KUALA LUMPUR, 6th May, 2016 (WAM)–H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, has called for legislation and policies to protect children and ensure their human rights are enforced.

Sheikh Sultan called on world leaders and the international community to consider the rights of children to education, health and protection from abuse and exploitation. He stressed that children need to live safely with their families, in a stable environment in order to reach their full potential.

The statement was made as the Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, attended the Global Child Forum, on Thursday in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, under the patronage and active participation of His Majesty Carl XVI Gustave, King of Sweden, and his wife, Queen Sylvia.

The forum saw the attendance and participation of Ulf Karlberg, Chairman, Partner Advisory Board, Global Child Forum; H.E. Le Luong Minh, Secretary-General of ASEAN; Hon. Dato’ Sri Rohani Abdul Karim, Minister for Women, Family and Community Development, Government of Malaysia, and Hon. Sutham Phanthusak, Representative of the President of the Thai National Legislative Assembly Also attending the Global Child Forum were a large number of leading officials and decision makers from business, finance, governments, academia and civil society organisations, who discussed how various business sectors can contribute to supporting and promoting children’s rights in the Southeast Asian region. They also explored how to overcome challenges facing children in the Southeast Asian region.

Sheikha Jawaher called on governments, institutions and decision makers to pay attention to forgotten groups of children around the world. “The future of peace in the entire world requires a united international stand towards under privileged children around the world. For the next generation to grow up strong, well and wise, and lead us to a more progressive future we must provide for all their needs now. Today these children need an education, decent healthcare and psychological stability in order to secure a future of peace, progress and stability for the entire world.”

She added, “Suffering is not a destiny that faces a particular people, but a passing phase that will come to an end thanks to cooperation and collective efforts of the international community, and the sincere desire to ensure a better future for generations to come. Childhood experiences can last a lifetime so we must work together to ensure we do not have a lost generation of adults of tomorrow if we really want peace and development for all. We must start working with today’s children throughout the world, working together to protect them and the future of humanity.”

The forum, held under the theme “Mobility & Connectivity: Children’s Rights and Sustainable Business”, highlighted opportunities to advance children’s rights through increased connectivity and mobility in the region. It focused on opportunities presented by fast technological progress, a young, growing workforce and the expanding travel and tourism industry in the region and explored how stakeholders can ensure that children’s rights are respected and fulfilled.

Ulf Karlberg, Chairman, Global Child Forum said “Global Child Forum believes that by facilitating and inspiring cross-sector partnerships and action, we will create a world where children’s rights are respected and supported by all stakeholders in society – including the business and financial sector. I am proud that our first Forum in South East Asia has managed to gather many regional and international thought leaders, that share this belief.”

The forum featured four action labs and interactive sessions with delegates discussing the most pressing challenges facing children today in order to generate actions, ideas and outlines to overcome these challenges. The four Action Labs were; ‘Reframing challenges as opportunities: youth employment as a driver for change’; ‘Children in the digital age: how the ICT sector can support and respect children’s rights’; ‘Into the light: safeguarding children’s rights in the travel and tourism sector’, and ‘The Children’s Rights and Business Atlas: a tool for responsible business’.

First Global Child Forum on Southeast Asia was held on 5 May at the JW Marriott hotel. This international forum aimed to encourage ASEAN businesses to advance children’s rights and key speakers to included Datuk Hajjah Rohani Abdul Karim, Minister of Women, Family and Social Development of Malaysia and YBhg Datuk Haji Mohd Amin Nordin bin Abdul Aziz, Mayor of Kuala Lumpur and Y.W. Junardy, Member, Global Compact Board, and President Commissioner PT Rajawali Corpora, Indonesia.

With participation of over 250 leaders and decision-makers from governments, business, civil society and academia, this high-level meeting was a valuable opportunity to bring attention to the need for cross-sector partnerships for the fulfilment of children’s rights as an important part of the corporate sustainability agenda.