UNICEF – General

FBOs and religious groups play an important role as partners in UNICEF’s work with children accross the globe. Religious communities working with UNICEF go from those of the Buddhist and Islamic faith to several denominations within the Christian faith, whose tenets of religion include an interest in the health and wellbeing of people and particularly of children.

UNICEF and religious groups act as advocates in a variety of programs, among them:

- educational projects for out-of-school and abused children,

- advocacy and education for HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention,

- combating sexual commercial exploitation of children and child labour,

- best possible health care for children,

- promotion and defence of children’s rights, and

- integration of child rights promotion and child protection into social action programs led by churches and religious groups.

Link:  http://www.unicef.org/media/media_4537.html


UNICEF and the Latin American Episcopal Confrence (CELAM) have carried out jointly programs directed at protecting the social rights of children and adolescents and their families in L.A. & the Caribbean for over 20 years. Some examples of successful projects are:

Dominican Republic

Project Name: Name and Nationality in the Dominican Republic.

The project represents a campaign “For the Right to a Name and Nationality” under the joint action of UNICEF, the Catholic Church, and the Government through the Office of Civil Registration, an agency of the Central Board of Elections (JCE).

It began in the year 2000 after UNICEF and CELAM signed an agreement to jointly attack the problem of under registration of births. It is an example of partnership work in the Diocese of San Juan de la Maguada (Southern Region of Dominican Republic), where in the year 1998 there were some 80,000 undeclared people.

Project achievements include the granting of birth certificates to 5,004 children below the age of 12 during the period September-December 2001. Another 14,300 received certification of their identity between June-October 2002, allowing them to become actual citizens and claim their rights (formal education for example) or those of their ancestry.

UNICEF Santo Domingo collaborates by financing project’s operations, preparing the legal documentation, disseminating educational material and carrying out workshops to train volunteers doing the work. The Official Clerk’s Office of the JCE files the information collected from the volunteers. The Catholic Church, through the Dominican Center for Legal and Research Advisor (CEDAIL), the legal arm of the Catholic Church, facilitates the legal documentation of children: birth certificates and official enrolment in schools.

Project has been extended to other communities of the country with great success.

Link:  http://www.unicef.org/media/media_4537.html ; go to paragraph ‘In Latin America’; pinch on ‘Read More’; and pinch Download 5 Histories (pdf).


Project Name: Participation

The country’s history of violations of human rights linked to the internal armed conflicts that devastated Guatemala for 36 years, are the motivating forces behind this project, a joint work of UNICEF and the Office of Human Rights of the Archbishop of Guatemala (ODHA).

Three existing documents/reports plus the Peace Agreements constitute the basis for this project about education for peace. These reports are: ‘Guatemala: Never Again’, of the Interdiocesian project; ‘Guatemala, Silent Memory’ of the Committee for the Clarification of History (CEH); and the Pastoral Letter ‘A True Peace is Urgent’ from the Guatemalan Episcopal Conference.

The basic premise of this joint program is that national reconciliation and harmony would require a profound effort of cultural transformation, and that could only be accomplished through an active policy of education for peace, in a way that ‘never again’ …

The project aims at developing pedagogical materials for primary school teachers and for the first three years of basic education, whereby a culture of peace can be built based on historical memory and civic values. It is considered that the historical memory, both individual and collective, form the basis of the national identity, and that the dissemination of new civic values in the education of children and young people is needed to build sustainable peace. Among these values are: self-esteem, the truth, respect and tolerance, the capacity of dialogue, justice, cooperation and solidarity.

The ultimate goal is to develop the critical capacity of children and young people in the face of the current value system and to promote the creation of fairest forms of living together.

The Catholic Church is not only centered on awareness of the historical memory but in an understanding of the causes behind internal armed conflict, in a reflection upon the pain and fear, the loss of the tragedy. They are also interested in creating a new type of citizen, more committed, more aware of their own reality and capable of implementing and making changes toward building a different Guatemala.

UNICEF, in its work with the Church, provides technical assistance and funding resources.

Link:  http://www.unicef.org/media/media_4537.html ;  go to paragraph ‘In Latin America’ ;  pinch on ‘Read More’; and pinch Download 5 Histories (pdf).


Project Name: Faces of the Children’s Friendship School.

This project takes place in some towns of the municipality of Ayapel, Cordoba Department, a northern region of Colombia.

This unique concept of Friendship School is quite different from the ones normally found in rural areas. They are more like ‘living spaces’ where children’s rights are fostered and protected. From a perspective of rights they contribute to the children’s holistic development and wellbeing, thus focusing on a model of democratic participation with emphasis on integration and coherence elements in terms of inclusion, permanence, and scholastic success. The educational process is applied to shaping the conscience of the students, their respect for the rights of others, participation, mobilization of the community, creativity and daily practices.

In 2002 UNICEF, through an agreement with CELAM and, in some cases with the Local Secretary of Education, has contributed more than one million US dollars to transform 23 schools into Friendship Schools. They basically help children displaced by the armed conflict, having bebefitted more than 2,000 children.

Children learn what is necessary to develop their greatest potential, through participation and awareness of being able of the capacity to act as a community involved in their own evolution.

In the midst of an armed conflict, the alliance between the Catholic Church and UNICEF began to bear fruits (year 2003): children happily studying.

Link:  http://www.unicef.org/media/media_4537.html ; go to paragraph ‘In Latin America’; pinch on ‘Read More’; and pinch Download 5 Histories (pdf).



Project Name: Mobilizing Religious Leaders in Afghanistan.

A report of May 2003 indicates than in Afghanistan Islamic leaders have being developing positive partnership with UNICEF to promote core services and programs for women and children. In most communities, especially those in rural parts of the country, imams and mullahs are seen as both spiritual and religious leaders, and also a trusted source of guidance and advice on issues of the day.

UNICEF has taken up the potential of the religious community in the country to assist in the promotion of messages relating to children’s rights. In May 2003, UNICEF supported the first national workshop on children’s issues for religious leaders from across the nation. This 3-day seminar brought together religious leaders from all 32 provinces to discuss the role and importance of children within an Islamic context. High on the agenda was the issue of education for all, along with health and basic services for women and children.

Link:  http://www.unicef.org/media/media_13249.html