On the morning of December 7, President Tsai Ing-wen presented the 2023 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award to Amihan Abueva, regional executive director of the Child Rights Coalition Asia (CRC Asia). In remarks, President Tsai recognized Ms. Abueva's long-term contributions to advocacy for the rights of children in her battle against all forms of child violence. The president pointed out that Taiwan has endeavored for nearly a decade now to incorporate international standards for the rights of the child into domestic law to ensure more protections for children's rights. The president said that Taiwan will remain vigilant to protect our hard-earned democracy, freedom, and human rights, and by doing so, help further entrench the rights of the child here and globally.
A transcript of President Tsai's remarks follows:
Today, I would like to begin by congratulating Ms. Amihan Abueva on receiving this year's Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award, established by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.
Ms. Abueva has been a powerful advocate for the rights of children in her decades-long battle against all forms of child violence, especially trafficking and sexual exploitation. Throughout her career, she has epitomized selflessness and courage, tirelessly fighting to secure a safer world for our children and our future.
Whether in her former roles as executive secretary and president of ECPAT International [End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes], or in her current position as the regional executive director of the Child Rights Coalition of Asia, Ms. Abueva has pushed for more child participation, in society and in policy-making for child welfare. She has also contributed to the strengthening of the relevant legal framework at the national and international levels.
As she once said, "Children's rights are everybody's business."
Ms. Abueva has also played an important role in government efforts by serving as Philippine representative to the ASEAN Commission on the Rights of Women and Children. And her leadership today at CRC Asia has helped connect child rights organizations throughout Asia, including our own Child Welfare League Foundation in Taiwan. The network she built has brought the public sector and private society together to work toward the improvement of children's rights.
While advocating her cause, Ms. Abueva has also devoted herself to awareness raising, through speeches and reading materials, helping both adults and children see the warning signs so that they can prevent trafficking from taking place. Throughout her storied career, her mission has remained the same: to protect children, their rights, and their future, by giving them a voice and making sure their stories are heard.
Taiwan also strives to do its part to protect our children and their rights. As with most rights advocacy, we owe our thanks to our civil society in spearheading grassroots efforts and working in coordination with the government. And a crucial part of that is making sure we have sound legislation.
For nearly a decade now, we have endeavored to incorporate international standards for the rights of the child into domestic law. In 2014 we passed legislation to bring the principles of the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the most ratified human rights treaty in history, into our own legal framework. And to bring Taiwan more in compliance with the UNCRC, we hold discussions and reviews on our implementation efforts, which help us formulate future policy and further protect the rights of children.
To date, we have submitted two national reports, each followed by a review meeting. To these, we invite international experts to discuss the state of children's rights in Taiwan with our government agencies and NGOs. Most importantly, and as Ms. Abueva has long championed, children and the youth are represented in these meetings to ensure that they have a voice in the protection of their own rights.
Aside from overarching legislation, we want to ensure that children's rights are covered by relevant laws. Under these laws, Taiwan has not only addressed traditional forms of violence done to children, in both home and school environments; we have also taken a forward-looking approach to prevent novel forms of child violence.
With the addition to our Criminal Code of a chapter on offense against sexual privacy this year, we aim to protect the sexual privacy of every individual in the digital age. And this is particularly beneficial for children and young people, a large and vulnerable demographic of Internet users.
As proclaimed in the UNCRC, children are entitled to the very rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. With this in mind, Taiwan will remain vigilant to protect our hard-earned democracy, freedom, and human rights, and by doing so, help further entrench the rights of the child here and globally.
Once again, I extend my sincere congratulations to Ms. Abueva, and thank her for her selfless efforts. With the inspiration of such outstanding advocates as Ms. Abueva, I look forward to more people joining forces in the fight to protect the rights of the most vulnerable.
Members of the foreign diplomatic corps in Taiwan were also in attendance at the event.