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Mon, Nov 22, 1999 - Page 2 News List

Two welfare groups visit World Child Summit

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Two child welfare groups leave for Macedonia today to represent Taiwan at the three-day 10th World Child Summit. This is the first time Taiwan has been invited to this UN-related NGO conference, officials at the Taiwan Children's Rights Association (台灣兒童?H協會) and World Vision Taiwan (台灣世界展望會) said.

Established in 1989, the World Child Summit has invited member states to join the UN Convention for Children's Rights. Yet, even though it is a non-member of the convention, Taiwan was invited for the first time by the Children's Parliament of Macedonia because of its diplomatic relations with the country, said Lai Ching-lin (賴勁麟), a DPP legislator and the president of the Taiwan Child-ren's Rights Association.

The agenda for this year's World Child Summit is the implementation of the Convention of Children's Rights in all member states. "It's also a chance to evaluate how much effort Taiwan should make in order to join the Convention," said Lai.

Lai and the Taiwan Children's Rights Association will also present a report on children's human rights in Taiwan.

Lai also said he would emphasize Taiwan's willingness to join the Convention for Children's Rights.

According to the association's report, children in Taiwan are very often exposed to danger, especially at home.

There were 4,871 child abuse cases reported to the Ministry of Internal Affairs this year, which was a 13.99 percent increase from last year.

The biggest cause of child death is accidents. Over 1,000 children were killed by accidents last year. Forty-one percent occurred at home.

According to Lai, joining the convention would have at least two benefits for Taiwan. First, he said, the convention serves to monitor the condition of child-ren's rights and thus would help in urging the government and social groups to improve child welfare.

"Second, this is an alternative diplomatic breakthrough for Taiwan," he said. "The Convention for Children's Rights is one of the few UN organizations that doesn't require UN membership.

"And because it [the convention] is a non-political group for the advancement of human rights, participation can be a positive way to make Taiwan more visible to the international community."

However, the Department of Child Welfare Affairs is less enthusiastic. The last response given by the Ministry of Interior to Lai's questions in July was that there was insufficient budget and staff to meet the requirements set out in the convention.

But interior minister Huang Chu-wen (黃主?? said he fully supported the efforts of social groups attempting to join the convention.

"This shows that there is no consensus among welfare officials," Lai said.

Apart from Lai's group, World Vision Taiwan is sending two children representatives to participate in the summit.

Hsu Hao-heng (徐皓?), 16, was chosen by World Vision to join International Care for Children in Thailand, to report on anti-child prostitution plans along with 25 children reporters from other countries.

Ko Yu-feng (柯玉鳳), an Aborigine from the Taroko tribe, will also represent Taiwan.

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