It's a trite formula for a story: note an anniversary of a worthy treaty/announcement/international agreement, then express regret that in spite of some laudable progress, look how far there is yet to go, throwing in a tear-jerking example or two. This past week, the 20th anniversary of the signing of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child presented this opportunity and as trite as it is, I don't feel able to pass it by.
UNICEF issued a glossy report on the state of the world's children taking just that stance (much progress, so far to go). Uzbekistan, where UNICEF takes an extreme softly-softly approach (so softly they don't publicly discuss Uzbekistan's policy of forced child labor anywhere), was not mentioned. As the anniversary dawned, we learned from a caller to the Uzbek service of Radio Liberty (Radio Ozodlik) that high schoolers are still living in unheated buildings, forced to pick the last unopened cotton bolls as the temperature at night dips below freezing. Article 32 of the Convention, meanwhile, states that:
States parties recognize the right of children to be free from economic exploitation, and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.
Uzbekistan's children, it seems, don't have much to celebrate this anniversary.