Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from World Vision

  This Memorandum constitutes the written comments/evidence of World Vision in response to the Human Rights Annual Report 2001 published by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and to the request for evidence from the Foreign Affairs Committee (see News Release 30 November 2001). World Vision does not intend giving oral evidence.

  World Vision is a Christian relief and development agency, which aims to provide the most effective ways of helping the world's poor build a better future for themselves and their children. World Vision works in over 50 countries and through its commitment to long-term development work supports some 154 programmes in four continents.


  World vision welcomes the Annual Reports presented by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in pursuance of its policy on Human Rights. It sets a clear framework for the work of Her Majesty's Government in this area and provides useful information on the activities undertaken. The comments by World Vision will be restricted to the issues concerning Child Rights (Chapter 8), Human Rights, Democracy and Diversity—Special focus on Disability (Chapter 7) and selected Country Reports.



  Chapter 8 provides a good summary of the work of the Foreign and Commonwealth office ("FCO") in the area of child rights; however, there is no indication of what remains to be done, what the next targets should be, nor is there any honest evaluation of what could have been done better, for improved practice in the future.

  It would also have been good to make more explicit links between the work of the FCO and DFID, with evidence of how the two are contributing towards the attainment of the IDTs/Millennium Goals most pertinent to children and young people.

  The structure of the chapter is somewhat ad hoc and gives a rather disparate account of what the FCO has engaged in or indeed what the issues facing children are. It omits serious issues facing children such as those highlighted in the recent Conference on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of children held in Yokohama (Stockholm +5). A further structural point relates to the section on "Child Labour and Education" this attempts to bring too much under one umbrella, with education per se in fact receiving very little attention, and with awareness raising being the main focus. We welcome the focus on "Children in War" although we believe that it does not do justice to the issue and more could have been done to at least highlight the fact that children's involvement in armed conflict happens in many more regions than just Sierra Leone.

  World Vision is also concerned at the tone adopted by the report in certain sections that we highlight below. The use of the phrase "made to sit down in a classroom and obey a teacher" and "Gangs of children" is language which may be likely to be unacceptable to many readers of the report and can either stigmatise children or give an impression of children which is against the spirit of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.


  World Vision welcomes the role that the UK Government is playing in the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children that has been rescheduled for May 2002. However, the rhetoric does not match the reality. World Vision notes in particular the low profile give to this event by the failure to include the Prime Minister as Head of Delegation when most countries are sending Heads of Government to this UN Conference. We hope that this decision will be rethought if indeed the UK Government is serious about Child Rights.

  We note that there is no reference to the civil, political and cultures rights of children alongside the economic and social rights, nor indeed what steps the FCO are taking to encourage implementation of those rights. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is unique in this respect as it brings together both sets of rights in one international convention. Regrettably, it does not appear to be reflected in this report. (Page 119, paragraph 3, line 3.)

  World Vision believes that the lack of access to basic services is a major "developmental issue", which is not highlighted in the report since lack of access to education and health care are key and are most often the result of poverty. Further, when talking of poverty we would recommend that there is also a reference to "inequality" as this is as much of an issue in certain countries as poverty and the two are in any case interlinked. (Page 119, paragraph 3, line 4.)

  As stated before, World Vision views with disappointment the fact that among the problems the FCO sees tomorrow's children facing, there is no mention of children who suffer abuse and violence, including commercial sexual exploitation. This is an important omission and rather unusual given that the section on "Marginalised Children" focuses almost exclusively on abuse and violence (albeit hardly at all on children who are commercially sexually exploited despite it constituting a subgroup of children suffering abuse or violence). (Page 119, paragraph 5.)

  World Vision would also suggest that children are not just marginalized on the basis of gender or ethnicity, and would encourage the importance of highlighting the range of inequalities faced by them. World Vision welcomes the recommendation that all policies and programmes need to be child sensitive. One method of tracking this would be to include a recommendation that all policies and programmes should include child impact indicators. (Page 119, paragraph 8, final sentence.)

  World Vision's work is primarily focused on community development and it works with a range of civil society actors in the countries where it operates. The need to include local government is crucial and we would encourage this as part of the collaboration mentioned in the report. (Page 119, paragraph 10.)

  The choice of "protection, education and health" as children's fundamental rights seems disparate and could lead to the false assumption that these rights are the only rights or the only significant rights. We have already referred to the omission concerning civil and political rights and would encourage the FCO to support and consider the implementation of these rights alongside the ones previously mentioned. (Page 120, paragraph 2.)

  World Vision: while warmly applauds the announced rise in international aid and welcomes this initiative as a strong signal to other governments. However, this increase is clearly insufficient if we consider that even by 2004, we will still be devoting less than half the proportion of GNP recommended by the UN to international development aid. World Vision would also welcome specific targets as to when the FCO and the UK Government anticipates that it will achieve the UN targets. Furthermore, in the context of children, aid needs to be targeted to specific child rights projects if the UK government is to contribute to child rights in any meaningful way. (Page 120, paragraph 3.)

  World Vision welcomes the UK Government's commitment to ratifying the two Optional Protocols to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. World Vision considers that a time frame for ratification needs to be set up; the term "as soon as possible" is somewhat vague and imprecise. We would strongly urge that these Optional Protocols be ratified without reservations and that the UK take an active role in encouraging other states to ratify both Optional Protocols without reservations. World Vision considers that it would be useful to have a time frame for completion of the guidelines for the Armed Forces. (Page 120, paragraphs 5 and 6.)


  World Vision welcomes the FCO focus on marginalised children as much of the FCO's work appears to be targeted towards this group. However, World Vision is somewhat concerned that the report may give the impression that marginalised children are viewed almost exclusively as abused children. There is little or no mention of many of the other groups of children frequently marginalised, ie those who suffer the stigma of HIV/AIDS or who are left as household heads because of the loss of relatives; children who are marginalised as a result of their ethnicity or their indigenous origin, or because they are refugees or seeking asylum; children with disabilities; and the girl child or those who are marginalised because they are denied access to services such as health or education. Finally, there is virtually no mention of children who are commercially sexually exploited and/or trafficked despite such action against children rendering them among the most marginalised in virtually every society.

  Given the above, World Vision finds the summary of what constitutes "maltreatment" somewhat limited. We would expect to see issues such as, abuse, sexual and economic exploitation and lack of access to basic services such as education and health, included within this definition. In addition types of abuse can also include a lack of opportunity since abuses such as lack of access to education have more to do with a child being denied a given opportunity than with "abuse" in its more conventional form, ie deliberate maltreatment of a child.

  With regard to the study involving children in rural China, it is not clear how the report will lead to improved rights for marginalised children in China, and much less so how these learnings will be disseminated more widely. World Vision's experience in other countries indicates that alongside regulatory remedies, a sustained effort to engage communities with child rights issues is needed so that they can themselves see the value of laws and regulations.

Street Children

  World Vision notes that the report seems to be referring to "children who live on the streets". We recommend that a distinction needs to be made between this small sub-group, and the larger group of children who work on the streets. The former often work as well as live on the streets whereas the latter almost always return to some sort of home after work. Though the UN has not historically employed this distinction, it is a necessary one as they are quite distinct groups.

  World Vision would welcome further details on what the work with "Central and East European police forces" involves. (Page 122.)

  World Vision notes with concern the language adopted in this part of the report. Phrases such as "the chance to behave", "youngsters" can come across as either counter to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child or even patronising to young people and could be misinterpreted.

Children in War

  World Vision believes that the UK Government needs to do more to reduce arms exports, including small arms, which often end up in the hands of children, and to impose more severe punishments on those who smuggle arms.

  World Vision is concerned and objects to the language adopted in the report concerning the notion of punishing children involved in conflict without there being wider debate on this issue. World Vision has worked with children who have experienced conflict first hand and have been child soldiers. Our experience shows that they already suffer severe recrimination upon their return to their communities and any talk of punishment in an FCO publication could lead to intensifying further the pain that such children already suffer. We strongly recommend that initially there needs to be a strong focus on psychological rehabilitation and social reintegration. We strongly object to the sentences such as "It is perhaps understandable that they demand retribution". Instead we would emphasise the very valid point that "Child soldiers have [ . . . ] the right not to be forced to fight" this remains the key issue.

  What is not clear from the report is what steps have been or are being taken to ensure that the rights of children who may be part of the process are protected and guaranteed.


  World Vision notes with some concern the omission of practices similar to slavery, such as the sale or trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict; the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances", as explicitly mentioned in ILO Convention 182, article 3(a) and (b). We draw special attention to the inclusion of children who are commercially sexually exploited and also the inclusion of compulsory recruitment of children into armed conflict, which can include conscription, as one of the worst forms of child labour.

  World Vision would welcome a report as to what the task force hopes to establish in relation to the use of child labour in the cocoa and chocolate industry. (Paragraph 124, paragraph 6.)

  World Vision welcomes the scope of the report in that it refers to the fact that Child Labour is common in Africa. We assume that this reference is to balance the view that child labour is predominantly an issue for Asia. We would welcome clarification of this to ensure that no incorrect assumptions are made that it exists solely or predominantly in this region of the world.

  World Vision is concerned that the reference to work by children in night markets is referred to as "light work". In our view, work in night markets is not light work, especially given that it disrupts children's sleep and thus is likely to severely affect their ability to concentrate at school.

  World Vision welcomes the UK Government's initiatives on Education and in particular the steps it has taken to support universal primary education. World Vision anticipates that such initiatives also focus on the quality of the education provided and the possibility of making education compulsory as well as free.

  World Vision would welcome details of the outcomes of the discussions mentioned in the report at page 126, paragraph 1.


Disability Rights

  World Vision enclosed its Working Paper on Disability "all things being equal: perspectives on disability and development" as part of the evidence on this section of the Human Rights Report.


  The following constitute a summary of comments/written evidence from World Vision partner organisations.


World Vision Columbia

  World Vision Columbia has worked closely with the UK Government representative in Columbia and produced a video in October 2001 containing an interview given by the UK Ambassador.

  According to World Vision Columbia, dialogue between the Columbian government and the FARC is not progressing, and they are of the opinion that agreement is unlikely to be reached on control of those areas under discussion.

  In view of World Vision Columbia, there is the feeling that contradictory messages are being sent. On the one hand, there are peace negotiations, which are widely supported, and at the same time there are attacks on Columbia by aircrafts that are being sent to combat drug trafficking as part of Plan Columbia. Therefore the communities that World Vision work with find it difficult to take external intervention in peace accords seriously when they see regular aerial attacks on Columbia.

  In the view of World Vision Columbia, the Columbian government is increasingly failing to recognise the role of civil society in Columbia and the UK Government has a role to play in taking this issue forward. World Vision Columbia would welcome initiatives on terrorism in relation to Columbia and would urge the UK government to take an initiative on this.

  World Vision Columbia would welcome details of how the UK Government intends to support Columbian NGOs and the Peace Process, as at present such support does not constitute part of Plan Columbia. Further, World Vision Columbia has concerns as to how NGOs and the Peace Process will be affected bearing in mind the events of 11 September?


  The following constitutes comments/evidence presented by World Vision Indonesia.

  1.  Peace building: In North Maluku World Vision Indonesia has a number of peace building projects whose emphasis is on strengthening that which connected people before the conflict; the projects bring people who were at war together around common concerns, for example women's self-help groups are brought together for story telling, dancing and food. Through such common concerns they are gradually building trust. Similarly, the projects bring children from neighbouring communities together, for example for a sports day, and this has contributed to a slow breaking down of walls of exclusion.

  2.  Child rights: World Vision Indonesia has produced a booklet, which summarises the Convention on the Rights of the Child in short story and cartoon format appropriate to the cultural context. Work is now under way to determine how best to use the booklet to educate children, teachers and parents throughout Indonesia on child rights. In addition, the booklet is likely to be used in some of World Vision Indonesia's peace building projects, for example the DFID approved "Peace building through Children's Education" project.

  3.  Alternative education and trauma support for internally displaced children: In Maluku (Ambon), World Vision Indonesia implemented a one-year project providing alternative education for internally displaced children. This meant that children could continue with their education despite being internal refugees. The project also trained lay trauma support workers to help children work through their experiences of war.

  4.  The following constitutes an account from one of the participants in the peace and reconciliation activities World Vision Indonesia is carrying on in Halmahera, one of the islands of North Maluku referred to in paragraph 1 above. The participants name has been altered to protect their identity.

    Ibn X

  "I had to run for my life, and stayed in the forest for a week. Everybody was crazy here in Tobelo. My house was burned down, I lost everything. Muslims were killing Christians and Christians were killing Muslims. I am a Christian and it has been so difficult for me to forgive the people who burned my house. After I staying in the forest for a week I managed to escape to Sulawesi where it was safe. The memories of all the horrible things I saw and the friends, who I lost, stayed with me and it disturbed my sleep. After some months I went back to Tobelo. There were no Muslims any more—all had run away. I felt safe.

  Now I am one of the members who organise the activities between Muslims and Christians in Tobelo and the surrounding areas. Some Muslims have come back to Tobelo now. It has been difficult for me—before I joined these activities I did not want to see or talk to Muslims because all the memories and sadness would come back to me and that makes me very emotional. I really wanted to forgive and continue with my life so I joined the team. In the meetings that we have with women from other ethnic groups and religions from Halmahera we discover that we share the same experience, the same emotion and the same traumas. This was the first time since almost two years that people from different religions met peacefully in Tobelo. The meetings helped me to see that there is no one group that I can blame and that all of us, victims of the conflict, have to come together and help each other to overcome our traumatic experiences and live together in peace again. I still feel safe, although some Muslim people live near my house again.

  The women who participate are very happy with these activities. Slowly we can discuss more and more about the things that have happened in the past to us. I am very happy that WV (World Vision) has taken the initiative to give some money and support so we can organise these meetings and activities. Inside, I am a changed woman, although there are still painful memories, I can deal with them better now."

World Vision

12 January 2002

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