CA Advocacy Campaign: Ensuring Child Rights issues in New Constitution

Background

Following the dramatic political change in the country in April 2006 and the decision to hold the constituent assembly elections by the interim parliament thereafter, it was for sure that there would be a new constitution. Children and their rights have for long been subject to political rhetoric. “Children are the future of the nation” is a statement that is not knew to us, but the reality is that their issues and concerns have long been neglected. To ensure that the country is able to involve children to a greater extent on issues and decisions that directly influence their lives, as well as in the communities in which they live, CZOP set out on a drive to ensure children’s voices are heard in the constitution drafting process. A consorted effort was made by CZOP in collaboration with the Consortium of organizations working for child participation to capture and reflect the views and suggestions of children.

 

2007-08-09- Flashback 

CZOP and Consortium of Organisation Working for Child Participation (Consortium), have come together as ‘CZOP and Consortium’ to undertake range of activities to promote child rights in the new Constitution. CZOP and Consortium has been succesful in organising series of national and district consultation with children, aimed at capturing the voices of their concern regarding child rights in the new and interim constitution 2063. Responding to the call of CA, CZOP and Consortium developed an Expert Submission through grass roots efforts as well as extensive research, and presented to the CA members. The Expert Submission is a set of recommendations of children’s rights under the fundamental, structural and procedural rights which should be included in Nepal’s new Constitution. 

Series of activities have been conducted to ensure these recommendations have been included. Similarly, CZOP encouraged CA members to form a child rights parliamentary forum to promote and advocate for children’s rights.

Major Goals and Objectives- 2010

  • To make the mechanism by creating a specialized committee/sub committee for children in CA
  • Sensitize on CA process, its importance and children's issues in new constitution to children and partners
  • Discourse on Child Rights and its importance
  • Critical review of the provisions of Child Rights in the Concept Papers, draft constitution and wide dissemination for opinion
  • To identify and built pressure on gaps on the Child Rights submission and proposed draft of a new constitution
  • Tangible recommendation to concerned CA Committees and Parliamentary parties for revision of the draft constitution
  • Pressurize for ratification of the constitution with comprehensive child rights provisions

Major Activities in brief:

CA Process documentation: The principal purpose of this is to capture the overall process of Constitution Assembly Advocacy Process into a document for future references. This documentation will capture the process, strategies adopted and learning form the entire process.

Media Campaign: As a part of CA Advocacy Campaign, Radio Jingle (PSA), having a message of children in their voices to ensure their participation in the constitution making process and to guarantee the child rights in the new constitution, has been aired through 3 FM Stations.

Working with CA Members: CZOP continuously worked with the CA members of 'Parliamentary Forum for Child Rights' (Created by CZOP and Consortium). In this process, CZOP organized a series of follow up meetings with CA members especially the members of Parliamentary Forum for Child Rights. This engagement with CA members with an agenda of child rights in the constitution making process, most of the recommended provisions regarding child rights, has been reflected on the concept paper and proposed draft of the constitution submitted by the constitutional assembly committees. Some of the highlights of engagement with CA members can be provided as follows:

  • Respond on CA thematic concept papers by CZOP: the harmonization workshop was held on Jan 7th 2010 to reach out all the influential CA members from various committees of CA: basically Judiciary committee, Constitution Drafting committee, Fundamental Rights and directive principle committee and Constitutional Bodies committee. It was a consultation with all the concerned CA members to find out what was left out in the reports presented by the subcommittees.
  • After the June 2009 meeting there was no follow up meeting with parliamentarians to materialize the concept of establishing informal CA Child Rights Parliamentary Forum. After a long vacuum only in March 2010 CZOP/Consortium CA working group organized the workshop at CCD to move forward the CA Child Rights Forum. The working group invited CA members who committed in May 2009 meeting to be child rights advocate in the parliament. The CA members who were in the meeting agreed to form informal CA Child Rights Parliamentary Forum. They also decided to call the larger group meeting of CA members. For that decided to send invitation letter to all 601 CA members. To take action for it they purposed Hon. Gagan Thapa as ad hoc coordinator. The meeting date was scheduled for the second week of April. Nonetheless because of the fluid political situation in the country and dilemma in CA, meeting could not take place. Afterwards individuals meeting with some of the key individual CA members for developing action plan of Child Rights Parliamentary Forum hold with following leaders: Pradeep Gyawali ( UML), Gagan Thapa (Nepali Congress), Sunil Babu Pant ( CPN United), Shanti Adhikari (UML), Gayatri Shah ( Nepal’s People Party), Dinanath Sharma ( UCPN Maoist).
  • In April 2010, Hon. Gagan Thapa called the meeting on National Child Rights Budget. Meeting was called by Honorable Gagan Thapa. All together four CA members including Gagan Thapa, Shanti Adhikari, Laxmi Pariyar and Gayatri Shah presented in the meeting. Representative from Child Rights Organizations also invited as an observer. The meeting was facilitated by CZOP/Consortium CA working group. The meeting identified the prominent child rights issues and developed one page concept note to submit various Ministries. Hon. Gagan Thapa requested to provide technical support to develop the concept note from CA working group.
  • In June 2010, Hon. Gagan Thapa, conducted lobby meeting with Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, Ministry of Local Development, Lilamani Paudel, Secretary of Prime Minster Office to increase child rights budget in 2010/011 fiscal year budget. Mr. Paudel committed to prioritize child protection issues in government policy and program for 2010/2011. And, CA working group of CZOP provided all the necessary support requested by Hon Gagan Thapa such as drafting the cover letter, providing concept papers etc.
  • In July 2010, The CA Child Rights Parliamentary Forum ad hoc committee conducted a meeting at hotel summit. The meeting was facilitated by CZOP/Consortium CA working group. The meeting was focused on up-coming priorities of the Ad Hoc Committee of Child Rights Parliamentary Forum. Meeting has made following action points for coming three months: i) Institutionalization of the Child Rights Parliamentary Forum with in CA with the support of CA chair person and CA general Secretary; ii) Activate Children’s sub-committee of legislative parliament for amplifying children’s rights in the parliament and increase accountability towards children organizing events/program and responding child rights violations; iii) Advocacy within Legislative parliament for TRC and Child Rights Act. In the meantime, Hon. Gagan Thapa met with Chairperson and Secretary General of Constitution Assembly. Both of them are very positive to form the Child Rights Parliamentary Forum. They also suggested calling the small low profile meeting in the beginning inviting CA members from all 25 political parties and make a decision for institutionalizing the Forum.
  • On the basis of the suggestion of CA Chairperson and General Secretary, Ad hoc committee organized another meeting at Hotel Himalaya at 25th July 2010. In the meeting representative from five political parties presented: UCPN Maoist, Nepali Congress, CPN (UML), CPN (ML), Madheshi Jana Adhikar Forum Nepal. The group of parliamentarians decided to form the ad hoc committee of CA Child Rights Parliamentary Forum. The decision is reflected in the minutes with their signature. To expand the membership, the Hon. Gagan Thapa took the responsibilities to circulate the letter to all the political parties to send their representative in the Forum. The previous strategies to send out the letter to all 601 CA members now have been dropped as suggested by CA Chairperson Hon. Subas Nembang. The group decided to inform the decision of forming Child Rights Parliamentary Forum to CA Chairperson and the General Secretary of CA for their acknowledgement, which is also reflected in the minutes.
  • In September 2010- Political Meeting: Constituent Assembly of Nepal extended its timeframe for one year on 28th May, 2010 and also rescheduled its plan of action. However, even after the completion of four months of extended timeframe, there has been no progress in constitution making process at all. A total seven thematic committees are yet to submit their concept notes to the CA plenary session for further discussion. While, the CA has planned to finalize its first draft of the constitution between October and November 2010, nevertheless, despite lobbying by some parliamentarians; it is hardly possible to have the first draft presented in the given time frame. Against this context CZOP/Consortium CA Working Group continuously raised the voices for the inclusion of children's rights in the new constitution working with likeminded CA members.
  • Interaction with the members of Technical Committee of High Level Political Task Force and Parliamentary Forum for Child Rights (Children's Caucus): CZOP organized a half day interaction program with the members of Technical Committee of High Level Task Force (HTLF) that is formed in order to reach political consensus within Constituent Assembly (CA). The program was organized on 28 November 2010 at Hotel Yak and Yeti by the initiatives of CA Advocacy Working group (of CZOP and Consortium). The major objective of this program was to draw the attention of members of Children's Caucus and the members involve in said committee towards the proposed provision of Concept Note for a new constitution and the recent decisions of HLTF regarding Citizenship and it's implication to children. The program Drew attention of the members of Technical Committee of HLTF towards implication of the decision of HLTF to Children regarding their Identity and Nationality. Likewise, Children's Caucus was oriented on the issues they need to advocate on behalf of Children in CA. Participated CA members and members of the committee expressed their solidarity and concern over the issues related to children. More, CA members committed to raise the issues pertaining to children on concerned meetings and committee.
  • Review and Sharing of 'Analysis on the proposed concept note of the new constitution in relevance to Child Rights' with stakeholders
  • Sharing meeting was organized on the occasion of Dr. Jean Zermatten’s visit to Nepal: CZOP and Consortium organized an interaction programme with Dr. Jean Zermatten and Prof. Yanghee Lee with an objective to reinforce the efforts of CZOP and Consortium to ensure child rights in the new Constitution and to exchange the views on constitution making process in terms of child rights provision on 25th March 2010 at World Vision International Meeting Hall. Representatives from CZOP and Consortium member organizations and expert from child rights institutions were present.
  • ‘Analysis of Concept Paper submitted by CA Committees in relevance to Child Rights provisions’: CA Advocacy Working group has analyzed the concept paper prepared by the Constitution Assembly Committees and disseminated the analyzing documents to the CA members of Parliamentary Forum for Child Rights created by CZOP and Consortium. CZOP believes that the continuous engagement on the constitution making process by creating pressure on CA members in regard to child rights would help to make a new constitution a child friendly.
  • Child participation on constitution making process: Capitalizing the opportunity of National Child Labor Conference held in Nepal on 6-9 of April, CZOP engaged with children consulting with them regarding the analysis of concept papers prepared by CA Committees in relevance to child rights provisions. Around 100 children from more than 15 districts across the country were participated in the program. 3 days Interaction sessions were facilitated by CZOP member organizations including the representatives from CA Advocacy Working Group.

Major Achievements of CA Advocacy Campaign

Achievements of the CA advocacy program should be looked at from two perspectives. 

First, One voice of NGOs/INGOs: 72 different organizations coming together to voice for children’s issues is a success in itself as it created a culture of working together. 

Secondly, Allies of Child Rights: The whole process of constitution drafting is not an end in itself. The concepts that emerged in the plan are beyond constitution drafting as has created allies for protecting child rights. In addition to this the CZOP also coordinated and advocated in solidarity on issues on citizen of children with Coalition of Equal Citizenship Rights.

Provision of Expert Submission included: It is a success for the campaigners that majority of recommendations of expert submission has been incorporated in the concept paper and proposed provision of draft constitution by the Fundamental and Directive Principle Committee of CA.

Commitment by Political Parties: Through lobbying and advocacy with CA committees and Political parties on a regular basis, the major political parties in Nepal signing a Child Rights Commitment which outlines nine points the parties will work for to ensure the realization of child rights in the new Constitution is a major achievement. This recognition of the importance of child rights is a crucial step toward the realization of the full potential of children in Nepal.

Parliamentary Forum for Child Rights: Through this campaign there was formation of a parliamentary forum (Separate mechanism) for child rights consisting of committed CA members for child rights.

Policy Analysis and Response: CZOP was able to critique and analyze various draft concept papers prepared by various thematic committees of CA and responded timely though policy dialogue/interaction in an appropriate time.

Publication: To better aware general public, civil society members, CA members, the group published various publications. This includes, Expert Submission, Child Friendly Materials on Expert Submission, Ensuring Child Rights in New Constitution, and Gap Analysis of Proposed Concept Papers in relevance to Child Rights Provision.

Meaningful discourse on Child Rights and its importance were carried out

Child Participation ensured in the constitution making process

Wide consultation with stakeholders nationally and internationally