PHILIPSBURG:---To get a further understanding of the situation of children on St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, UNICEF and the respective governments will organize consultation workshops with local experts and decision makers. UNICEF is analyzing the children’s rights on the island as a follow up of the research done in 2013.
The stakeholder consultation workshops kicked off on St. Maarten on Thursday, April 4th and 5th and will continue on St. Eustatius on April 8th, on Saba on April 11th, and on Bonaire on April 16th and 17th. “Although there are observable similarities between the four islands, each of the islands are different with unique challenges facing children’s rights. As such, the analysis was conducted with the specific contexts in mind and the findings will be discussed with the respective stakeholders accordingly”, said Paulette Nichols, UNICEF SitAn expert conducting the studies.
Analyzing progress and bottlenecks in realizing children's rights
UNICEF published Situation Analyses on the rights of children on St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba in 2013, which concluded that the children’s rights situation on the four islands did not fulfill all requirements of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; poverty, domestic violence, and limited data on children were among the issues reported. The objective of these new round of studies has been to analyze progress and remaining or new bottlenecks as it pertains to the realization of children’s rights since the last studies were published. Specifically for St. Maarten, the study also concentrates on adversity and risk for children in the aftermath of the 2017 hurricane and how have the social protection systems, including the child protection system, have responded to these changes.
During the consultation workshops, the findings are presented and discussed with local experts and decision makers under three rights-based thematic areas:
• The right to economic resources and a life with dignity, which centers on poverty and vulnerability.
• The right to protection from violence and exploitation, which centers on the protective environment.
• The living and nurturing environment centers on children’s rights to health, education, and participation.
The situation of adolescents and their transition into adulthood and the situation of migrant children and their families are cross-cutting themes.
Engagement of stakeholders
The studies started on the islands in November 2018 and continued into March 2019 with extensive interviews with key informants from NGOs and the child protection, health, and education sectors and focus group sessions including with children, adolescents, and single parents. The consultation workshops are a key follow-up step in the process serving to review, discuss, and validate findings, identify and address remaining information gaps, and, reach consensus on recommendations, key actions, and monitoring frameworks.
“Stakeholders have remained remarkably forthcoming and supportive throughout the studies demonstrating their commitment to advancing children’s rights on their islands. These consultation workshops maximize their engagement ensuring that they also contribute to the final outcome of the studies and take ownership of the recommendations and responsibility for the actions”, UNICEF’s La-Toya Charles, Project Lead on the SitAn’s.
Final reports to be published later this year.
Once the findings are validated and recommendations are formulated during the upcoming workshops, the studies will provide a basis for advice regarding current and future policy-making on children’s rights and identify actions that should be taken. The four final reports will be published later this year. The St. Maarten SitAn forms part of UNICEF’s post-Irma recovery project on St. Maarten funded by the Netherlands Red Cross. The SitAn’s on Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba are funded by the Dutch Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations.