Cyprus ranked 23rd among 181 countries on the KidsRights Index 2019, an annual global index which ranks how countries adhere to and are equipped to improve children’s rights.
The index ranks countries on the basis of five criteria: right to life, right to health, right to education, right to protection and the existence of an enabling environment for child rights.
An initiative of the KidsRights Foundation, in cooperation with Erasmus University Rotterdam: Erasmus School of Economics and the International Institute of Social Studies, it ranks all UN member states that have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and for which sufficient data is available. At present the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) is ratified by all of the world’s nations but one: the United States of America.
Iceland led the table with a score of 0.967 followed by Portugal with 0.948 and Switzerland with 0.937.
Cyprus scored 0.836. It scored the best as regards protection (0.995) followed by right to life (0.963), and notched up 0.954 for health and 0.765 for education.
Greece was 40th with 0.817 and the UK 170th with 0.383. Afghanistan was last with 0.197. The report notes that countries are assessed not only in absolute terms but also relative to the resources they have at their disposal – hence the poor showing of the UK.
The KidsRights Index is based on 20 indicators: 13 quantitative and 7 qualitative
The life criterion takes into consideration: Under 5 mortality rate; Life expectancy at birth and Maternal mortality ratio.
Health looks at % of under five year olds suffering from underweight; Immunization of 1 year old children; % of population using improved sanitation facilities (urban and rural) and % of population using improved drinking water sources (urban and rural)
Education takes into consideration: Expected years of schooling of girls; Expected years of schooling of Boys and Gender inequality in expected years of schooling (absolute difference between girls and boys)
For protection, the criteria are: Child labour; Adolescent birth rate and Birth registration.
Finally as regards the child’s rights environment the criteria are: Non-discrimination; Best interests of the child; Enabling legislation, Best available budget; Respect for the views of the child/child participation; Collection and analysis of disaggregate data and State-civil society cooperation for child rights.
The report notes that economically prosperous countries are not necessarily outperforming the rest.
In line with article 4 of the CRC, the Index does not only assess countries’ commitments to children’s rights in absolute terms, but also relative to the resources they have at their disposal.
This is reflected, among other examples, by high scoring developing countries such as Thailand (rank 14) and Tunisia (rank 15), which both perform well in cultivating an enabling environment for the rights of the child.
Overall, the Index shows that various developed nations are falling drastically short of allocating sufficient budgets to support efforts to create a stable environment for children’s rights.
Although many developing states deserve praise for their efforts relative to their budgets and other means, it is alarming that the developed world is neglecting its leadership responsibilities and failing to invest in the rights of children to the best of its abilities, the report says.
For example, developed nations the United Kingdom (rank 170) and New Zealand (rank 169) both hold bottom positions following very poor performances in domain 5, that is the Enabling Environment for Child Rights. This is mainly due to a harsh assessment by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child relating to the enabling environment for children’s rights in the two countries.
The report says that this doesn’t mean that children in the United Kingdom are necessarily worse off than children living in countries ranking above the UK but does mean the country should invest more in children’s rights, in line with the resources it has available.
Besides the contextual assessment, a second important principle is that very low scores in one of the five research domains cannot be compensated by high performance in other domains.
Since all children’s rights are important, gaps in one domain cannot be made up for by strong performance in another domain.
This too contributes to the fact that the United Kingdom ranks unexpectedly very low on the KidsRights Index.
Other countries on the other hand, rank comparatively high on the Index. For example in situations in which relatively limited means are available to implement the CRC, political will to genuinely prioritise children’s rights by allocating the maximum/best available budget can make a significant difference.