Periodically the UN requires the NZ government to report on the progress - or otherwise - it is making on upholding the many articles that form the UN Rights of the Child convention. This is my submission on the latest draft report.
Submission on the government’s draft sixth periodic report to the United Nations on the Rights of the Child (UNROC)
I wish to make two observations regarding the government’s draft sixth report to the United Nations on the Rights of the Child (UNROC).
1/ UNROC ARTICLE 26 states:
“Social security - The child has the right to benefit from social security.”
Data at Table 21 in the draft report shows the number of children dependent on a social security benefit increased by 14.4 percent or 25,842 between 2016 and 2021.
The length of parental stay on a benefit is also increasing. The proportion of sole parents dependent for a year or more grew by 3.6 percent over the same period.
The NZ government can claim to be upholding the right required by article 26.
However, analysis of data by the NZ Treasury shows, “There is a clear gradient between the proportion of time spent on a benefit as a child and the likelihood of future poor outcomes across all domains.”
2/ UNROC ARTICLE 19 states:
“Freedom from abuse - The State shall protect the child from all forms of maltreatment by parents or others responsible for the child’s care.”
A strong association between dependency on a social security benefit and the incidence of child abuse also exists.
The Auckland University of Technology reported: “Of all children having a finding of maltreatment by age 5, 83% are seen on a benefit before age 2.”
NZ Police data at Table 13 of the draft report shows the number of reported cases of violence and abuse against children, including sexual abuse, rose by 4 percent or 435 cases between 2017 and 2020. However, Serious Assaults Resulting in Injury rose by 34% - from 2,023 to 2,706 while Common Assaults fell by 29 percent. This indicates that the severity of physical violence against children and young people is worsening significantly.
It can be seen from these two observations that UNROC articles 19 and 26 are not necessarily compatible. UN required adherence to article 26 does not guarantee enhanced child outcomes, and worse, may increase physical harm to children. That leads to a contravention of article 19.
This is just one instance of the folly in allowing the UN to dictate domestic policy. Furthermore, the hours and money spent fulfilling UN reporting demands would go a long way to funding effective initiatives which have a direct and positive impact on needy New Zealand children.
Note: The brevity of this submission is due to the late notice given by MSD who made public notification of the consultation period - July 20 to August 31, 2021 - on August 26, 2021, when only 2-3 working days remained. Whether intentional or incompetent, the process shows no commitment to ‘open and transparent government.’
Lindsay Mitchell is a welfare commentator who blogs HERE.