To mark the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), that was ratified by Sri Lanka in 1991, Parliamentarians from all political parties Thursday launched the country's first ever Parliamentary Caucus for Children.
A wide selection of parliamentarians, government officials, civil society members, media and the diplomatic corps attended the historic event supported by the UNICEF.
In his keynote address, the Speaker of Parliament Chamal Rajapaksa said that "the Parliamentary Caucus for Children will be the instrument at the highest level, to take the vision of the CRC forward to benefit the future generations of this country."
Also speaking at the event, the Minister of Child Development and Women's Affairs, Tissa Karraliyadda requested "all parliamentarians of Sri Lanka, to join hands with me and pledge their commitment to strengthen the implementation of the CRC for our children."
This pledge of commitment reaffirms that Members of Parliament will be guided by the CRC in the formulation of policies, budgets, laws and programs of action for children.
The concept of the Parliamentary Caucus for Children was initiated by the Parliament of Sri Lanka following a request made to the Speaker by the MP Dr. Mrs. Sudarshini Fernandopulle, and it was endorsed by the Ministry of Child Development and Women's Affairs and supported by UNICEF.
"Parliamentarians are in a unique leadership position to make long-lasting changes for children." said UNICEF's Representative to Sri Lanka, Una McCauley. "And UNICEF sincerely looks forward to working with the caucus to see how we can sustain the great progress already achieved for children in this country, while tackling some of the challenges they still face," she added.
The Chief Opposition Whip, Hon. John Amaratunga said "As parliamentarians, we all have a common responsibility to safe guard and promote the rights and well-being of our youngest constituencies - and that's the children of our nation" he said. "And I look forward to working with all Members of the House to put together a common action plan for all children in our country under the auspices of this newly created caucus."