Belarus is interested in enhancing the dialogue with the UNICEF on the rights of children, Belarus' Education Minister Igor Karpenko said as he met with outgoing representative of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to Belarus Dr. Rashed Mustafa Sarwar in Minsk on 7 July, BelTA learned from the press service of the Education Ministry.
Igor Karpenko noted Belarus' high interest in maintaining and enhancing the dialogue with UNICEF, including in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals aimed at protecting and respecting children's rights and preserving their health. The minister expressed gratitude to the UNICEF Mission in Belarus and personally Dr. Rashed Mustafa Sarwar for his contribution to the implementation of the national plans and policy actions on the health of children and teenagers in Belarus (including children with special needs, orphans, refugee children), protection of children's rights, and prevention of bad habits, HIV/AIDS among children and young people.
The Education Ministry shares one of the key principles that underpins the new UNICEF country program for Belarus for 2016-2020 – Leaving No One Behind (i.e. without an individual approach) as well the key priorities of the program, such as creating a safe environment for children, realizing the rights of children with psychophysical development needs and disabilities, the prevalence of a social not medical approach to disability and disabled, creating a supportive environment to reduce the vulnerability of adolescents and to ensure their full participation in decision-making that relates to their lives.
The work on the fourth UNICEF country program for Belarus for the period 2021-2025 began at the end of 2019. During the meeting, it was noted that the the Education Ministry continues implementing the Child Friendly Cities Initiative (Brest hosted the international forum of child friendly cities in September 2019). Belarus has established national and urban coordinating centers to implement this initiative as a platform for the localization of the Sustainable Development Goals; there are children's and youth parliaments (councils) influencing decisions in the interests of children, and regional resource centers for youth initiatives. The country is implementing the inclusive education concept and is promoting mediation as one of the most promising methods of conflict resolution involving a third neutral party. The National Action Plan for Improving the Situation of Children and Protection of Their Rights for 2017–2021 for 2017-2021 is currently in progress.
Dr. Rashed Mustafa Sarwar thanked for the joint work on the projects aimed at protecting and respecting the rights of children, preserving their health, and expressed confidence that all initiatives of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) will continue to be supported in Belarus.