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The Progress of Nations 1997

The day will come  when nations will be judged  not by their
military or economic strength,  nor by the splendour of
their capital  cities and public buildings,  but by the
well-being of their peoples:  by their levels of health,
nutrition and education; by their opportunities to earn a
fair reward for their labours; by their ability to
participate in the decisions that affect their lives; by the
respect that is shown for their civil and political
liberties;  by the provision that is made for those who are
vulnerable and disadvantaged;  and by the protection that is
afforded to the  growing minds and bodies of their children.
The Progress of Nations, published annually  by the United
Nations Childrens Fund, is  a contribution towards that day.

                           * * * *
1. Foreword by Kofi A. Anan, Secretary-General United Nations

2. Charting progress for children:  Introduction by Carol Bellamy,
   UNICEF Executive Director

3. Water and Sanitation
   Commentary - The Sanitation gap: Development's deadly menace
   3.1 Sanitation League Table
   3.2 Water/sanitation gap widening
   3.3 79% of all guinea worm cases occurring in Sudan
   3.4 Grading school sanitation: Few high marks
   3.5 Making ORT a household habit

4. Nutrition 
   Commentary - Putting babies before business
   4.1 Nutrition League Table
   4.2 Exclusive breastfeeding: A chance for survival
   4.3 One in five babies too small at birth
   4.4 Stunting: A scar and a wound
   4.5 Slow starters catching up in salt iodization

5. Health
   Commentary - Fighting AIDS together
   5.1 Gauging AIDS' terrible toll
   5.2 Health League Table
   5.3 Pneumonia: K=Little progress on a big killer
   5.4 52 countries falling short on immunization goal for DPT
   5.5 Neonatal deaths: 5 million each year
   5.6 Malaria's death toll: A child every 30 seconds

6. Education
   Commentary - Quality education: One answer for many
   6.1 Doing more with less
   6.2 Girls' education: Commitment or neglect?
   6.3 Maths and science: Some developing countries score high
   6.4 Do teachers make the grade?
   6.5 Rural kids short-changed

7. Women
   Commentary - The intolerable status quo: Violence against
                women and girls
   7.1 Women's League Table
   7.2 Outlawing violence against women: A first step
   7.3 Risk of death in childbirth can be as high as 1 in 7
   7.4 A bill of rights for women, but with reservations
   7.5 Help wanted: Skilled birth attendants

8. Special Protections
   Commentary - No age of innocence: Justice for children
   8.1 Old enough to be a criminal?
   8.2 Over 7 million children are refugees
   8.3 Hidden killers
   8.4 The cost of war: Billions for development diverted to

9. Industrialized Countries
   Commentary - Healthy cities, healthy children
   9.1 Youth unemployment rate highest in Spain, lowest in Austria
       and Switzerland
   9.2 Teens at risk: Drinking and bullying
   9.3 Sharing the wealth? Aid at lowest level in 45 years

10 Statistical Tables
    Social Indicators for Less Populous Countries

   Statistical Profiles for 149 countries
    The age of the data
    Statistical tables are available at the UNICEF website
                      * * * *

8. Special Protections

No age of innocence:  Justice for children

Lisbet Palme*

Whether due to government paternalism or to simple disregard
for their rights, juveniles who come into conflict with the
law often face justice systems that treat them capriciously
and offer fewer protections than they offer adults. Children
in many countries face the wrath of the law for the crimes of
being poor, neglected or abused. Regardless of the reasons for
their offences, young people are entitled to fair treatment at
the hands of juvenile justice 
systems that are designed to aid youngsters return to
productive society as quickly as possible.

No one can question the notion that children are entitled to
the fundamental necessities of life: love and nurturance, food
and shelter, health care and education. But the understanding
and acceptance of another fundamental entitlement - due
process of law - is harder to come by. Few countries take
seriously a young person's right to fair treatment at the
hands of the justice system; few adults even realize that
juveniles have this right. When young people come into
conflict with the law, instead of finding compassion and help,
they often face harsh punishment, and without the legal
protections that adults have.

Sometimes young offenders are penalized just as if they were
adults, with the maturity and experience to distinguish
between right and wrong on a grown-up level. Sometimes they
face even worse: Adults must be accused of breaking the law
before they can be legally detained, but in many countries a
judge can put children in jail simply because of 'irregular
conduct' - they are dirty or are sleeping on the street or
have lost their identity papers.

Sometimes the authorities put a benevolent face on the
punishment, incarcerating children 'for their own protection'.
In India, for example, police can apprehend young people if
they are likely to be abused or exploited for immoral or
illegal purposes or wrongful gains - in other words, any child
who is poor is liable to be victimized by the criminal system
in the name of altruism.

And sometimes juveniles in detention are abused physically and
sexually, in some cases even tortured, by those who are
supposed to guard them.

This treatment is inhumane, and it is inconsistent with the
Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted by
the United Nations General Assembly in 1989 and has been
ratified by all but two countries on earth (Somalia and the
United States). When young people come into conflict with the
law, they need help, not retribution.

I was only 20 years old when I started to work for and with
children in detention. My experience over the years has only
strengthened my conviction that we must develop juvenile
justice systems that are compassionate and rational. Our
children are entitled to fair treatment, and society as a
whole will benefit when they receive it.

Injustice to juveniles

Let us be clear about this: Juveniles are being subjected to
grave injustices at every moment in countries around the
globe. In Jamaica, children as young as 10 are held for
indeterminate periods of time, often with adults, in dank
detention cells. In Egypt, children who work as prostitutes
are not only sexually exploited for commercial purposes but
are criminalized and also face harsher penalties than adult
sex workers. In Rwanda, youngsters below the country's age of
criminal responsibility (14) are imprisoned in connection with
the nation's re-cent genocide.

In Australia, aboriginal children are incarcerated at 18 times
the rate of non-aboriginals. In Sudan, children are subject to
punishments that include flogging, amputation and execution.
In Kenya, up to 120 children a week find themselves in
Nairobi's juvenile court for the 'crime' of being homeless.
The majority of children in the West Bank who are sentenced
according to Israeli security laws have no legal right to a

In just the past 15 years, nine countries are known to have
put offenders to death for crimes they committed as juveniles.
In the US, 137 juveniles have been sentenced to death since
1973, and nine of them have been executed for crimes committed
when they were under 18. While China has outlawed capital
punishment for children under 18, in practice 16-year-olds can
be sentenced to death - although the sentence is suspended
until they reach 18.

Young people accused of heinous crimes comprise a tiny
percentage of the juveniles who come into contact with the
criminal justice system. The tragedy is that the great
majority of juvenile offenders have committed minor crimes or
are guilty of nothing at all. Many of those held in custody
have not even been convicted - they are simply awaiting trial,
sometimes for extremely long periods of time. In Lebanon, for
instance, 90 per cent of incarcerated children are waiting to
be tried, some for as long as two years.

The percentage of children who are in custody is one
indication of how effectively countries are dealing with young
offenders. In Italy, with a population of 57 million, about
650 juveniles are being detained on a typical day. But in the
US, with a population just 5 times greater than Italy's, 150
times more children are detained - almost 100,000 young
people. This wholesale locking away of young people cannot be
justified on any terms.

Most countries take a passive attitude towards juvenile
justice, as evident from the lack of accountability. Very few
governments even keep track of how many children are involved
with the criminal justice system. Any country's national
statistics office can tell you the percentage of children who
were born underweight, have been immunized, are enrolled in
school. But ask what percentage of children are incarcerated
and in most cases you will receive no precise answer. How can
we possibly be caring properly for our children if we lack
such fundamental information? 

Governments around the world have agreed to track statistics
on child health and development as a way to support their
children's progress. Governments must develop similar
indicators about how their young people fare in the justice
system. At a minimum, every country should know how many
children are being held, for how long and why. 

The roots of conflict 

I believe fervently that youthful offenders are made, not
born, and that the vast majority would not be made if troubled
young people had the benefit of loving nurturance from
supportive parents, schools (including pre-schools) and
communities. When that support is wanting, they should come
under the care of youth guidance authorities. Most children
fall into conflict with the law because such assistance is
simply not available or does not operate properly. 

Impoverished young people experience society's linkage between
poverty and crime from an early age. Many of them become
involved with the police and the justice system simply because
they appear poor or socially undesirable, or because they
'look' dangerous - not because they have broken any law.

You don't have to probe very far into the backgrounds of
children who wind up in police stations and courtrooms to find
a common denominator: poverty. In developing countries,
poverty often forces children out of the house when they are
as young as 10, sometimes even younger. They may never have
had the opportunity to go to school, or may have attended
irregularly or been 'pushed' out, their performance hindered
by hunger or distance from the school. Civil unrest may have
forced them to flee their rural home for the city, where 
they arrived without papers and became separated from family
members or friends. 

At any rate, these young people are probably living on the
street, where destitution may lead them to steal from a shop,
pick someone's pocket or barter the only thing they own -
their bodies - for survival.

In the industrialized countries, many young people are
surrounded by wealth but live in deprivation, taunted by the
unattainable riches of a consumer society. Growing up in
neighbourhoods where every corner has its drug dealer, and
lacking the role model of grown-ups who go to legitimate jobs
every morning, some find it impossible to resist the
temptation of the drug trade's easy money. Eventually the
police catch up with them. That is often the start of a life
in which they know their probation officers better than their

These children have been discarded by their families and their
societies, and they hear that message loud and clear. With the
gap between the rich and the poor continuing to grow, we can
expect to see even more 'discarded' children in the coming

A decision by a police officer or a judge to detain a child on
the basis of some vague infraction like vagrancy or suspicion
of misconduct can expose him or her to callous injustice or to
a system that is overloaded, uncaring and often designed for
adults. When poor children are accused of more serious crimes,
they typically receive the inferior services of overworked
lawyers - if they get any legal representation at all. Once
stigmatized by a criminal record, these juveniles become
scapegoats for the complex problems that adult society has
been unable to solve. 

On the other hand, some young people who should be handled by
the justice system escape it altogether. In most societies,
well-to-do parents can often make use of social connections to
'take care of' any charges brought against their children when
they come into conflict with the law, even when the
accusations are serious.

The first step towards ensuring fair justice for all juveniles
is identifying the 'many' - those in need of social services -
and separating them from the criminal justice system so it can
function for the 'few' - the serious offenders. The
involvement in the justice system of children whose only
'crime' is poverty also pads the juvenile crime statistics,
which in turn inflame media accounts of marauding young

When responsibility begins

All countries have an age at which people become adults in the
legal sense of the word - they can vote, sign legal contracts,
marry. But the Convention on the Rights of the Child calls for
countries to establish a minimum age below which young people
"shall be presumed not to have the capacity to infringe the
penal law"in other words, an age below which they are too
young to be responsible for their actions and therefore too
young to face criminal sanctions. 

But this age varies widely, and in many cases it is far too
young: The age of criminal responsibility is 7 years in, for
example, Bangladesh, India, Ireland, Jordan, Liechtenstein,
Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Sudan, Switzerland,
Tanzania and Thailand. Under common law, the age is also 7 in
most US states. A child barely old enough to go to school
cannot possibly have the maturity to understand the
consequences of his or her behaviour. 

Given that such young children can be subject to the penal
code, it is all the more important that each country establish
a humane and constructive juvenile justice system. Such a
system is designed to deal with young offenders until they
reach the age of adulthood. In an ideal world it serves as a
safety net, catching children who commit petty offences and,
instead of locking them away, helping them learn a sense of
responsibility for their actions. The system should be based
on knowledge of child development. At the same time, the
juvenile justice system must protect society from potentially
dangerous criminals.

In many countries, a few brutal, highly publicized crimes by
young people have led to public demands to lower the age at
which children are held criminally responsible. Government
leaders must resist the temptation to reduce the juvenile
justice system to a structure for retribution designed for the
rare hardened child criminal. Glib slogans like 'Adult time
for adult crime' betray the very people that society has
failed and encourage 'warehousing' of juveniles - in prisons
that in reality serve as training grounds for criminals.

Preventing juvenile crime

There is no question that preventing crime is preferable to
punishing it. Never is that more true than in the case of
juvenile delinquency, so often a cry for help from a troubled

The UN Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency,
known as the 'Riyadh Guidelines', recognize the importance of
preventing young people from being stigmatized by the justice
system. The Guidelines call for the development of measures
that avoid criminalizing and penalizing a child for behaviour
that does not cause serious damage to the development of the
child or harm to others. This statement sends a profound
message: Preventing juvenile delinquency or crime is not just
a matter of protecting society - its aim is to help children
overcome their misdeeds and fulfil their potential. It is also
less costly and more efficient for society to prevent young
people from starting on criminal careers than to pay for the
outcome of criminal behaviour.

Many programmes have been established to help young people. In
the Canadian province of Ontario, a Reasoning and
Rehabilitation Project run by probation officers helps
juveniles to modify impulsive behaviour and learn alternative
responses to interpersonal problems. Recidivism has fallen
dramatically among the participants. In the Netherlands,
Project HALT requires vandals to personally compensate their
victims but in such a way that avoids stigmatizing them with
the label of 'criminal'.

In Morocco, children's clubs in four cities offer recreational
and cultural activities for urban children aged 7 to 12. The
clubs also offer moral support and guidance to help young
people remain in school. 

The Philippines has a programme, begun in 1986, that focuses
on substance abuse, sexual exploitation and children in
conflict with the law. Active in 32 cities, it includes a
range of activities to support street children and prevent
juvenile delinquency. Belgium, Israel and the Netherlands all
have a Children's Rights Shop where young people can find help
for problems relating to the law and their rights.

Young people who commit offences should bear the
responsibility for their actions - but they must be held
accountable in a manner appropriate to their level of
maturity. Treating the few serious offenders fairly but firmly
will take the heat off the many who are unfairly labelled as
delinquents or worse. 

Those who are found guilty need help to reintegrate into
society, to develop opportunities leading to a meaningful
life. They also need the best professional help that society
can provide. The countries with the best juvenile justice
records are those that keep contact between youth and the
police, courts and jails to a minimum. 

Many countries have far to go. For example, England sometimes
incarcerates its young offenders for indeterminate periods.
The Russian Federation has no juvenile courts, judges,
prosecutors or lawyers. In Yemen, the law allows for the
arbitrary detention of children.

Societies may differ as to how they interpret fundamental
human values, but in all societies the expectation of
responsible behaviour increases as a child grows. We cannot
legitimately expect a seasoned, mature understanding of the
subtleties of right and wrong from adolescents, especially
those who have suffered from abuse or neglect. Article 39 of
the Convention specifically calls for countries to take
measures to promote the recovery and social reintegration of
such child victims. We are dealing with human beings who are
still developing. Our goal must be to help mend what has gone
wrong and prepare them for later success - not simply to
punish them.

Real justice for juveniles

Fortunately, we have a useful tool for developing our juvenile
justice systems: the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It
establishes broad rights for children, and ratifying countries
pledge to reform their laws to fulfil those rights. Among its
many benefits, the Convention has served as a wake-up call to
countries that have not adequately addressed the issue of
juvenile justice.

The Convention, which defines children as people below the age
of 18, lays out specific guidelines for the treatment of any
child who runs afoul of the law. Among its provisions,
children are presumed innocent until proved guilty and are
entitled to appropriate legal counsel and fair resolution
without delay. It stipulates that children accused of
infringing the penal code must be treated in a way that
promotes their sense of dignity and takes into account the
desirability of assuming a constructive role in society. It
prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, including
capital punishment or life imprisonment without possibility of
release. It stresses that detention should only be a measure
of last resort and only for the shortest period of time. 

The underlying message is clear: The best interests of the
child must be at the heart of any juvenile justice process.
For those young people found guilty of criminal behaviour, the
emphasis should be on reintegration, not retribution. 

Along with the Convention and the Riyadh Guidelines (adopted
in 1990), we have guidance from the UN Rules for the
Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty (1990) and
the Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile
Justice (1985), also known as the 'Beijing Rules'. The Beijing
Rules provide guidance to member States in developing measures
to protect the human rights of children in conflict with the
law. Underscoring once again the importance of placing the
child's best interests at centre stage, the first of the
Fundamental Perspectives of these rules is: "Member States
shall seek, in conformity with their respective general
interests, to further the well-being of the juvenile and her
or his family." 

Reasoned responses

Prodded by the Convention, many countries are beginning the
process of making their laws responsive to the needs of
juvenile offenders. In Latin America, a remarkable reform of
juvenile justice has been under way since 1990, paralleling
the region's dramatic democratization process. Brazil led the
way with its Statute for Children and Adolescents, adopted
following a fervent outcry provoked by widely publicized
violence against children who were living on the streets. 

The Statute sets out strict guidelines to ensure the rights
and freedoms of juveniles in conflict with the law, including
a specification that detention be used as a last resort and
only for the shortest appropriate period of time. Bolivia,
Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador,
Guatemala and Peru have also enacted such measures, and reform
is under consideration in Chile, Colombia, Nicaragua and

In a first step towards more progressive laws, Chile passed a
measure in 1994 that prohibits incarceration of juveniles in
adult prisons. By 1996, the number of juveniles held in adult
institutions had fallen by more than half, to less than 2,000.
In Costa Rica, about 140 juveniles were deprived of their
liberty before passage of reform legislation in 1996. After
its passage, the number dropped to 40. This is the result of
rationalizing the system so that those accused of minor
offences receive the help they need for successful
reintegration into society, leaving only serious offenders in

One example of a reasoned approach to juvenile justice is New
Zealand's The Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act
of 1989. The legislation aims to separate welfare issues from
justice issues and to mete out justice through consensus,
rather than heavy-handed government intervention. The measure
recognizes the special needs of young people by involving
family members in the justice process and bringing in outside
agencies that can offer real rehabilitation alternatives. The
majority of youth are diverted from criminal courts and
confinement institutions.

In addition, New Zealand's process underscores the value of
partnerships. By involving non-governmental organizations
(NGOs), outside legal counsel and young people and their
families, the juvenile justice system remains open. This
openness reinforces something that young people need to know:
The door into that system swings both ways - it does not lock
forever behind them. 

A unique opportunity for reform arose in South Africa with the
swift ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the
Child in 1995 and President Nelson Mandela's enthusiastic
endorsement of the Convention. The process combined the
framework of international instruments with traditional
African methods of conflict resolution. Based on the spirit of
ubuntu, or community approach, these strategies encourage the
participation of the child, family and community.

Likewise in Namibia, independence and the ratification of the
Convention provided an opportunity to further juvenile justice
reform. Efforts began after a 1993 study found that 90 per
cent of children had been sentenced without legal
representation, and those sentenced to serve time were being
sent to adult prisons. Now, a screening process has been
established to divert juveniles in the capital, Windhoek, away
from the justice system where possible. The condition is that
they complete a life-skills course, which teaches responsible
decision-making. Young people are increasingly being held
separately from adults in Namibia, and a police training
manual has been prepared to assist in developing the skills of
law enforcement officials in dealing with juveniles.

With the adoption of a Child Protection Code in 1996, Tunisia
embarked on an effort to create a culture of child rights
throughout the country. The Code requires that children in
conflict with the law be consulted and that their cases be
heard in juvenile courts presided over by specially trained

In Scotland, offenders under age 16 appear before a
'children's hearing', which is not considered a court of law
and has no punitive options. In the West Bank, lawyers from
Defense for Children International (DCI-Israel and
DCI-Palestine) have worked together to represent minors in
Israeli and Palestinian courts. Although there is not yet a
juvenile justice system in Gaza, a cooperative training
project of DCI-Israel and Palestinian Lawyers for Human Rights
has provided training to build such a system.

For the most part, I am proud of the attention my country,
Sweden, has given to juvenile justice. The system emphasizes
care by social service agencies for anyone under 21. Children
under 15 may not be sentenced under the penal code, and only
in rare cases is imprisonment allowed for a child under 18. A
prison sentence is allowed for young people between 18 and 21
only if the crime is especially serious, and life imprisonment
is not permitted for a crime committed by anyone younger than
21. However, in recent years we have seen a number of heinous
crimes committed by young people in Sweden. In these cases the
courts have seen no alternative to a prison sentence. A recent
government report has proposed new alternatives for these
offenders, such as special youth homes.

Some countries have so far faltered in their attempts to
reform their juvenile justice systems. India's Juvenile
Justice Act of 1986, designed to promote uniform treatment on
the basis of minimum UN standards, has faced spotty
implementation. The Act supports separate systems for handling
destitute children and delinquent children, promotes humane
and non-institutional services and emphasizes NGO
participation. But in action it has not proved to be very
child-friendly. Officials who deal with children have not been
adequately trained, and while the State is empowered to take
charge, it is not obligated to care and protect.

The Lao People's Democratic Republic has not developed a
system of juvenile justice. Eritrea incarcerates children from
age 12 together with adults. Fiji's Juvenile Act of 1974
establishes separate courts and detention centres for
children. But the reform undermined some of the compassionate
aspects of the traditional courts, and efforts are under way
to re-establish them.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child, to which countries
report on their efforts to implement the Convention, has
ex-pressed concern about juvenile justice procedures in a
number of countries. Based on a review of reports from 51
countries, the Committee explicitly suggested legal reform in
37 countries. Obviously there is much to be done, but I am
encouraged by the fact that juvenile justice is finally on the
world's agenda.

The path to adulthood is uncharted. As young people travel it,
they must negotiate around more obstacles than ever before.
Sometimes they stumble. When they come into conflict with the
law, they have the right to fair treatment by a justice system
designed for rehabilitation, not retribution. The creation of
that system is a responsibility that we all must carry on our
shoulders. If we do not, who will?  

                            # # # # #

*Lisbet Palme, a psychologist specializing in children, is a
member of the Swedish child and Youth Advisory Committee and
the International Negotiation Network of the Carter center's
Conflict Resolution Program. She chaired the national and
international Preparatory Committees of the World Congress
against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (Stockholm,
1996) and is representing her Government in follow-up work to
the Congress.  Mrs. Palme also served as a member of the
Eminent Persons Group of the UN Study on the Impact of Armed
Conflict on Children. She is Chairperson of the Swedish
Committee for UNICEF.

Special Protections
Progress and Disparity

Old enough to be a criminal?

Children below a certain age are too young to be held
responsible for breaking the law. That concept is spelled
out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which
calls for nations to establish a minimum age "below which
children shall be presumed not to have the capacity to
infringe the penal law." But the Convention does not set a
specific age, and it varies greatly. 

International standards, such as the Beijing Rules for
juvenile justice, recommend that the age of criminal
responsibility be based on emotional, mental and
intellectual maturity and that it not be fixed too low. 

The Committee on the Rights of the Child, which monitors
countries implementation of the Convention, has recommended
that the age be guided by the best interests of the child. 

In the US, the age of criminal responsibility is established
by state law. Only 13 states have set minimum ages, which
range from 6 to 12 years old. Most states rely on common
law, which holds that from age 7 to age 14, children cannot
be presumed to bear responsibility but can be held

In Japan, offenders below age 20 are tried in a family
court, rather than in the criminal court system. In all
Scandinavian countries, the age of criminal responsibility
is 15, and adolescents under 18 are subject to a system of
justice that is geared mostly towards social services, with
incarceration as the last resort. As of April 1997, only 15
juveniles were serving a prison sentence in Sweden.

In China, children from age 14 to 18 are dealt with by the
juvenile justice system and may be sentenced to life
imprisonment for particularly serious crimes. 

In most countries of Latin America, the reform of juvenile
justice legislation is under way. As a result, the age of
adult criminal responsibility has been raised to 18 in
Brazil, Colombia and Peru. Children from age 12 to 18 are
held responsible under a system of juvenile justice.

The wide variation in age of criminal responsibility
reflects a lack of international consensus, and the number
of countries with low ages indicates that many juvenile
justice systems do not adequately consider the child's best
Age of criminal responsibility is just one variable
influencing how juveniles are treated by justice systems.
Other variables include whether there is a separate juvenile
law based on child rights; whether a young person is subject
to punitive sanctions or only to socio-educational measures;
and whether the country has separate court systems and jails
for young people. A juvenile justice system provides legal
protections and an objective standard for treatment. In its
absence, young people may be handled by the adult criminal
justice system or be held in 'protective' custody, where
they have no legal protections and may face arbitrary or
harsh treatment.

Age of criminal responsibility
Minimum age below which children are not subjected to penal
law in countries with 10 million or more children under 18
years old
Mexico              6-12*
Bangladesh             7
India                  7
Myanmar                7
Nigeria                7
Pakistan               7
South Africa           7
Sudan                  7
Tanzania               7
Thailand               7
United States          7**
Indonesia              8
Kenya                  8
U.K. (Scotland)        8
Ethiopia               9
Iran                   9***
Philippines            9
Nepal                 10
U.K. (England)        10
U.K. (Wales)          10
Ukraine               10
Turkey                11
Brazil                12
Colombia              12
Korea, Rep.           12
Morocco               12
Uganda                12
Algeria               13
France                13
Poland                13
Uzbekistan            13
China                 14
Germany               14
Italy                 14
Japan                 14
Russian Fed.          14
Viet Nam              14
Egypt                 15
Peru                  15
Argentina             16
Brazil                18****
Colombia              18****
Peru                  18****
Congo, Dem. Rep.       -

*Age determined by state; most states have minimum age of 11
or 12.
**Age determined by state; minimum age is 7 in most states
under common law.
***Age 9 for girls, 15 for boys.

Sources: CRC Country Reports (1992-1996); Juvenile Justice
and Juvenile Delinquency in Central and Eastern Europe,
1995; United Nations, Implementation of UN Mandates on
Juvenile Justice in ESCAP, 1994; Geert Cappelaere,
Children's Rights Centre, University of Gent, Belgium.

Special Protections
Progress and Disparity

Over 7 million children are refugees

More than half the world's refugees are children under 18
years of age, according to estimates based on a survey by the
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Although the number of child refugees worldwide has declined
from a record 10.2 million in 1993, at 7.4 million it is still
greater than the entire population of Switzerland.

Of a total 13.2 million refugees, the greatest number, 2.7
million, have fled Afghanistan. Bosnia and Herzegovina is the
home country of the second highest number, 1 million.

Iran is sheltering the largest number of refugees, with 2
million people from Afghanistan and Iraq. Pakistan, the
second-ranking country of asylum, currently has 1.2 million
refugees from Afghanistan.

Refugees - those crossing national borders to seek safety -
represent about one third of the total number of people
uprooted by conflicts or persecution. UNHCR estimates that the
remaining two thirds, more than 30 million people, are
displaced within their own countries. If the proportion of
children among the internally displaced is similar to that
among refugees, then the combined total of uprooted children
worldwide is over 20 million. The internally displaced face
many of the same hardships as refugees but are often cut off
from assistance from relief organizations. 

Global refugee  population, 1975-1996
(millions of refugees)

Year                     Total    Refugees
                      refugees    age 0-17

1975                     2.4         1.3 
1976                     2.6         1.5 
1977                     2.8         1.6 
1978                     3.3         1.8 
1979                     4.6         2.6 
1980                     5.7         3.2 
1981                     8.2         4.6 
1982                     9.8         5.5 
1983                    10.4         5.8 
1984                    10.9         6.1 
1985                    10.5         5.9 
1986                    11.6         6.5 
1987                    12.4         6.9 
1988                    13.3         7.4 
1989                    14.8         8.3 
1990                    14.9         8.3 
1991                    17.2         9.6 
1992                      17         9.5 
1993                    18.2        10.2 
1994                    16.4         9.2 
1995                    14.4         8.1 
1996                    13.2         7.4 

Note: Children (aged 0-17 years) comprise 56% of total refugee
population, extrapolated from demographic data on sample of 4
million refugees.

Source: UNHCR, UNHCR at a Glance, Februarry 1997 and UNHCR,
The State of the World's Refugees: 1995.

Special Protections
Progress and Disparity

Hidden killers

In more than 60 countries around the world, over 115 million
anti-personnel landmines threaten lives and limbs.
Approximately 2.5 million new mines are laid each year.

Egypt has the largest number of mines, an estimated 23
million - a legacy of World War II and subsequent
Arab-Israeli wars. Iran has 16 million mines, the second
highest number, followed by Angola with 15 million. Bosnia
and Herzegovina is the most heavily mined country, with 152
mines per square mile. Together, Afghanistan, Angola and
Cambodia have suffered 85% of the world's landmine

Mine clearance is dangerous and costly: An anti-personnel
landmine costs as little as $3 to manufacture, but as much
as $300 to $1,000 to remove. The pace of de-mining lags far
behind that of new mines still being placed. Only about 15.6
million mines have been cleared (most of these in Egypt),
just 13% of the number in place. The cost of removing all
the active mines worldwide is estimated at $33 billion. 

A landmine kills or maims a person every 20 minutes - more
than 25,000 people a year. Of these victims, 5,000 to 6,000
are children. Angola has about 70,000 amputees, including
8,000 children - one amputee for every 154 persons. Most
casualties are civilians killed or injured after hostilities
have ended.

Hope for curbing this deadly plague centres around 'the
Ottawa process'. This initiative was launched with a global
NGO coalition calling for action at a conference last
October, when Canada invited every country to return to
Ottawa in December 1997 to sign a treaty forbidding the
production, use, stockpiling or export of anti-personnel
landmines. About 60 countries support this total ban, while
others have indicated partial support.

Existing and cleared landmines
                     Mines             Mines 
                    remaining          cleared
Egypt               23,000,000       11,000,000
Iran                16,000,000          200,000
Angola              15,000,000           80,000
Afghanistan         10,000,000          363,000
Cambodia            10,000,000           62,000
China               10,000,000          280,000
Iraq                10,000,000           21,000
Bosnia/Herzegovena   6,000,000               -
Viet Nam             3,500,000           59,000
Croatia              3,000,000          250,000
Mozambique           3,000,000           17,000
Other countries      6,214,000        3,228,000
Total              115,714,000       15,560,000
Source: Department of Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations, 
January 1997.

Special Protections
Progress and Disparity

The cost of war: Billions for development diverted to

Wars are doubly destructive, shattering lives and societies
and also forcing reallocation of resources that could be
used for longer-term development. Sorely needed development
aid has been increasingly shifted to emergency assistance
during the past decade - and even resources for emergency
aid have fallen short of people's needs. 

Government allocations for peace-keeping and contributions
for emergency humanitarian assistance (most of it due to war
rather than natural disasters) increased fivefold, from less
than $2 billion in 1985 to nearly $10 billion in 1994,
reflecting an upsurge in conflicts that have had a
devastating impact on civilians, especially children.

Despite this dramatic increase, contributions to UN agencies
for emergency aid have consistently fallen short of the
amounts requested. During 1992-1996, donors response to UN
emergency appeals fell short by an average of 28%. Of the
appeals for 14 countries in 1996 and early 1997,
contributions for 13 countries fell short of the amounts
required. The request for aid to Iraq had the greatest
shortfall, almost 60%.

UNICEF and other agencies strive to integrate emergency
programmes into longer-term development efforts, providing
immunizations, for example, and 'school-in-a-box' kits so
that children can continue learning. Despite these efforts,
however, conflicts undermine development.

In 1985, allocations for emergency aid and peace-keeping
were equivalent to 5% of total development aid from
industrialized countries. By 1994, these allocations had
reached over 16% of their total aid. This means that tens of
billions of dollars that could have been available for
long-term development have been shifted to help alleviate
the human costs of war.

                     UN Humanitarian assistance

                     as % of             Requirements        
                     requirements       (US$ millions)

Lebanon                     160.8                8.6
Chechnya (Russian Fed.)      90.5               13.1
Great Lakes Region (Africa)  86.1              564.9
Korea, Dem.                  80.2               43.6
Liberia                      78.2              114.9
Eastern Zaire                69.8              205.4
Yugoslavia (former)          68.7              799.5
Sierra Leone                 65.6               57.8
Angola                       56.6              201.5
Afghanstan                   52.6              124.0
Sudan                        51.4              107.6
Tajikistan                   48.5               22.2
Caucasus                     45.6              133.9
Iraq                         44.5               98.7

Note: Refers to appeals with end dates in 1996 or early

Source: UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs Web site at, April 1997

            Emergency aid and peacekeeping expenditures

              Emergency       Emergency                   
              aid -           aid -          International
              bilateral       multiateral    peacekeeping

1985             0.6             0.75           0.4
1990            1.13                l           0.5
1991            2.45             2.45           0.5
1992            2.59             2.45           1.8
1993            3.25             2.8            3.1
1994            3.47             2.9            3.4
1995            3.06             2.25           3.3

Source: OECD, Development Co-operation (1994 and 1996

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