‘Drug-free Childhood’ conclave to urge nations to act on UNCRC Article 33

The international forum on drug-free childhood will call for interventions based on Article 33 of UNCRC

The formulation of a strategy towards effectively advocating with governments the need for policy and legislative interventions based on the Article 33 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) will be the main aim of the three-day international forum on drug-free childhood to get underway in the Kerala capital on November 16. The Article 33 obligates States Parties to protect children and youth from involvement with illicit drugs and drug trade.

The meet, titled ‘Children Matter- Right to a Drug-Free Childhood’, featuring speakers from across the world, is being organised by Fourth Wave Foundation (FWF) in partnership with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD).

Focus on UNCRC Article 33

By focusing on Article 33, which calls for steps to protect children from the use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, the meet aims at underscoring the need to create a substance abuse free environment for children world-wide, according to CC Joseph, Director, FWF.

The action plan advocating urgent measures to save children from falling prey to drugs, to be drawn up by the meet based on three days of extensive deliberations, will emphasise the need to step up awareness about Article 33 among all sections of people and ask governments to frame policies to further strengthen its implementation, he said.

Plenary sessions of the forum will have speakers like Regina Mattsson, Secretary General, WFAD, Sweden, Amy Ronshausen, International President, WFAD, USA, civil society members, policymakers, child rights advocates, government representatives, prevention-treatment-recovery professionals and youth leaders from across the globe.

FWF’s own initiative “Project Venda,” which seeks to empower children and young adults to say ‘No’ to drugs, will figure prominently in one of the sessions dealing with global best practices in containing substance abuse by empowering children and young adults, FWF Director Diana Vincent said.

Currently, ‘Project Venda’ is being carried out in seven districts of the State, namely Kozhikode, Malappuram, Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Idukki, and Thrissur–listed as vulnerable under the National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction.

“The conclave will discuss the significance of UNCRC Article 33 at a time when the menace of drug abuse among children and youth has shown an alarming spike in the country. Through this forum we expect both the Union and State governments to adopt measures to build a substance abuse free world, Joseph said.

Child-focused prevention plans, treatment protocols, deaddiction rehabilitation, counselling care and treatment centres have become the need of the hour. The forum with global participation will work to formulate strategic approaches that could be adopted by governments to put a check on substance abuse, he said.

253 mn children in India vulnerable to substance abuse

By adopting UNCRC, in 1989, world leaders have helped in transforming children’s lives across the world. But, in an increasingly challenging global environment, today’s children are exposed to severe threats to their rights.

Studies show children aged between 11 – 14 are vulnerable to exposure to substance abuse. In India 253 million children in the age group of 10-19 years are found to be vulnerable to substance use. According to the latest reports, in the last five years, there has been an alarming rise of 125% in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substance cases in Kerala.

According to the World Drug Report, there will be an 11% increase in drug use by 2030. The surge will mostly appear in lower-income nations, estimated to encompass 40% of the total increase.

More than 300 participants from around 60 countries will attend the event, the first of its kind organised in Asia on this topic.

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