Minister MacKay and Minister of State Yelich Mark 2013 Universal Children’s Day
November 19, 2013 - The Honourable Peter MacKay, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular), today marked Universal Children’s Day, which is also National Child Day in Canada.
Universal Children’s Day will be celebrated tomorrow, November 20, to commemorate the adoption of the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. As part of the celebration of National Child Day, Canada will be marking the 30th anniversary of the coming into force of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Canada is a party to both of these important conventions.
“Child abduction is a heinous criminal act that cannot be ignored; it can have devastating lifelong impacts on a child,” said Minister MacKay. “The Hague Convention is the only international mechanism that helps left-behind parents who are seeking the return of children abducted internationally. Thousands of children have been returned home as a result of the Convention. The cooperation between Canada’s federal and provincial governments ensures that parents are supported during this difficult process.”
“Our government recognizes that each consular case involving a child is unique, which is why we created the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit, which is responsible for issues that affect children,” said Minister of State Yelich. “We trust that by placing a specific emphasis on children, we can prevent and achieve faster resolutions to these unfortunate cases.”
On the eve of National Child Day, Minister MacKay and Minister of State Yelich want to inform Canadians that the Government of Canada has enhanced its capacity to provide consular support to children and their parents abroad by creating a specialized unit responsible for issues that affect children, such as child protection, abduction, child, early and forced marriage and child welfare. This unit currently has more than 1,200 active cases.
Canada also continues to provide and improve tools and resources such as the interactive consent letter, which it is recommended that both parents sign before their children travel abroad without one or both parents.
For more information, please visit Travelling with children.
A backgrounder follows.
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For further information, media representatives may contact:
Office of the Minister of Justice
Department of Justice
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular)
Backgrounder - Universal Children’s Day and National Child Day
In December 1954, the United Nations General Assembly, through its Resolution 836(IX), recommended that all countries institute a Universal Children’s Day to be observed as a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding about children. The resolution also recommended that Universal Children’s Day be observed as a day of activity devoted to promoting the ideals and objectives of the UN Charter and the universal welfare of children.
November 20 also marks the anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959 and its adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.
In Canada, National Child Day has been celebrated since Parliament enacted the Child Day Act in 1993. The Act officially designates November 20 as Child Day in Canada to promote awareness of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction seeks to protect children internationally from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention and to establish procedures to ensure their prompt return to the State of their habitual residence, as well as to secure protection for rights of access.
Enhanced Consular Support
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) has enhanced its capacity to provide consular support to children and their parents in the following ways:
- Consular cases related to children (i.e. child protection, abduction, child, early and forced marriage and child welfare) are assigned to specialized case management officers because such cases are often complex and difficult to resolve.
- Increased engagement with other government departments and provincial and territorial counterparts on joint efforts and issues involving children within Canada and abroad.
- Increased outreach to Canadian organizations and individuals capable of providing expert advice in the development of policy, and assistance to victims in cases of international child abductions, child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
- Enhanced capacity enables DFATD to liaise and cooperate more consistently with like-minded partners, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, to move forward on common child protection initiatives.
Travelling with Children and the Consent Letter
Travel.gc.ca offers useful information about travelling abroad with children. The website also provides a wealth of information, resources and tools on related topics, such as healthy travel, giving birth abroad, and international adoption, as well as an online, interactive consent letter, which it is recommended that each parent sign before their children travel abroad without one or both parents.
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