The representative, Mohammed Anis Salem, was speaking during the inauguration of the four-day "First Arab Media and Child Rights Forum" at Traders Hotel yesterday.
Organised by the Unicef and sponsored by Dubai Aid City in collaboration with the Arab Institute for Human Rights, Al Bayan local Arabic daily and the Dubai Press Club, the forum aims at promoting the participation of Arab media in upholding children's rights.
Mohammed Anis Salem noted that children in the Arab world are still facing major challenges; and in many cases, their life standards are still behind acceptable levels.
Recently, regional media have contributed to highlighting sensitive issues like child abuse, sexual exploitation and genital mutilation that were formerly difficult to debate in public, he noted, adding: "At a time when the region is discussing reform, children are often forgotten in the agendas presented by external and internal actors. Yet children represent half the population of the region, ignoring them is not only surprising or self-defeating, it is ethically unacceptable".
Monopolised and controlled media is one of the most serious challenges facing the freedom of expression, said Dr Abdul Basset bin Hassan, Director of the Arab Institute for Child Rights.
"Despite a few initiatives, human rights issues are not dealt with or exposed in our media properly," he said.
The role of the media in the Arab world should be developed to help the human rights culture spread and to be smoothly able to tackle violations committed against civilian, political, economic, social and cultural rights, stressed Dr Hassan.
Mohammed Al Mansoori, Deputy Manager of the Dubai Press Club, pointed out that the Arab media requires sincere guidance to help activate its role in serving the Arab citizens. Moreover, exposing issues of children, who are the future of the nation, should be given the priority in media programmes, he stressed.
Ali Obeid Al Hamili, from Al Bayan newspaper, noted that children, who, on many occasions, voiced out their need for a peaceful world and stressed their ability to maintain it, have showed explicitly rationalism over the adults whose arrogance, pride and ignorance drove the world into chaotic and miserable living conditions.
Some 50 journalists from 13 countries and human rights and Unicef representatives yesterday dealt with two topics namely: Child Issues from a Human Rights Perspective and Situation of Children in the Arab world.
Dr Hatem Kotrane, Member of CRC Committee, spoke on "Mechanisms for Protecting the Rights of the Child", Dr Abdul Basset Ben Hassan, Director, Arab Institute for Human Rights dealt with "Child issues: The Human Rights Based Perspective", and Mohammed Anis Salem, representative of the Unicef Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa presented the "Arab League / Unicef: Study on the situation of Children in the Arab World."Working groups will draft an outline on Arab Charter on Media and Children to reflect ethical responsibilities related to dealing with the rights of children.
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