The major challenge to Vietnam in the implementation of children’s rights is probably making sure that no children are left behind.

Representative of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Vietnam, Lottay Sylwander made the remark at a discussion on children’s rights hosted by the Swedish Embassy in Hanoi on Dec.13

This risk can be seen clearly in children of ethnic minorities and in remote and mountainous areas, poor children and children with disabilities, she said.

UNICEF’s analysis of the situation of children in Vietnam in 2010 showed that Vietnam had made tremendous progress for its children in a remarkably short period of time, with an unprecedented reduction in under-five mortality rates and poverty.

However, segments of child and adolescent populations in Vietnam continued to live in conditions of deprivation and exclusion, and ethnic minorities were among the poorest in the country, benefiting the least from the country’s economic growth, according to the report.

Vietnam’s concentrated efforts to fulfill the Millennium Development Goal on clean water supply and sanitation will improve children’s health and remove an obstacle for the country in the implementation of children’s rights, said the UNICEF representative.

At the discussion, representatives from the National Assembly’s Culture, Education, Youth and Children Committee, the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) and the Vietnam Association for Protection of Children’s Rights said that there many challenges the country is facing in implementing children’s rights. They include the awareness of families and society, inequality of development opportunities for poor children, risks in living environment and the application of the UN Convention on Children Rights to Vietnam’s legal framework and reality.

They also suggested measures, with a focus on promoting communications combined with improving skills for communicators, to raise community awareness, improve the legal system and policies to ensure harmony between the Children’s Rights Convention and Vietnam’s reality as well as increasing the role of social organisations.

According to Head of the Children’s Protection and Care Department under the MOLISA Nguyen Hai Huu, these solutions should be done synchronously, requiring time and widespread community participation.

Save the Children US Country Director Pham Sinh Huy said in the context where Vietnam joins the group of middle-income countries, children’s voices should continue to be heard.

Representatives of Vietnamese students from Son Tay senior secondary school, Hanoi expressed their wish for a reduction of theory-focused school subjects and for additional of more subjects that helped improve their living skills.

They also hoped for a safe environment for children to avoid child labour abuse, child trafficking and violence to children.

If they could change the world, the children also expected that children’s rights would be implemented equally./.