Government has signalled its strong support for Children’s Advocate, Faith Marshall-Harris, to be re-elected to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC).
Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Kirk Humphrey, today underscored the significant work done by the Children’s Advocate over the years, and urged members of the diplomatic corps to encourage their nations to also lend their support.
He made these comments during a meeting at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre this afternoon with Mrs. Marshall-Harris, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Simone Rudder, and members of the diplomatic corps.
“We are very happy with the candidate that we have in Mrs. Marshall Harris…. We believe that she will continue to do an excellent job. We are hopeful that you will return these good tidings to your capitals and to the necessary persons, and convey Barbados’ very strong desire to have our very strong candidate remain in the position that she now serves in,” Mr. Humphrey said.
He outlined that if granted the opportunity to continue serving on the Committee, Mrs. Marshall Harris has pledged to advance work on critical issues impacting the well-being of children.
Those, the Minister said, included the administration of child justice, access and development of a child friendly and centered course, access to education and online learning to end poverty in all its forms among children and young people, child marriage and teenage pregnancy, the abolition of corporal punishment, and all forms of violence, sexual exploitation, and abuse.
“I have every confidence, that if re-elected Mrs. Marshall Harris will continue to serve on the Committee with great distinction. Rest assured that she will fiercely defend the rights and interests of children all over the world. She will further ensure that the committee undertakes all requisite activities to ensure that children’s rights are upheld and are in sync with the relevant Sustainable Development Goals…,” Mr. Humphrey emphasised.
Mrs. Marshall-Harris was nominated by the Government for election to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, and is currently serving a four-year term, which runs from March 1, 2019, to February 28, 2023.
She is the only member of the Committee from the Caribbean, and the only one of three members from this hemisphere.
“From May 2021, she became vice chair and rapporteur on the UN CRC for the period 2021 to 2023. And so, as a collective Caribbean voice, we feel that it is important for us to maintain a distinct and distinctive Caribbean voice at the table, so that all of our issues will be ably recognised, supported and defended,” Minister Humphrey stated.
He added that she was named as the Children’s Champion by UNICEF in 2012, and represents children and their parents in pro bono cases, and champions their cause in various public fora.
“She has devoted the last 20 years to the upliftment, protection and defence of children, and maintains that this is her lifelong commitment. She is passionate and dedicated to the cause of protecting and empowering children, not only here in Barbados, but throughout the entire world. Her care for children’s issues is genuine…,” the Minister stated, before outlining a number of her significant achievements.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Marshall-Harris thanked Government and its officials for their support and efforts to assist her in the campaign for re-election.
“I am seeking re-election because I am conscious of the fact that my work is not done. COVID-19 curtailed a lot of my planned objectives for my tenure and I really want a number of issues properly ventilated within that Committee,” she stated.
Among the issues she identified were the state of education for children and children being deprived of their liberty. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child falls under the ambit of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
It comprises a body of 18 independent experts that monitors the implementation of the Rights of the Child Convention by countries, like Barbados, that are signatories to the Convention.