Children come first- in Sweden and around the world

Today we are in New York, attending the 25th anniversary celebrations of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. A quarter of a century has passed since the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Since then, almost every country in the world has signed the CRC and it has become the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history.

Our new cooperation Government declared in the Statement of Government Policy that we want to make the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child law in Sweden. The rights and living conditions of children in Sweden must satisfy the requirements of the CRC and other international agreements. We are not there yet. While Swedish legislation is generally adequate, much still needs to be done to guarantee the rights enshrined in the Convention.

The new cooperation Government has therefore begun the detailed work to incorporate the CRC into Swedish law. The Convention will thereby act as a safety net for the decisions and activities affecting children. Work is already under way and we are very hopeful that there will be broad collaboration between many positive forces. Most of the parliamentary parties are very interested in being involved in the work and engagement among civil society actors is strong. It goes without saying that the work will also require the voice of children to be heard.

Children’s rights are high on the agenda of the new cooperation Government. We intend to protect children’s rights at local, national and global level. As children cannot choose their parents, we have a shared responsibility for all children. This gives children’s rights issues a moral dimension that is far stronger than for many other issues.

This is why the Government’s Budget Bill contains investments to improve conditions for the most vulnerable children. We are raising maintenance support for single parents with children, the standard for income support for parents with children between 7 and 18 years of age, and the basic level of parental insurance. Medicines for children will also be free of charge. No parent should need to choose between buying food or buying medicine.

To give every child a better childhood, we are investing heavily in preschools and schools. We are investing in more staff and smaller groups in preschools. In schools we are investing in smaller primary school classes, more special needs teachers and remedial teachers, and more resources for the schools with the greatest needs.

Children are also a priority on Sweden’s international agenda. Our country is one of the largest core donors to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and reducing child mortality is an important priority in our development assistance. In the context of the negotiations on the new global sustainable development goals, the post-2015 development agenda, Sweden is pushing to ensure it will contain a child and young people’s perspective.

Olof Palme once said: “As I see it, the only tangible link that we really have with the future is our children. Because it is through them that we see the future take shape. This is where our shared responsibility for the children in our society comes from. It’s not a matter of my children and your children, but our children – all children. And that’s why children have to come first.”

If we look at children’s rights through his eyes, we can see that it is not just about having a duty here and now to ensure that all children have a good upbringing. It is also about securing our common future.

 

Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister
Åsa Regnér, Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality

SWEDEN

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