UPR Outcome of Lao PDR
Agenda Item 6, Human Rights Council, 45th Session
United Nations Watch
Video speech delivered by Ms. Meshi Biton
28 September 2020
United Nations Watch is deeply concerned about the precarious situation of human rights in Laos.
In a country where 59 percent of the population is below 25 years old and 71 percent leave in rural areas, child rights must be taken more seriously.
First, with regard to education, secondary school enrollment is still lagging behind, being at 78%. Girls from certain ethnic communities and lower wealth quintiles are at an educational disadvantage. We echo the UNESCO call on Laos to ratify the Convention against Discrimination in Education.
Secondly, the issue of child labor in Laos is highly worrying. According to the ILO, 178,000 children are subjected to child labor. A majority are children from rural areas, and over 50 percent of them are girls.
Third, girls’ youth marriage and early pregnancies are preventing girls from getting out of poverty. According to UNICEF, Laos has the highest rate of child marriage in East Asia, with 37 percent of women aged 20 to 49 married by the age of 18. Moreover, the country has one of the highest adolescent birth rates in the region, with 83 births per 1000 girls, aged between 15 and 19. This number is even 136 per 1000 in rural areas.
We call on the United Nations and this Council to do its utmost to protect the fundamental rights of children in Laos to education, to be free from child labor, and to save them from the plight of child marriage, and the predicament of early pregnancy.
The young generation of Laos deserves no less.
I thank you, Madam President.