The Committee has specified that “environmental interventions should, inter alia, address climate change, as this is one of the biggest threats to children’s health and exacerbates health disparities. States should, therefore, put children’s health concerns at the centre of their climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies.” The child’s participation would be encouraged by suitable education and support to tackle local and global challenges, including climate change and environmental degradation.Although this sounds promising, there are a number of problems. Like many other international instruments, it lacks a proper enforcement mechanism. It doesn’t, on its own, provide a mechanism that enforces compliance (as do some human rights treaties). It has therefore, near complete dependence on national legal means, that is, its conversion into national laws and legal processes. And so, the process of monitoring, by a group of 18 experts elected by the UN, and the report they issue every five years is somewhat ineffectual.As sociologist Manfred Liebel says in Children’s Rights from Below Cross-Cultural Perspectives, his book published in 2012 on the social reality of children’s rights, “To date, the efficacy of the recommendations has not been researched empirically, but it is evident that they are frequently ignored, arbitrarily interpreted or, at best, selectively acted upon.”Another issue with child rights, that is particularly highlighted in the context of environmental conservation, is the disconnect between the rights-holder and the moral agent, that is, the child and the ‘person’ authorised to take decisions.Focus India: India signed the convention in 1992 and has since made strides in the realisation of these rights. However, it is pertinent to mention that under the Sustainable Development Goals, India has slipped in rankings and significant challenges remain, with stagnating growth under SDG 5 (gender equality) and challenges under SDG 4 (quality education) and many others as well. Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and India are among four South Asian countries where children are at an extremely high risk of the impacts of the climate crisis. In the words of Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF Representative to India, “Climate change is a child rights crisis”. CCRI data has flagged the serious deprivations faced by children due to the ill effects of climate change on the existing inadequate access to water and sanitation, healthcare and education.


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