Yes, isn’t that surprising? When it comes to children’s rights, countries that are rich or developed don’t necessarily perform better. And that’s just one of the remarkable takeaways of the KidsRights Index 2017, published by Erasmus University Rotterdam and children’s rights foundation KidsRights. Raise your eyebrows at this and four other surprising findings.
1. Portugal is the global frontrunner
Congrats! With strong performances in child legislation, health, and education, Portugal came first in the rankings. Runners-up in the top ten are Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Spain, France, Sweden, Thailand, Tunisia, and Finland.
2. The UK and New Zealand are underperforming
And not just a bit, but actually a lot. The UK dropped from 11 to 156 in the rankings and New Zealand went down from 45 to 158. Both countries are now in the bottom ten. Why? Because they perform poorly when it comes to environmental factors needed to ensure children’s rights. Other countries towards the bottom of the list are: Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Vanuatu, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Papua New Guinea.
3. Economically prosperous countries are not doing better
This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that Thailand and Tunisia are in the top ten. Both perform well in cultivating an enabling environment for children’s rights. Their impressive ranking also has something to do with the index not only assessing countries’ commitments to children’s rights in absolute terms, but taking available resources in account too. And then it turns out that relatively industrialised nations are falling drastically short of allocating sufficient budgets for creating a stable environment for children’s rights. The report states: ‘Although many poorer states deserve praise for their efforts relative to their budgets and means, it is alarming that the industrialised world is neglecting its leadership responsibilities and failing to invest in the rights of children to the best of its abilities.’
4. The Netherlands keeps dropping
In the last two years, the Netherlands dropped from 2 to 15 place. The country is performing worse than last year when it comes to facilitating legislation and available budget. The outcome reflects the worries of the committee about Dutch children living in poverty and budget cuts that affect families living on a minimum wage. Furthermore, because of the decentralisation of social services, access to these services differs per municipality.
5. Stop discrimination against minority groups
The Middle East and North Africa especially need a warning regarding this highly alarming trend. Many vulnerable and marginalised groups, including refugees and street children, are still widely discriminated against. The KidsRights Foundation urges all 165 countries listed in the index to treat non-discrimination as a policy priority this year.