UNICEF Partners with International Research & Exchanges Board to Strengthen Reporting on Children’s Rights in Iraq

BAGHDAD, 6 December 2010 – The United Nations Children’s Fund has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) to strengthen reporting on children’s rights in Iraq. With UNICEF’s guidance, IREX will train Iraqi journalists and media outlets on professional standards for reporting on children as well as empower children to produce content on issues they and other children in their communities are experiencing.

“The media has an essential role in ensuring that children’s every day issues are reported on in relation to their rights” says UNICEF Iraq Representative, Sikander Khan. “With IREX’s focus on media and technology for community development, we expect this partnership to build public awareness at the community level on the current state of children’s rights in Iraq thereby promoting greater investments in Iraqi children”.

Through the cooperation, trainings will be conducted across the country to hundreds of Iraqi journalists and civil society leaders on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the role of the media in protecting and promoting children’s rights, the present situation of child rights violations throughout Iraq, and ethical reporting on children’s lives, especially of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children suffering from the highest levels of deprivation.

To promote children’s journalism, children with an interest in journalism will also be trained on their rights and how to make their own news via written, audio and video stories on rights violations they and other children face. These children will specifically learn how to use social media outlets and new information technology to communicate their stories to the public.

“Children in Iraq are seldom allowed to speak for themselves and when they are portrayed it is usually in a one dimensional role as a victim” says IREX Country Director Jacky Sutton. “We are happy to partner with UNICEF to ensure media report fairly and accurately on children’s experiences as well as provide children with more opportunities to realize their right to express their views on all matters affecting them.”

Trainings for Iraqi media professionals and civil society organizations in Erbil, Najaf and Basra are underway and will be expanded to all other governorates over the next several months. The partnership is in support of UNICEF’s advocacy to ensure children’s rights are protected, which presently in Iraq includes events in all governorates until the end of November to call for the creation of Child Rights Committees in commemoration of the Convention on the Rights of the Child turning 21 on November 20th.

About UNICEF Iraq
UNICEF has been on the ground in Iraq since 1983 working to ensure Iraqi children survive and realize their full potential. UNICEF is supporting the Government of Iraq to develop child friendly policies, build the capacity of institutions that deliver essential services to children, and convene all duty bearers to realize the full rights of Iraqi children. Via a network of staff and partners UNICEF’s programmes continue to improve basic health services, safeguard a quality education, rebuild water and sanitation systems, protect children from abuse, violence, and exploitation, and meet the needs of the most vulnerable in crisis situations.

About IREX-Iraq
IREX is an international nonprofit organization providing thought leadership and innovative programs to promote positive lasting change globally. We enable local individuals and institutions to build key elements of a vibrant society: quality education, independent media, and strong communities. To strengthen these sectors, our program activities also include conflict resolution, technology for development, gender, and youth. Founded in 1968, IREX has an annual portfolio of over $60 million and a staff of over 400 professionals worldwide. IREX employs field-tested methods and innovative uses of technologies to develop practical and locally-driven solutions with our partners in more than 100 countries. Its programme in Iraq is funded by the US State Department as is entitled Media and Technology for Community Development and it provides for professional training of media and civil society, lawmakers and government to use information technology to promote transparency, accountability and Article 19 freedoms of expression and access to information.

For further information, please contact:

Jaya Murthy, UNICEF Iraq, +962 79 692 6190, jmurthy@unicef.org
Salam Abdulmunem, UNICEF Iraq, +9647809126782, sabulmunem@unicef.org

Hudaifa Hassoon, Public Relations, IREX Iraq, hhassoon@irex-iraq.org