William Hetzer, chief, broadcasting and electronic communication section, UNICEF
Every child born into this world has the fundamental right to live a healthy, productive and fulfilling life. It is a right enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child a landmark international human rights treaty combining civil and political rights with economic, social and cultural rights for all children which nearly every country in the world has signed and pledged to uphold. Yet as we rapidly approach the 21st century, over 12 million children die each year in the developing world and hundreds of thousands of others suffer from ill health, poor growth and lack of education.
In today’s world of instantaneous communications, satellite broadcasting and electronic information, there is no excuse for ignoring children’s problems. The International Children’s Day of Broadcasting is a call to action. It has demonstrated that broadcasters can be more than advocates for children, they can be catalysts for change and can help accelerate real progress.
Since its inception five years ago, the day has become a unique broadcasting alliance reaching millions of viewers in nearly every country in the world. It has invoked the support of world leaders, heads of state and key government officials. Through it, important messages for or about children are beamed into homes messages that inform, educate and motivate people; messages that get vital health and nutrition information to those to whom it means the difference between life and death; messages that help raise funds for children in desperate need; and messages that help change public perception on issues like discrimination against girls and women. These are messages that have brought about positive, lasting changes, benefiting children everywhere.
The broadcast industry has a crucial role to play in promoting children’s rights and ensuring that provisions of the convention, such as freedom of expression, the right to education and access to information, are met. The International Children’s Day of Broadcasting provides a unique forum for broadcasters and children to get involved in local and global programming plans and in helping children achieve some of their rights. It gives youngsters the chance to voice their opinions and concerns on air and enables them to partake in special activities and events.
UNICEF has long recognized the power of communication as a channel for reaching the remotest areas of the globe. As we celebrate UNICEF’s 50th anniversary, we challenge and invite you to join us in developing new ways to reach as many parts of the world as we can, with as many messages as we can to put children first.