, we are looking forward to expanding our partnership with the Office of the Ombudsperson, especially around child protection. We are looking forward to building on our past joint work in this area, and to further supporting the Office of the Ombudsperson in its important mandate.
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