Press Releases

    GA/SHC/3824
    19 October 2005

    Third Committee Concludes Discussion of Promotion, Protection of Children's Rights

    Debate focuses on National Strategies to Improve Health Care, Education, Social Services, Legal Protection for Youngest Members of Society

    NEW YORK, 18 October (UN Headquarters) -- Governments worldwide were adopting national strategies and programmes to improve health care, education, social services and legal protection for the youngest members of their societies in hopes of achieving the objectives of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols on children in armed conflict, and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, representatives told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) as it concluded its discussion of the promotion and protection of the rights of children.

    For example, in the Philippines, the National Strategic Framework Plan for the Development of Children, or Child 21 Plan, focused on a holistic, integrated delivery of health, nutrition, education, psychological care and social protection services, the Philippine representative said.  Commemorating National Children's Month, officials had launched a nationwide campaign to build capacity to end violence against children, improve parenting skills and empower children as full participants in development.

    While clear international standards and measurable indicators had been set to promote healthy lives, provide quality education, combat HIV/AIDS and protect children again abuse, exploitation and violence, more concrete goals and better cooperation were needed to end situations that endangered children, such as armed conflict, trafficking, domestic violence, unsafe work conditions and conflict with the law, he said.

    Similarly, the Russian Federation's representative stressed the importance of monitoring child protection and said the periodic national reports that reviewed Member States' implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child were important instruments for charting that progress.  The Russian Federation's report, which analysed results for the 1998-2003 period, had led to a constructive and objective dialogue among members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.  The Committee's final comments would serve to guide the country's future action.

    Children's protection was a top priority for his country, and officials would continue to increase the national budget for children's and women's issues, he said, noting that the Russian Duma was in the process of approving a draft bill to increase by one-third assistance to children and to expand child allowances to families.  Moreover, officials had created a Government commission to coordinate child protection services and in June had adopted a charter aimed at ending violence and cruelty against children.

    Iran was also revising its national policies to keep children safe and secure.  For example, the Ministry of Education's "Education of Human Rights in Schools" project incorporated human rights, including provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, into school curricula, Iran's representative said.  The Islamic Commission on Human Rights had devised a programme to educate parents and adults on children's rights, and the Ministry of Health and Medical Training was instituting policies to control malnutrition and promote breast-feeding.  In addition, Iranian officials were promoting girls education and taking steps to narrow the gender gap, expand pre-school education, and enhance children's participation in the decision-making process.

    Many countries were turning to United Nations agencies to lend a helping hand in improving the lot of children in their societies.  In Angola, for example, officials had focused on joint effort to rebuild the country's infrastructure following decades of civil war, that Government's representative said.  Thanks to successful partnerships with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and civil society, Angola had launched a national campaign to wipe out measles, a national back-to-school campaign and a national child protection strategic framework.  While the post-conflict situation was far from satisfactory, the lot of Angolan children was improving.

    Similarly, Nepal's representative stressed that many developing nations, particularly least developed countries, needed more international financial and technical assistance to achieve the millennium targets related to children.  A broad approach based on the concept of peace, development and human rights was necessary.  Nepal was doing its part regarding the target to end child labour.  In accordance with the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 138 concerning the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment and Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, it had prepared a master plan to eliminate the worst forms of child labour by 2007 and all forms of child labour by 2010, he said.  That included strategies to end child bonded labour, sexual exploitation, and child labour in mining and the carpet sector.

    Also making statements today were representatives of Colombia, Qatar, Bangladesh, Jordan, San Marino, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Monaco, Uganda, Croatia, Mali, Cape Verde, Republic of Korea, Argentina (on behalf of the Rio Group), Malaysia (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations), Cameroon and Ukraine.

    A representative of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and a representative of the Organization of the Islamic Conference also made statements.

    The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 19 October, to begin its debate on indigenous issues and hear the introduction of six draft resolutions on the advancement of women.

    Background

    The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to conclude its general discussion of promotion and protection of the rights of children.

    For more background information, see Press Release GA/SHC/3822 of 14 October and Press Release GA/SHC/3823 of 17 October.

    Statements

    MARÍA ANGELA HOLGUÍN CUÉLLAR ( Colombia) said the United Nations, in particular the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Office of the Special Representative, had done great work in their efforts to improve the life of children around the world.  They had unique opportunities to make an effective contribution to the welfare of children.  The United Nations, by committing to a cooperation approach and supporting national capacities, could show concrete results that transformed words into actions and tangible projects that created a difference in the lives of boys and girls in the world.  The system should strengthen, together with Governments and in support of their efforts, programmes that guaranteed the well-being of children.  Children in all regions were affected by poverty, orphanhood, HIV/AIDS, trafficking, sexual abuse and exploitation, physical and psychological abuse, natural disasters, and conflicts.

    In the search for solutions to the needs of children, a comprehensive approach was needed, she continued.  In some occasions, it was important to incorporate family and community components, and to cooperate with States on strategies and initiatives oriented towards education and technical training aimed at developing skills for productive employment as adults.  That approach covered situations of poverty and of demobilization of recruited children.  Investment in small- and medium-sized businesses, involving the private sector, coordinating work with civil society, and making great effort in capacity-building were just some of the main elements that could be strengthened with United Nations cooperation.  A strategy based on cooperation and project implementation had results that lasted in the short-, medium- and long-terms.  Her Government wanted to see in the short-term clear United Nations proposals on projects and programmes that could be implemented by the relevant entities, together with Member States.  Those proposals could respond in a comprehensive and sustainable manner to the needs of children around the world, especially those affected by conflicts, violence, abuse and exploitation in all forms.

    MANAL YOUSSEF AL-MAHMOUD ( Qatar) said his country had submitted its first national report on implementation of the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on ending child trafficking and exploiting children for prostitution and pornography.   Qatar had taken other steps to protect children and women from violence and abuse at home, at work and in society, including creation of the Qatar Foundation for Caring for Orphans, the Cultural Centre for Childhood and the Foundation for the Protection of Women and Children.  The Foundation, which enjoyed independent status, operated a hotline and emergency assistance for children and women victims of abuse, violence and exploitation.

    In line with article 42 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Qatar was coordinating child protection efforts with international organizations, she said.  For example, the Supreme Council for Family Affairs had organized with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights training workshops to educate groups working with children about the Convention.  Paediatricians, judges, people working the juvenile affairs and labour inspection attended the workshops during 2004 and 2005.  The Supreme Council was also partnering with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote the cultural rights of students, producing educational material linking the Convention's principles with those of the Islamic Shari'a as a guide.  A May 2005 law prohibited training and employment of children in camel races.  The Qatar House for Refugee and Social Welfare also had been set up.

    ZIAUR RAHMAN KHAN ( Bangladesh) said children were the most precious and valuable assets of any nation, and were not only the future but also the present.  Despite the nearly universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the global situation concerning children remained mixed.  There had been progress in many parts of the world, but children still continued to be the most vulnerable.  They were victims of poverty, armed conflicts, and trafficking.  Other challenges, such as hunger, malnutrition, illiteracy, disability and HIV/AIDS continued to exist.  In Bangladesh, a separate ministry was solely devoted to the welfare of women and children, and the Government had already implemented two national plans of action.  The third national plan of action, for the period 2004 to 2009, focused on food and nutrition; health; education and empowerment of the girl child; protection from abuse, exploitation and violence; and physical environment.

    His Government also accorded the highest priority to programmes such as "education for all", particularly for girls.  It had achieved Millennium Development Goal target three relating to gender parity in primary and secondary schools.  Substantive progress had been made in reducing child mortality and malnutrition through an extended immunization programme.  Programmes were also under way regarding abandoned and street children.  On a global scale, he said it was necessary to focus further on the situation of children affected by armed conflict, and on the suffering of children under foreign occupation.  Everyone at the United Nations needed to work together to create a non-violent and secure environment for children, he added.

    BAYANI MERCADO ( Philippines) said the National Strategic Framework Plan for the Development of Children, or Child 21 Plan, focused on a holistic, integrated delivery of services concerning health, nutrition, education, psychological care and social protection for children, and maternal care.  This month was National Children's Month.  The Government had embarked on a nationwide campaign to build capacity on target issues such as violence against children, nutrition, juvenile justice and empowerment of children as participants in development, and effective parenting.  The Declaration and Plan of Action adopted by the General Assembly in 2002 had emphasized the need to promote healthy lives, provide quality education, combat HIV/AIDS and protect children again abuse, exploitation and violence.

    While clear standards and measurable indicators had been set for those issues, greater efforts were needed to develop concrete goals, clearer norms and better cooperation to address situations that endangered children, such as armed conflict, trafficking, domestic violence, unsafe work conditions and conflict with the law, he said.  Juvenile justice was an area that merited greater attention.  Children in detention were vulnerable to violence, cruel treatment and unfit conditions.  Noting the frank assessment of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the independent expert's, he said law enforcement officials must be educated and compelled to observe national and international norms in the treatment of children.  Norms must be strengthened by national laws ensuring that law enforcement methods, detention conditions judicial processes were tailored to protect the rights of children in conflict with the law.

    MU'TAZ HYASSAT (Jordan) said his Government appreciated the efforts made by the UNICEF and its regional office in Amman in promoting the rights of children.   Jordan was continuously implementing its obligations under the Convention of the Rights of the Child and other international instruments.  That was being done through the translation of those instruments into the country's national strategies and plan of action, as well as through concrete measures, in order to create an environment that realized the best interests of children.

    Some of the achievements made by Jordan in the development and promotion of the rights of children included the promulgation of amendments and laws on children.  The Government was striving to make laws sensitive to their needs, to place an emphasis on protection, and to prevent child labour, among other things.  It was also establishing institutions concerned primarily with children, including a national council for family affairs.  Other efforts included the creation of true partnerships between the public sector and civil society, including non-governmental organizations, as well as follow-up on the implementation of the national plan on early childhood up until the age of eight for the years 2003-2007.  The Government had also adopted the Jordanian national plan on children for 2004-2013, which represented a general framework that helped decision makers in the elaboration of detailed programmes for all age brackets in ways that observed the principles on the rights of children.

    BORIS CHERNENKO ( Russian Federation) said the periodic national reports that reviewed Member States' implementation of Convention on the Rights of the Child were important instruments for monitoring child protection.  The various recommendations and strategies stemming from the Convention should continue to be worked on.  The Russian Federation's report analysed results for the 1998-2003 period, and had led to a constructive and objective dialogue among members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.  The Committee's final comments would serve to guide the Russian Federation's future action.  His country's National Action Plan for Children through 2010 aimed to preserve and improve health care, education, economic conditions and effective measure to help children in very difficult circumstances.  Further, the Russian Federation would continue to increase its budget for women's and children's issues.

    The Russian Duma was in the process of approving a draft bill to increase by one-third assistance to children and to expand child allowances to families, he said.  Officials had created a Government commission to coordinate children protection services.  In June, they had adopted a Charter aimed at ending violence and cruelty against children.  He considered children's issue a national priority and called on the international community to step up efforts to implement the millennium targets related to children, and to promote and adhere to the objectives set forth in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    ELENA MOLARONI ( San Marino) said nobody could ever disagree that children were the most precious treasure of humankind, but they were also the most vulnerable to war and poverty and bore the effects of adults' actions and decisions.  So many factors that affected children's well-being could be eliminated if Member States just stopped, thought, and acted.  Although important positive steps had been made in the field of protection of war-afflicted children, it was necessary to engage in a monitoring and reporting process of all violations of children's rights, and to make sure that those who deliberately targeted, abuse, or exploited children during war were held accountable.   San Marino was among the group of countries that insisted on having Security Council Resolution 1612, which committed countries to take concrete measures to ensure the protection of children in armed conflict with a monitoring mechanism, approved by the Council.

    Her Government also condemned the unacceptable and inhuman involvement of children in war, and hoped that the Government of Uganda and the rebels belonging to the "Lord's Resistance Army" would be able to find a negotiated solution to their conflict, and to look after the well-being of their children.  Calling for all countries to stop the violence against whole ethnic groups and children, she said it was also necessary to work together with international and humanitarian organizations to alleviate the suffering of those populations and of entire generations.  Her Government was convinced that conflicts could and must be solved through dialogue, understanding and negotiations to avoid suffering and death.  Her country, within its limited resources, had undertaken this year a number of humanitarian initiatives in favour of children, mainly in Africa, with the support of its institutions.

    RENE NSEMI ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) said the Congo had devised national strategies to collect information and monitor implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Its national health and education strategies were based on recommendations made during the World Summit on Children and the action plan approved during the General Assembly's Special Session on children.  In his country, thousands of children died before the age five.  Seventy per cent of those deaths were caused by malaria, respiratory infections, diarrhoea and HIV/AIDS.  His country was developing nutritional education and vaccination plans against polio and other child-killing diseases.  It was also working with development partners to rehabilitate the country's post-conflict infrastructure and mobilize resources to implement national action plan for universal education for boys and girls.

    Further, the Democratic Republic of the Congo's 2006 action plan to promote justice for minors included harmonizing and improving the legal framework, he said.  The struggle against HIV/AIDS continued to be an impediment in his country, as well as in other parts of sub-Saharan Africa.  Noting the feminization of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, he said the 2003-2006 national plan to combat HIV/AIDS included strategies to reduce mother-to-child transmissions, and increase support for orphans and families with relatives who had died from or were suffering from the disease.  The Government had also devised priority action programmes to eradicate poverty, but it would not be able to achieve those goals without joint efforts with the international community.

    CATHERINE BONARERI ONYONI-MOGAKA ( Kenya) said her delegation was pleased to note that positive progress had been made in the follow-up to commitments, through a coordinated framework in various international conferences and summits, including the Millennium Summit and the recent review Summit.  Three of the Millennium Development Goals were dedicated to children's issues.  It was especially commendable that many countries had now mainstreamed the goals of the Special Session on Children in their national planning process.  Worthy of particular attention was the fact that children now had an opportunity to actively participate in the formulation of those policies.  Welcoming the report of the Independent Expert for the United Nations Study on Violence against Children, she noted with concern that the rights of children continued to be violated in a number of key areas, including the home, schools, alternative care institutions and the juvenile justice systems.

    It was necessary for Member States to protect children -- the most vulnerable group -- in armed conflict situations, she continued.  Support by Member States of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child would establish the minimum age for recruitment into the armed forces.  In the context of humanitarian systems, the provision of peacekeeping forces with a strong mandate to protect civilian populations would help alleviate the problem.  Her Government had recently adopted regulations aimed at streamlining and speeding up the process of adoption of the Children's Act of 2002.  It had also formulated a national action plan for orphaned and vulnerable children, and had begun formulating a national policy on orphaned and vulnerable children aimed at providing a systematic analysis of the problem and a framework for intervention.  She added that her delegation wanted to see more international cooperation in the area of monitoring and evaluation of the various initiatives on the implementation of the Convention and its protocols.

    MOSTAFA ALAIE ( Iran) said that after more than three years, much still needed to be achieved to give a better life to children around the world, particularly in developing countries.  The betterment of the lives of millions of children under the threat of poverty, hunger, sexual exploitation, disease and armed conflicts needed the deliberate attention of the international community.

    He said the Government of Iran had provided means for the promotion of the education of girls, narrowed the gender gap, expanded pre-school education, and had enhanced children's participation in the decision-making process.  Mostly, the Ministry of Education has focused its activities on increasing educational coverage of school-aged girls with priority being given to rural and less developed regions and reducing the educational gap between urban and rural areas.  To promote child participation in the decision-making process, programmes like school mayors, student councils, and student's parliament had been instituted.

    On health care and education issues, the Ministry of Health and Medical Training had been implementing necessary policies to control malnutrition and promote breast-feeding, and the "Islamic Commission on Human Rights" had developed a plan for the education of the rights of the child for adults, parents and guardians.  A project called "Education of Human Rights in Schools" had been initiated by the Ministry of Education to incorporate human rights, including provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, into their school curriculum.

    GILLES NOGHÈS ( Monaco) said the international community must strengthen efforts to implement the objectives of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols, as well as the strategies of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.  Independent experts on children's issues had also provided precious information that should guide the global community's action.   Monaco supported regional and national activities to end all forms of discrimination and violence against children.  It was opposed to all corporal punishment, including traditional practices such as female genital mutilation.  He noted the importance of media campaigns aimed at generating public awareness of violence against children and its causes.

    The HIV/AIDS pandemic and poor access to health care in many parts of the world continued to make children even more vulnerable to violence and were causes for concern, he said.  Through numerous bilateral cooperation projects, Monaco's Government had responded to the call of the UNICEF to vaccinate all children against meningitis, polio and other deadly diseases.   Monaco had devised programmes to assist refugee children and handicapped children.  Children in his country enjoyed effective social protection under the law.  The penal code had made it possible to prosecute anyone who committed crimes against children, including sexual crimes.   Monaco had ratified the Optional Protocol relating to the sale of children, and use of children for prostitution and pornography, and was now working to tailor national laws in line with the Protocol.

    ISAAC BIRUMA SEBULIME ( Uganda) said his country was committed to the promotion and protection of the rights of the child, and had implemented the Universal Primary Education programme to increase the quality of primary school teachers.  A programme for Universal Secondary School Education would soon be started as well.

    Noting that education was not only necessary for the academic development of children -- especially women and the girl child -- but one of the key defences against the spread of HIV/AIDS, he said his country welcomed the objectives of the World Aids Conference to promote the role of women and girls in the fight against the pandemic.  Furthermore, the Uganda Presidential Initiative on AIDS Strategy for Communicating to Young People was galvanizing partners in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and had mobilized them to use existing structures such as the Universal Primary Education Policy, to intensify education and information initiatives to reach young people.

    Turning to the criticisms levelled against his country in the report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, he said that it was obvious from the interim Special Representative's statement and remarks that the report was laced with political activism instead of advocacy.  "For so many years, the outgoing Special Representative misused his office to misrepresent the situation in Northern Uganda, an area where he was born and raised."  The present report (document A/60/335) was simply a duplication of the fifth report of the Secretary-General on the Children and Armed Conflict, authored by Mr. Olara Otunnu, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.  That report mischaracterized the situation in Northern Uganda by erroneously listing the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) and the Local Defence Units (LDUs) among the "parties committing grave child rights violations".

    LARA ROMANO ( Croatia) said that over the last few years, Croatia had undertaken broad national reform in the field of children's rights.  In 2003, the criminal code, the Criminal Procedure Act and Family Act had been amended, resulting in the passage of new legislation -- the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act and the Ombudsperson for Children Act.  The institution of the Children's Ombudsperson was an autonomous, non-partisan and independent body that coordinated the activities of all entities responsible for the protection of children's interests, including protection from all forms of violence and sexual abuse.  Furthermore, her Government had recently adopted the National Programme on Trafficking in Children, which demonstrated its additional progress in the field.  The programme's priority was the best interests of the child, as well as the active participation of children and respect for their opinions.

    The National Strategy for Protection from Domestic Violence for 2005-2007 aimed to address all forms of domestic violence, including violence against and among children.  The main goals of the strategy were to suppress domestic violence; ease the consequences of violence already committed; improve education and coordination of actors involved in fighting domestic violence; and contribute to the achievement of gender equality.  All relevant actors, from governmental bodies and local authorities to non-governmental organizations, were involved in their implementation.  Her Government also cooperated with the UNICEF on special programmes to protect children from any form of violence.

    ALASSANE DIALLO ( Mali) said the fight for literacy was a major challenge to development in his country, and poverty was a considerable handicap.  The Government had attained progress, as hygiene education had been reintroduced in the basic curriculum, and to combat malaria, mosquito nets had been promoted as a solution.  An expanded programme of vaccination had also been set up, as had vaccination days.

    His Government enjoyed the support of several partners in its policy on hygiene, he continued.  Welcoming the fruitful and exemplary partnership between Mali and United Nations agencies, he especially praised the UNICEF and efforts by civil society organizations.  The Government had also taken concrete action regarding the dissemination of information on the rights of the child, and relevant action included the institutionalization of a children's parliament.  The Government had also been fighting against child labour and trans-border trafficking of children through the adoption of a national plan and the signing of cooperation agreements on a bilateral level.  The Government also participated in multilateral cooperation agreements.  Child tribunals and special areas of detention for minors were also being instituted.   Mali had reaffirmed its commitment to the promotion of the rights of the child, and he expressed hope that action undertaken during the 10 years before 2015 would achieve a world worthy for children.

    MARIO DE AZEVEDO CONSTANTINO ( Angola) said that even if the Convention on the Rights of the Child was the most universally accepted human rights instrument in history, much more needed to be done.  The approach in dealing with the rights of children, as included in the Convention, should be understood within a broader framework, responding to the concept so that peace, development and human rights were mutually reinforcing.  Actions to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and others set by the conferences and summits of the 1990s, including on human rights, should be based on the recognition that such goals were multi-dimensional, multi-sectoral and interdependent.

    Turning to his own country's experience, he said that at least two generations of Angolan children had been lost, as the country suffered decade after decade of civil war.  However, since the April 2002 peace agreements, there had been a focus on building partnerships so as to increase and take advantage of the country's own work, as well as international assistance.  Successful partnerships with all levels, including with United Nations agencies, such as the UNICEF, and civil society, had allowed Angola to lead such initiatives as a national measles campaign; a back-to-school campaign in all provinces; and the establishment of a national child protection strategic framework.  He added that while the situation of children in Angola was far from satisfactory, it had been improving.

    RAM BABU DHAKAL ( Nepal) said that achieving the millennium target of halving poverty and providing universal access to primary education by 2015 was an arduous task for the international community.  Developing nations, particularly least developed countries like Nepal, needed more international financial and technical assistance to achieve the objectives of their national action plans for children.  Nepal was party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, its Optional Protocols and the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 138 concerning the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment and Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour.  It had submitted its second and third periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

    Further, Nepal had prepared a master plan to eliminate the worst forms of child labour by 2007 and all forms of child labour by 2010, he said.  A national strategic plan identified seven priority areas:  child bonded labour, child rag pickers, child domestic workers, children in mines, children in the carpet sector, trafficking of girls and sexual exploitation.   Nepal's Tenth Five-Year Plan aimed to reduce poverty through better education, health care, sanitation and rural infrastructure, and gave high priority to social sector development.  The Plan aimed to raise literacy to 63 per cent and significantly increase school enrolment.   Nepal was also providing free primary education to all children, free textbooks to girls in primary school and scholarships for disadvantaged children.

    ANA SAPINHO PIRES ( Cape Verde) said it was often heard that children should be a priority for any country that wished to achieve greater levels of development.  However, in various parts of the world, that general statement had not yet been translated into action.  The challenges remained highest and were multiple, despite some progress in certain areas.  Three years after the adoption of the document on the "world fit for children" and 15 years of the adoption of the plan of action, much more remained to be done to accomplish the commitments made.  Her Government was deeply concerned about the situation of children in various areas, including children affected by HIV/AIDS, conflict, malnutrition, hunger and trafficking.

    It was unacceptable that in the twenty-first century, millions of children continued to die every year by avoidable causes and were victims of inaccurate policies, she continued.  More than 1 billion children were severely deprived of at least one of the essential goods and services required to realize their rights to survive and develop.  In implementing the goals of "a world fit for children", most of the developing countries, such as Cape Verde, met several constraints, such as a lack of natural and financial resources and a lack of capacity-building.  In order to accomplish the priorities in the plan of action for children, debt relief for the least developed countries was extremely important.  For her Government, investing in children was a fundamental strategic investment, and a first step towards eradication of poverty and ensuring the future of humankind, she added.

    KIM IL-BUM ( Republic of Korea) said commitment was needed to create a world fit for children where they could fully enjoy their rights, free from armed conflict and other forms of violence.  Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the expert leading the United Nations Study on Violence against Children, had collected important information, which was likely to lead to the drafting of valuable policy recommendations.  Since legislation concerning child abuse was first introduced in the Republic of Korea in 2001, considerable progress had been made in heightening public awareness of the problem and the development of relevant legislation, policies and programmes.  For child victims of sexual violence, special centres had been established in 2004 to provide medical treatment, counselling, legal aid and rehabilitation services.

    The situation for children in armed conflict remained grave, and his delegation reaffirmed its support for the "era of application" campaign led by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, he said.  The Republic of Korea urged all concerned parties to comply with relevant international norms and standards, including by ratifying and implementing the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflicts.  A separate resolution on children and armed conflict under this item deserved serious consideration.

    The Republic of Korea had made significant strides in the protection of children, including the adoption of legislation on missing children and the introduction of Children's Week in the past year.  The establishment of the National Coordination Committee on Children's Policies in 2004 had also been a positive development.  A review of children's policies was under way, and was expected to lead to the development of more refined and comprehensive future policies.  In conclusion, he said that the "era of application" campaign should not be limited to the protection of children in armed conflict, and it was now time for all proposals and goals related to children to be translated into action.

    CESAR MAYORAL ( Argentina), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said that it was essential for children and youth to participate in the formulation of social policies addressed at them.  Free-of-charge and mandatory primary education that was free of discrimination, especially in the areas of race and gender, was a goal that could not wait.  The international community must also design and implement plans at both the national and international levels to progressively eradicate child labour.

    He expressed concern that the draft resolution had been the subject of multiple and complicated votes in recent years, as if the protection of the rights of the child was a controversial subject, when most Commission members considered it a priority.  The Committee should adopt the draft by consensus as a way to advance the consideration of subjects related to children.  Countries must also act together to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS and give adequate treatment to infected children and their families, within the framework of a rights-based approach.  It was essential to diminish the high numbers of vertical transmission, he said, underlining the especially vulnerable situation of orphans.

    He called for greater participation by the international community in efforts by national Governments to confront violence against children.  In the Rio Group region, children suffered different kinds of violence, including violence from within the family, excesses by public forces, and violence arising from kidnappings for ransom and juvenile gangs or "maras".  The report on violence should contain concrete recommendations for ending the problem while taking into account the particular types of violence in each region.  The Office of the Special Representative should work closely with Member States regarding children affected by armed conflicts, and should cooperate in the implementation of projects for demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation of recruited children.

    SHAZRYLL ZAHIRAN (Malaysia), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the Association attached great importance to the promotion and protection of children and their well-being, and placed the issue of children at the forefront of cooperation through economic and social development.  To achieve the goal of providing a world fit for children, there was an obligation to ensure that all children received the best possible start in life.  There was also a shared responsibility to provide a safe, supportive and conducive environment for children to develop their individual capacity.  The ASEAN underscored the importance of exerting efforts to attain social development focused on children and the family, in tandem with economic growth.

    Given the importance that the ASEAN attached to child survival, protection and development, it had undertaken several joint and cooperative actions among its member countries.  Furthermore, the survival of children was constrained by poverty and the lack of access to basic needs and services, such as food and nutrition, clothing, shelter, health and education, and one individual country would not be able to shoulder those burdens alone.  With that realization, the ASEAN had established cooperation in programmes to address the issues, as well as cooperation in programmes in the area of child protection, particularly child prostitution, child labour and child trafficking.  The ASEAN as a whole was also actively engaged with relevant international bodies to address the issues of child abuse, children with special needs and juvenile offenders.  As the children were the future, Member States must, as their solemn duty, ensure that they left behind a world fit for them, he added.

    IYA TIDJANI ( Cameroon) called on the international community to continue efforts to mobilize resources to protect children.  Six million children died annually from preventable and treatable diseases, 300 million children were mistreated worldwide; and 2.2 million had been infected with the HIV/AIDS virus in 2004.  Adequate funding was needed for Government children's programmes, and to strengthen the capacity of parliamentarians and civil society to protect children.  Despite progress made in some areas, the use of children in armed conflict, trafficking of children, violation of the ILO's conventions on child protection and other international instruments governing children's rights issues continued.

    Cameroon was doing its part to protect the youngest members of its society, he continued, by providing improved paediatric health care, drinking water and sanitation facilities, and an expanded vaccination programme.  A national iodized salt campaign was helping to prevent goitre among children under age 15.  Also, Officials were regularly distributing Vitamin A to children.  Since September 2000, Cameroon had provided free primary education to all children, giving priority to young girls.  The Government had full adhered to international legal instruments on the rights of the child, and had adopted legislation to ban sexual tourism.  A draft bill for protection of the family was being considered.  Within the framework of the national poverty eradication strategy, the Government was working to reduce mother-to-child transmissions of HIV/AIDS and assist people living with the disease.

    ROBERT L. SHAFER, Observer of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, said the promotion and protection of children's human rights was paramount.  Children were at the heart of the Millennium Development Goals.  They were the most vulnerable in society, and their needs were often the greatest.  The international community still had much work to do to fully implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  The most fundamental right of the child was the right to life, and the Order would continue to aggressively pursue its child vaccination programmes around the globe.  He said he condemned the violations of the rights of the child.  The family was the fundamental unit of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of its members, particularly children.

    He said the Order's special commitment to ensuring the rights of children living without parental care was reflected in the ongoing expansion and improvement of its many orphanages and schools, which were skilled in catering to the special needs of that most defenceless group.  Furthermore, a timely and enhanced commitment from all relevant entities and actors was required to protect war-affected children.  With the cooperation of its volunteer corps and Maltese International, the Order was helping to assure children the right to be born, protected and educated.

    S. SHAHID HUSAIN, representing the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said children had the natural right to live and grow in a safe and morally stable family environment.  Governments had the duty and challenge to frame policies and laws geared towards the realization of that God-given right.  For that reason, international inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations all had important roles to play to accomplish and further that right.  As indicated in the Secretary-General's report on the follow-up to the Special Session of the General Assembly on Children, most of the goals of "A World Fit for Children" would be achieved only through a major intensification of action for disadvantaged children and families across the world.

    The issue of protection of children from harm and exploitation, with special emphasis on the terrifying effects of armed conflicts, had been promised in the final Outcome Document of the Assembly's twenty-seventh special session.  Harmonizing their positions with the United Nations, successive summits of his Organization and ministerial conferences had also focused on the victimization of children in recent wars and conflicts.  They had called upon Member States to take effective measures to protect children from becoming involved in such conflicts.

    He reiterated his Organization's resolve to continue to work with the United Nations, and its relevant programmes and agencies, as well as competent non-governmental organizations, to facilitate Governments in their efforts to secure humanitarian relief for the children victimized by armed conflicts.  Children were the greatest hope for the future, a future that would bring Member States closer to the harmonious and congenial world community envisaged by the Millennium Development Goals.  Their upbringing and development in a healthy, stable and dynamic family environment must remain the collective goal for the global village.

    VOLODYMYR PEKARCHUK ( Ukraine) said this year his country had become party to the international protocol on prevention of children in armed conflict, and was working to strengthen implementation of the millennium targets related to the protection of children.  In many regions, that goal remained a challenge, as evidenced by the shocking number of children who still suffered from disease and exploitation.  The objectives of the plan of action of "A World Fit for Children" could only be achieved if the international community redoubled its efforts.  In Ukraine, there was great concern over children's health due to the devastating effects of the Chernobyl accident and the HIV/AIDS phenomenon. Also, trafficking of women and children was prevalent.

    Ukraine's Government had instituted legal reform to change that, he continued, noting that the presidential decree to protect children's rights had criminalized exploitation of children, and had set up mechanisms to monitor implementation.   Ukraine had a national programme to protect children against human trafficking and HIV/AIDS, and to provide them with a nurturing family environment.  Thanks to support from United Nations programmes and agencies, particularly the UNICEF, Ukraine had devised action plans to end child trafficking and homelessness.  The international non-governmental organization Shelter for Children provided social protection for children and their reintegration into society.

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