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50 Years of Cooperation Between the Lao PDR and UNICEF

In a significant interview, Prof. Dr Kikeo Khaykhamphithoune, Deputy Prime Minister and President of the National Commission for the Advancement of Women, Mothers and Children, shared his thoughts with the Lao media.

Prof. Dr Kikeo Khaykhamphithoune.

The occasion marked both the 34th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, known as World Children’s Day, and the 50th anniversary of collaboration between the Lao PDR and UNICEF. “I am very proud and happy to represent the leadership of the Party and state,” he said, emphasising the theme ‘Investing in Our Future means Investing in Our Children!’ A Commitment to Child Rights.
Prof. Dr Kikeo shed light on the achievements and challenges surrounding implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Laos. “Our Party and state have always placed great importance on promoting and protecting the rights and legitimate interests of children,” he said.
This approach has been deeply integrated into the policies and laws of the nation, through action plans, programmes, and various activities. He emphasised the significance of a number of initiatives, aiming not only to ensure the basic rights of children but to create conditions for their comprehensive protection and development.
In fulfilling the obligations of the Convention, Laos has updated its laws and legislation to protect the rights and interests of children. The government has prepared a national report on the Convention’s implementation, along with two additional protocols addressing child trafficking, child prostitution, and child pornography, as well as the participation of children in armed conflict. “These steps reflect our commitment to upholding the rights of our children,” Prof. Dr Kikeo noted.
The Deputy Prime Minister also highlighted efforts in assessing the status of children and improving the national database related to children. These initiatives include citizen surveys, child labour surveys, and the creation of a national plan to prevent and eradicate child labour. He pointed out the importance of a strong and harmonious system for child protection and justice.
Annual events like International Children’s Day and National Tree Planting Day have been pivotal in fostering social and cultural exchange, unity among children, and providing

platforms for their participation in significant forums in Asean and internationally. Prof. Dr Kikeo took pride in these events, seeing them as opportunities for the nation’s children to engage with the wider world.
However, the journey has not been without its difficulties. “In recent times, numerous challenges have affected the safeguarding of children’s rights,” Prof. Dr Kikeo admitted.
The COVID-19 pandemic, economic difficulties, and harsh living conditions linked to child poverty, among other issues, have limited the development of children. He also highlighted the limited capacity at the central and local levels to protect and assist children, which is reflected in the implementation of work, monitoring, and summarising reports. The personnel and budget allocated for such tasks remain constrained.
Looking ahead, Dr Kikeo outlined the government’s plans to enhance its focus on children’s rights. “In the future, we plan to place more importance on children’s rights through internal cooperation and with international organisations, especially UNICEF,” he said.
This approach aligns with the government’s obligations under the Convention and its additional protocols for the protection and development of Lao children of all ethnic groups.
The government’s strategic work includes a mid-term review of the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Mothers and Children (2016-2025) and the Vision to 2030. Additionally, there is a focus on reviewing the national action plan for mothers and children and a plan to prevent and eliminate violence against them.

Dr Kikeo also discussed the obligations to the Convention and additional protocols, which involve publishing a national report and organising meetings with the UN Committee on Children’s Rights. “We are preparing our delegation to participate in discussions regarding the national report and to defend our national report in meetings with the UN Committee in Geneva, Switzerland,” he added.
Celebrating Collaboration
As Laos marks the 50th anniversary of UNICEF’s presence in the country, Prof. Dr Kikeo expressed gratitude for the organisation’s extensive support in various sectors impacting women, mothers, and children. “UNICEF has been a vital partner in our journey,” he said. “Their support across public health, education, social welfare, and cultural development has been invaluable.”
He also emphasised the continued collaboration with UNICEF, which aligns with the national socio-economic development plan. “This partnership is crucial for leading our country out of underdevelopment and towards sustainable development,” he stated.
In conclusion, Prof. Dr Kikeo extended heartfelt wishes to all Lao children on the occasion of the 34th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and World Children’s Day. “I wish our children health, happiness, and success,” he said. “May they grow up in a world free of diseases and challenges, respecting their culture and traditions.”
He expressed hope for the success of the upcoming celebrations and the bright future of the nation’s children.
This year, as Laos and UNICEF celebrate a significant milestone, there is a renewed sense of commitment and optimism towards the well-being and development of children in Laos.
Prof. Dr Kikeo’s words not only reflect the achievements of the past but also pave the way for a future where children are at the forefront of national development and prosperity.



By Times​ Reporters​
 (Latest Update November 20, 2023)

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