Social Science - Other

The History of UNICEF

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"The History of UNICEF"
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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is an authoritative body established under the mandate given by the United Nations General Assembly and plays an important role in uplifting the basic needs and children’s rights in all regions in the world where poverty and neglect could prevent the local authorities or the governments from looking into these aspects.

The mission of the UNICEF:

According to its mission statement, UNICEF is entrusted with multiple roles in a variety of circumstances in which children could be vulnerable towards losing their rights. These include natural disasters and emergencies, instances in which there is extreme poverty, abuse, war or even bad policies that deprive the children from what they deserve, instances in which women and girls become marginalized and deprived of equal opportunity along with instances such as failure to achieve recognized human development goals by the United Nations and its member countries.

1946 - 1960

According to the historical records of the UNICEF, one of the major reasons for its establishment was the spread of famine and diseases among the European children soon after World War II. Thus, it was established in the year 1946 and since then has played a major role in such disasters worldwide.

However, it was only in the year 1953 that  UNICEF was given an indefinite mandate by the UN General Assembly for a global campaign instead of the work that they did for European children.

Another landmark event which took place in the year 1954 was the showcasing of a film with regard to the work done by the UNICEF in Asia by its ambassador movie star Danny Kaye marking the beginning of a mass awareness campaign.

In the year 1959, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child which defined the future actions of the UNICEF in the directions of right to protect, education, health, shelter as well as good nutrition.

1960 - 1980

It is from the year 1961 that UNICEF set its foot on protecting the child’s rights regarding education and it all started off by providing teacher training and classroom equipment to newly independent countries which were lacking such services and facilities.

Another important landmark in the history of UNICEF is its receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize in the year 1965 for “promotion of brotherhood among nations’.

1979 came to be known as the ‘international year of the child’ and prompted the world to celebrate the child’s rights and the need to commit further towards its protection.

1980 - 1990

Another important step initiated by UNICEF in its endeavor to provide protection to children was the gaining of approval in 1981 for the ‘International Code of Marketing of Breast milk Substitutes’ which ensured that infants would receive breast milk as much as possible during the early life.

The launch of ‘Child Survival and Development Revolution’ in the year 1982 is another important historical event for  UNICEF and the entire world child population as it was a revolution for saving the lives of millions of children based on four simple techniques which included growth monitoring, oral rehydration therapy, breast feeding and immunization.

According to UNICEF, the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the year 1989 became the most widely and rapidly accepted human rights treaty in the history. It was followed in the year 1990 by a World Summit for Children attended by the Heads of States in New York which adopted a set of goals aimed at the next 10 years to ensure children’s health, nutrition and education.

After 1990

In the year 2001, UNICEF launched the ‘say yes for children campaign’ which aimed at mobilizing support by every citizen towards achieving the best possible protection and care for the child. It was followed by a special session on children in the year 2002 which re-energized the commitment for child protection by the members of UNICEF.

Apart from these landmark events, there have been many more events and endeavors which were initiated by UNICEF that were the driving force for many local initiatives to protect children from potential vulnerabilities and provide them with a brighter future.

More about this author: Dr Pandula Siribaddana

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