office of the Summit Follow-up - OAS

 

PERMANENT COUNCIL OF THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON INTER-AMERICAN SUMMITS MANAGEMENT

OAS/Ser. G     CE/GCI-99/97
16 April 1997
Original: Spanish

REPORT OF THE INTER-AMERICAN CHILDREN’S INSTITUTE (IIN) TO THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON INTER-AMERICAN SUMMITS MANAGEMENT

D.G. No. 171/97
Montevideo, March 21, 1997

Dear Ambassador Babbitt,

I am pleased to respond to your letter of February 27, received here by mail on March 19, in which you request information on the work of the IIN pursuant to the responsibilities assigned it by the Permanent Council relating to initiatives in the Plan of Action of the Summit of the Americas.

Enclosed is a summary report of our activities. As with last year’s report, this one contains a brief review of the activities of the Inter-American Children’s Institute, nearly all of which, as we pointed out then, relate directly or indirectly to the promotion and protection of children’s human rights. The IIN moreover has made it one of its basic objectives to inject the theme of children into the region’s political agenda relating to democratization, modernization of the state and human rights. We may conclude that the IIN is contributing directly to fulfillment of the action goals of the Summit’s Declaration of Principles, which calls for meeting the basic needs of people of the Americas, as they relate specifically to children.

I should point out that this information, summarizing our major activities, is contained for the most part in a similar report sent to the Secretary General for preparation of his annual report to the General Assembly.

Yours truly,

Rodrigo Quintana
Director General

Her Excellency
Ambassador Harriet C. Babbitt
Chair of the Special Committee on
Inter-American Summits Management
Permanent Mission of the United States
to the Organization of American States


REPORT OF THE INTER-AMERICAN CHILDREN’S INSTITUTE (IIN) TO THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON INTER-AMERICAN SUMMITS MANAGEMENT

Introduction

The IIN completed the year 1995 with a review of its cooperation activities by a Working Group of its Directing Council at OAS headquarters in Washington. It began the year 1996 with a process of program restructuring and redesign, initiated at the Special Meeting of the Directing Council in Santiago, Chile, which approved the general lines of a proposal of the Director General for implementing the central ideas prepared by the General Secretariat of the OAS. The strengthening of democracy, modernization of the State, and human rights are closely linked with the promotion and protection of children and with the thrust of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, approved by the United Nations in 1989, the premises of which reflect the following principles: promoting the Convention in the region, assisting in the development of social policies relating to children, defining the relationship between government and society, encouraging horizontal cooperation among states, and promoting action in relatively less-developed countries.

Consequently, the IIN has reoriented its activities and priorities, as reflected in its activities over the past year.

Special Activities

The IIN, in partnership with UNICEF, organized the Fourth Meeting of the Latin American Inter-Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights on the topic of "The Convention on the Rights of the Child: its impact on legislation and on society." This meeting was held from May 21 to June 2, in Chile. The IIN presented a report on "the Protection of Children’s Rights in International Law," and took part in the Committee’s discussion of children and adolescents in conflict with the law. In addition, its specialist in the prevention of drug dependency reported to the Committee on the joint work of the IIN with CICAD.

The IIN was represented by its General Director at the Third American Meeting on Children and Social Policy, held in Santiago, Chile, on August 7 to 9, under an agreement signed by the region’s heads of state at the 1990 World Summit on Children in New York, and renewed at the follow-up meetings held in Mexico in 1992 and in Santafé de Bogotá in 1994, the latter of which issued the Commitment to Children, adapting child policy goals to regional conditions.

The Institute participated through its Director General in the Caribbean Conference on the Rights of the Child: the Post-Ratification Challenges, which was held October 7-10 in Belize and was convened by CARICOM and UNICEF to consider the challenges arising from ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. That meeting examined the role of the Inter-American Children’s Institute in applying the Convention. We were also able to establish contacts for exploring means of cooperation with authorities in the English-speaking Caribbean.

The Institute also participated in the Ibero-American Seminar on Legislation relating to Youth, held December 10-12 in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, and convened by the Ibero-American Youth Organization under a mandate from the Ibero-American Summits of Heads of State and Government. The seminar studied the creation of an International Commission on the Rights of Children and Adolescents.

On December 12 a joint staff meeting was held at the Institute’s headquarters in Montevideo with the Regional Office of UNICEF for Latin America and the Caribbean, which examined cooperation between the two institutions and the possibility of developing new joint activities.

The Director General’s office has given particular attention to preparing projects relating to children with disabilities or members of ethnic minorities, which are currently being examined by various external funding agencies for possible financing and implementation during the current year.

To conclude, the Institute, pursuant to a decision of the Directing Council at its Special Meeting, has established ties with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, based in Geneva, Switzerland, with a view to examining possible cooperation with that Committee in member states of the OAS. To this end, the IIN’s Director General met with the Committee in January of this year. The Institute’s cooperation may take the form of providing assistance, as recommended by the Committee, for countries of the region in preparing their reports, beginning with those that have not yet issued their first report; helping with dissemination of the reports and the Committee’s recommendations, through the policy bodies of the OAS; preparing reports and conducting research; and analyzing opinions issued by the Committee relating to the Convention, for use in training courses for judges and other professionals in the field of children and the family.

Program Activities

During the period of this report, the Institute implemented activities included in the Plan of Action for Disadvantaged Children, approved in 1989 by the OAS General Assembly, details of which follow:

Children’s Rights Program. The Institute took part in an international seminar on adoption, held in Caracas. It provided support for post-graduate courses in Child Law at the Universidad Notarial of Argentina, and in the Faculty of Law at the University of Uruguay. It participated in the Ninth World Congress on Family Law in Panama, pursuant to a mandate of the OAS General Assembly to submit a report on the results and conclusions of that meeting. The IIN attended as an observer at meetings of the Special Committee on the Protection of Children at the Hague Conference on Private International Law, which prepared an agreement on applicable law, competent jurisdiction, and cooperation in this area. It prepared a project to study the status of international agreements on children signed within the framework of CIDIP, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child itself, and has begun compiling information on the status of those agreements in members states.

Inter-American Program for Strengthening Child Welfare Systems (PROINFBI). The second module of the Management Course for Child Welfare Agencies in Central America was held, involving senior officials and experts from Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The third module of the Course will be held in Guatemala during the current year. The Institute participated in a meeting sponsored by the European Parliament on the topic of street children, held in Holland, and presented one of the keynote papers. It took part in the Course on Guidelines for Social Program Design and Management, given by the Inter-American Development Bank’s Inter-American Institute for Social Development (INDES), and prepared the paper entitled "Management of Social Programs and Projects for the Child Welfare System" that was used in the preparatory phase of the Course.

Regional Training Program in Children’s Rights and Political Science for Children and Adolescents in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the framework of the agreement between the IIN and UNICEF, a series of lectures were given under the Post-Graduate Course that the two agencies have designed for use in universities of the region. During the year, three modules of the course were offered at the National University of Cordoba, on the following topics: "The Historic Development of Social Policies for Children," "Adoption and International Adoption," and "Childhood as Social Construct: the Image of the Child and the Adolescent through History." Two other modules were presented at the Universidad Diego Portales in Chile, on "Child Welfare Policy in Latin America" and on "Social Control in Childhood and Adolescence".

The Inter-American Information Program on Children and the Family (PIINFA) has participated in a number of global initiatives for using modern communications technology, such as the "Network of Networks," a project funded and sponsored by IDRC in Canada, and the Global Information Network on the Rights of the Child, which now embraces five continents, and is coordinated by Save the Children (England), Defence of Children International (Switzerland), Human Rights Internet (Canada), the International Children’s Center (France), the International Center for Child Development - UNICEF (Italy) and RÄDDA BARNEN (Sweden). This strategy has produced positive results: for example, the "World Congress against the Sexual Trafficking and Exploitation of Children," held in Sweden, decided to use this IIN program to gather and make available information from all over the Americas on combating the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents.

— The Documentary Information Project (PID) and its Inter-American Child Data Network publishes a semiannual Bibliography Review with a circulation of 5,000. During the year, the Focal Center, which was operating within the premises of the Rädda Barnen Foundation in Peru, became the Directing Body for the National System for the Integral Care of Children and Adolescents, a national agency that recently became part of the Ministry for Promotion of Women and Human Development. A new Focal Center was created in the Secretariat of Generational Affairs of the Ministry of Human Development in Bolivia, and a User Center was set up at the headquarters of the National Council on Women and the Family in Argentina (Province of Formosa). The Project’s seventh regional workshop was held in Tegucigalpa, with representatives from 11 countries. The Project has recorded a 25 per cent increase over the last year in the number of user requests and has increased its documentation resources by more than 10 per cent.

— The Child Data Systems Project (SIPI), which involves Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Jamaica, Peru, and Uruguay, collaborated with INAME in Uruguay to hold a workshop on reconversion and a national census of private child care institutions. It held 18 training workshops in Central America, where SIPI will be introduced in 1997 with funding from the IDB, UNICEF, and the Spanish International Cooperation Agency. Peru has expressed interest in the system, and is negotiating possible sources of financing. A third phase of the Project for Ecuador and Uruguay is under preparation.

— The IIN’s Secondary Information Reference System Project (SIRS) published the "Children’s Yellow Pages" last year, which will be distributed during the present year. It contains a listing of 2,750 institutions compiled by the Project, with their respective profiles.

— The Legal Database project (BADA) plans as a first step to distribute this year CDs containing codes and laws relating to children and the family from twenty countries of the region.

Drug Addiction Prevention Program. The Institute signed a general cooperation agreement with the Programming Secretariat for the Prevention of Drug Addiction and the War on Drug Trafficking (DESCRONAR) of Argentina. In addition to programming activities, it provided advisory services and cooperation for various meetings within the region, such as the Seminar Workshop on the Abuse of Drugs among Street Children in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia; one on Focal Points for Preventing Drug Addiction in the Andean Region, organized for health ministries by PAHO, in Santiago, Chile; the First Seminar for Strengthening Drug Abuse Prevention in Uruguay and the Group of Child Specialists, within the framework of the Seventh PID/SIRS Workshop, referred to above.

— Under the Project for Participatory Preventive Education for youth, parents, teachers, and health experts in South and Central America, a Central American Subregional Training Workshop for extension workers in preventive education on drug dependency and health promotion was held in Antigua, Guatemala, for technical personnel from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. Guatemala was also the site of the second stage of the Follow-up and Evaluation of the Family Fathers’ Group, who act as community prevention agents in five Guatemalan cities.

— The Project for Risk Prevention and Healthy Lifestyles for Women is in its initial stages of implementation by CICAD, with IIN’s cooperation. A first version has been prepared of a directory of institutions working with women in the Americas, and the first pilot projects have been designed for prevention and health in Uruguay, using the IIN’s participatory education methodology. Montevideo was the site of the Advisory Group meeting on the impact of drug abuse on women and the family, with participation of experts from 11 Latin American and Caribbean countries.

Program on Children, the Family, and Disability. It should be noted that, as a non-program activity, the IIN has signed a general cooperation agreement with the Inter-American Confederation of the International League of Associations for Persons with Mental Disabilities (CILPEDIM) to develop activities of mutual interest.

— Project on growing together in community life: a new model for developing policies for the disabled. In Uruguay, the IIN participated in the inter-agency working group on educational integration, and in this context cooperated with a number of national agencies and teachers’ associations in a variety of training activities. In Chile, assistance was provided to the First International Seminar on Disabilities, hosted by the Municipality of Arica; to the University of Tarapaca, Arica, on curricular barriers and a new vision for dealing with and teaching persons with disabilities; and to the Association of Parents of Children with Disabilities. The IIN took part in the First Ibero-American Congress on Special Education, where it presented a number of papers; in the seminar on Perspectives on Special Education in Latin America and the Caribbean; and in the World Assembly for International Inclusion, all of which were held in Chile. In Colombia, assistance was provided to the Ministry of Education for incorporating the special education system into the regular system, and contacts were established with a view to future cooperation with the Colombian Family Welfare Institute, including the possibility of repeating in other OAS countries the activities that that Institute has been developing to promote better coverage and quality of services for children, youth and women facing exclusion or in high-risk situations. In Venezuela the IIN took part in the second Ibero-American Seminar on Prevention of Mental Disabilities. In Brazil, it participated in two stages of the education policy adjustment process that has been launched by the National Coordination Office for the Integration of Persons with Mental Disabilities, within the Secretariat for Citizenship Rights of the Brazilian Ministry of Justice.

Civil Records and Vital Statistics Project. In Ecuador, assistance was provided to the Superior and Provincial Electoral Tribunals and to the Civil Records and Documentation Service, for upgrading the electoral rolls, in cooperation with the OAS Unit for the Promotion of Democracy. Assistance was also provided to the Civil Records and Identification Service of Chile. In cooperation with the IDB and UPD, assistance was provided to Haiti, through an identification mission of the support program for the Executive Power and for administrative reform and modernization of the Civil Status Registry. Assistance was provided to the Center for Electoral Advice and Promotion (CAPEI) of the Inter-American Institute for Human Rights (IIDH), based in Costa Rica, for preparing the agenda of the technical working group for the meeting of the Senior Electoral Officers Program (PAGE). In Bolivia, the IIN participated in the third seminar for electoral officers and civil registry officials from Ibero-American countries, in cooperation with the IIDH/CAPEL PAGE program.

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