|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-second General Assembly
15th & 16th Meetings (AM & PM)
THIRD COMMITTEE APPROVES RESOLUTION URGING STATES TO STRENGTHEN
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION TO PREVENT, SUPPRESS TERRORISM
Approves Brazil to Host 12th United Nations
Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice
Guided by the need to effectively respond to terrorism, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) this afternoon approved, by consensus, a resolution urging United Nations Member States to strengthen international cooperation to the greatest extent possible to prevent and suppress terrorism.
The text further urged States that had not yet done so, to consider becoming parties without delay to the existing international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism.
Still focusing on the issue of crime, and once more acting without a vote, the Committee then approved another text, by which it accepted the Brazilian Government’s offer to host the twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. The resolution further invited Member States to be represented at that conference at the highest possible level.
The Committee also continued its discussion on the rights of children hearing from almost 50 speakers with many delegates stressing the promotion and protection of child rights, the critical importance of education in the promotion of children’s rights, while others decried violence against children, child labour and the trafficking of children, particularly girls, into hazardous labour situations. The issue of children in conflict situations once again featured prominently in today’s discussions.
A youth delegate from Thailand said that progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals was not happening fast enough, and that alternative solutions to those goals had to be sought. “Promise has to be matched with implementation”, he said. Noting that health was the most important issue concerning children today, he warned that unless Goal 4 was achieved by 2015, 4.6 million children would have been deprived of life because of lack of adequate immunization, basic nutrition and sanitation.
He went on to say that an act of violence not only facilitated further violence, but also legitimized it. Economic exploitation, gender inequality and hunger were all forms of violence visited on children. The stark contrast between gloomy slums situated right next to shiny skyscrapers -- as could be seen in most of the world’s major cities today -- was a truthful and worrisome reflection of the state of the world. Microfinance was a vital tool for youth to get started, while development was change for the better, he said. Every effort must be expended to develop the world and make it fit for children, he urged.
Domestic labour performed by girls trafficked into labour situations, although not recognized by all countries as a hazardous form of child labour, was, in its most extreme forms, tantamount to violence, the representative of the International Labour Organization (ILO) told the Committee today.
Gender discrimination had to be addressed as part of a comprehensive violence prevention strategy, the representative of Norway said. Many countries addressed the need for a Special Rapporteur on violence against children, some favouring someone with a strong mandate while others recommended that the issue be studied further.
Also today the representative of Pakistan introduced three draft resolutions for the Committee’s consideration entitled: Follow-up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing; Implementation of the Outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly; and Follow-up to the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and Beyond.
The representative of Benin also introduced a draft resolution on the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders.
Statements were also made today by the representatives of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Colombia, Republic of Korea, China, Qatar, Algeria, Belarus, Russian Federation, Cuba, Iceland, Iraq, India, Canada, Switzerland, Viet Nam, Malaysia, Syria, Côte d’Ivoire, San Marino, Chile, Iran, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, Kenya, Venezuela, Myanmar, Senegal, Ghana, Uruguay, Slovenia, Albania, Ukraine, Morocco, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates and Nigeria.
The representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also spoke.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 19 October, to continue its general discussion on the rights of children.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to continue its discussion of the rights of children. (For more background information, please see Press Release GA/SHC/3888 of 17 October.)
The Committee was also expected to take action two draft resolutions recommended to it by the Economic and Social Council. The first, titled Technical assistance for implementing the international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism (document A/C.3/62/L.2), would urge Member States to strengthen international cooperation “to the greatest extent possible” to prevent and suppress terrorism, and would ask that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) provide, “subject to the availability of extrabudgetary resources”, assistance to that end. It would also ask the Secretary-General to provide the UNODC with sufficient resources for its activities, including in the area of counter-terrorism.
The second draft resolution awaiting action was titled Follow-up to the Eleventh United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and preparations for the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (document A/C.3/62/L.3). It would reiterate an invitation to Member States to implement the Bangkok Declaration on Synergies and Responses: Strategic Alliances in Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and the recommendations that had been adopted by the Eleventh Congress, where appropriate. It would also encourage Member States to consider using a reporting checklist on implementation of the Declaration, drawn up by the Government of Thailand, and would ask the Secretary-General to facilitate the organization of regional preparatory meetings for the Twelfth Congress.
The Committee will also hear the introduction of these draft resolutions: Implementation of the Outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly (document A/C.3/62/L.10); Follow-up to the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and Beyond (document A/C.3/62/L.8); Follow-up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing (document A/C.3/62/L.9); United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (document A/C.3/62/L.11); and International cooperation against the world drug problem (document A/C.3/62/L.13).
MASUD BIN MOMEN ( Bangladesh) said children had the most potential human resources for the future of a nation. His country had given utmost priority to addressing the needs and problems of children and had taken all the necessary measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights, as well as fundamental freedoms by children with disabilities.
Calling for the proper implementation of the Secretary-General’s recommendations contained in the reports before the Committee this afternoon, he said Bangladesh was constitutionally committed to children’s advancement. As he pledged his country’s domestic and global commitment to the issue, he highlighted that it was a State party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and was one of the first countries to sign, ratify and report on both optional protocols of the Convention. To further establish child rights, the Government has implemented two national plans of action, with a third plan of action for children on the way. That third plan would take into account the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals and A World Fit for Children Plan of Action. In addition, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper has been prepared with particular focus on the establishment of child rights.
The Government of Bangladesh has invested an increased amount of budgetary resources throughout the past three decades, with the period from 2001 through 2010 declared the Decade of the Rights of the Child, while 30 September was celebrated as the “Girl Child Day”. He noted that Bangladesh was represented in the Committee on the Rights of Child. Continuing, he pointed out his country’s achievement of establishing 100 per cent gender parity in primary and secondary enrolments by the end of last year. The introduction of various incentives had largely increased enrolment and prevented dropouts among girls. Parents had been provided with microcredit to reduce dependency on the labour of their children. He said, although there had been notable success since the 2002 special session of the General Assembly on children, considerable gaps remained between legislation and enforcement. Progress in planning had not matched required investments.
KAMRAN MURTAZA ( Pakistan) said his country was a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Labour Organization (ILO) Core Convention. It was also a signatory to the Optional Protocols on Child Pornography and Children’s Recruitment in Armed Conflicts. Recent steps to promote the rights of the child in Pakistan included the establishment of a National Commission for Child Welfare and Development with subsidiary institutions all over the country. Further, corporal punishment in schools was now banned, an ordinance was in effect against the smuggling of children, education was free up to the tenth grade, and eradication of child labour was a Government priority. Through collaboration between the Government, private sector, the ILO and civil society, child labour had already been eradicated from the soccer ball and carpet industries.
Achieving the targets for children that had been set for 2010 and 2015 would require unprecedented effort, he said. The years between the two dates would show whether enough resources and commitment would be invested to fulfil the rights of the children who were the foundation for the prosperity of future societies. December’s high-level plenary meeting on follow-up to the outcome of the special session on children should address those issues.
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) said her country had submitted to the Secretariat a detailed report on the actions it had taken related to the action plan of “A World Fit for Children”. It listed a number of significant actions and advancements, such as a new Code on Childhood and Adolescence that went into force in May. Also being put into effect were a strategy for the elimination of child labour and, with help from the European Union, a programme to help street children. The Colombian Institute of Family Welfare, in coordination with Government ministries, had been implementing a programme for children removed from illegal armed groups. Some 3,326 children had been covered by that programme from November 1999 through August 2007. Strategies to prevent the use of children by illegal armed groups had also been strengthened.
Turning to the strategic review of the Machel Study into children and armed conflict, and the comprehensive document that was to follow that review in 2008, she said it was important that States be allowed to express their considerations vis-à-vis the recommendations that would be made. On follow-up action on violence against children, she said cooperation from the United Nations system and other actors was crucial in support of national actions. However, more careful and detailed analysis was needed on the proposal for a Special Representative to be appointed on that issue; it was important that any decision taken by the General Assembly not affect the process of rationalization of mandates within the United Nations.
PARK MI-JEONG ( Republic of Korea) said that among the various challenges that humankind was facing around the world was the plight of children who were victimized and exposed to armed conflicts, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violence. In particular, the situation of children in sub-Saharan Africa and the least developed countries was worrying, and deserved the international community’s special attention. Her delegation supported more consolidated and coordinated efforts by the United Nations system to end violence against children.
She said her delegation also strongly supported the recommendations of the Special Representative, which included ending impunity, prioritizing children’s security, stopping gender-based violence, and integrating children’s rights into peacemaking and peacebuilding. The Government of the Republic of Korea had implemented a number of domestic guidelines to protect children, including establishing a Child Rights Monitoring Centre, which was to prevent child trafficking, child prostitution and child pornography. Creating a world fit for children was a key element in the Millennium Development Goals, and the international community’s promises must now be translated into action, she concluded.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said it was necessary for the international community to strengthen cooperation and take effective measures to further promote and protect children’s rights. Since its children made up one fifth of the world’s child population, China was acutely aware of its responsibilities in the promotion and protection of children’s rights. It had now put into place the basic domestic legislative and regulatory system for the protection of children’s rights, consisting of laws on topics such as adoption and compulsory education.
Since ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, he said, the Chinese Government had ratified and joined numerous other conventions on the rights of children, as well as fulfilling its obligations under the various conventions. China was in the midst of economic and social transition, he said, with gaps between the urban and rural areas, differences among regions, and “various social problems still quite pronounced”. The Chinese Government understood clearly that much remained to be done to protect the rights of the child. China would continue its efforts, with the international community, to build a world fit for children.
FATMA AL-OBAIDLY ( Qatar) said the rights of children to education, health and protection from abuse and exploitation were enshrined in her country’s Constitution and laws. Progress had been made over many years to develop family health care and to extend education. Child mortality had gone down, school enrolment had gone up for both genders, and national economic prosperity meant a better standard of living for all.
The Superior Council of the Family had undertaken a number of actions to develop policies and legislation, she said. They included a national strategy -- bringing together Government ministries and civil society -- to ensure the health and education of children. A school literacy network had also been established, to enrich children’s cultural environment with national competitions in reading and writing. Qatar was committed to consolidating its national action plan on children, to ensure the prevalence of children’s rights and to ensure the implementation of relevant international conventions and protocols.
YOUCEF YOUSFI ( Algeria) said that if children were still victims of maltreatment, exploitation and violence, it was not due to a lack of political will on the part of the international community, which had never ceased to express its commitment to the protection of children. The high-level meeting on children in the General Assembly on 11 and 12 December would be an opportunity to identify hurdles standing in the way of concrete, equitable and concerted action, with an exchange of international cooperation, experiences and best practices.
For Algeria, he said, children were the most precious asset; they were the future. For the State, their education, mental and physical health, and protection were priorities. Great importance was attached to children growing up in the family, which was their natural environment. Abandoned children were placed with families under the kafala system, assuring that their material needs and integration into society were taken care of. Conscious of the repercussions of violence on the mental and physical health of children, Algeria had elaborated a national strategy to combat violence against children that took into account the multidimensional aspect of such violence.
SERGEI RACHKOV ( Belarus) said his country considered the issue of protection of children’s rights as one of the most important issues before the United Nations. He welcomed the efforts to promote the issue, but said the international community must be more attentive to it. State policy in his country was regulated by a law on the rights of the child, as well as a code on marriage and the family. The State’s strategy for the protection of children had as its basic objective to provide for the full development of children, enhancing their quality of life and developing in children the habits for a healthy way of life.
In the last years, he said, Belarus had undertaken numerous efforts, both legal and social, to care for “social orphans” who had been abandoned by their families. A number of institutions for the care of those orphans had been closed, with the children instead being placed with families. Sanctions against parents who abandoned their children had been strengthened. The number of minors serving sentences in prison had decreased by 40 per cent in the last three years, which was linked to the decrease in punitive measures against minors. He noted that Belarus attached great importance to the development of international cooperation in the promotion of children’s rights, and called on all countries to take an active part in the upcoming special session of the General Assembly on children.
BORIS CHERNENKO ( Russian Federation) said that the creation of a new international institution designed to provide assistance to States in protecting the rights of children was a trend; in the reform of the United Nations as a whole, as well as in the reform of the Human Rights Council, it wasimportant to avoid duplication of work. The final goal should not be creating high-level structures, he said, but protecting children. Those approaches had to serve as a guide when considering a special representative on violence against children.
He said the Convention on the Rights of the Child continued to be the multilateral founding agreement on the basis of which States developed strategies around the world. The Russian Federation had adopted a federal targeted programme which included subprogrammes, on “a healthy generation”, as well as children and the family. He added that the issue of providing for the rights of children required the coordinated efforts of all. Respecting the rights of children and improving their status remained an absolute value. States should intensify actions at all levels on this issue.
CLAUDIA PEREZ ALVAREZ ( Cuba) said children were threatened by wars, hunger, greed and inequality, with 218 million children under the age of five often working for low wages in areas such as mining and agriculture. She added that 300,000 children were involved in armed conflicts, with an equal number enduring occupation, displacement, bombings and insecurity. Little progress had been made globally since the adoption of the Convention of the Right of the Child in 1989. However, she said Cuba had made “substantive achievements”, creating conditions for children’s happiness. Cuba had one of the world’s lowest child mortality rates, and all children received free compulsory education through ninth grade, so that the country had a 99.6 per cent literacy rate.
She said the economic sanctions imposed on Cuba by the United States were the “most serious form of violence against Cuban children and people, in general”. The negative impact of those sanctions had been escalated by the new measures contained in the Bush plan, which would strengthen the blockade. She called for action to end child abuse, the sex trade, people trafficking, drug consumption, child labour, and the involvement of minors in armed conflicts. She closed by citing Jose Marti in saying, “children are the world’s hope”.
HJALMAR W. HANNESSON ( Iceland) said the Convention on the Rights of the Child had been an “invaluable tool”, and that his country was fully committed to the implementation of that instrument together with its optional Protocols. He praised the study submitted to the General Assembly by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro last year, calling it a “catalyst for change”, and reiterated Mr. Pinheiro’s call for the establishment of a special representative on violence against children. He likewise welcomed the report of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, in document A/62/228. He urged all Member States to apply “concrete and targeted measures against recalcitrant violators” covered in the report.
The Icelandic Parliament had recently adopted a plan of action to strengthen children’s rights and support to families, and an inter-ministerial coordinating body had been appointed to implement that plan of action. He said priorities in the plan included an examination and monitoring of the implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, as well as the Council of Europe’s Committee of Minister’s Recommendation on supporting positive parenting and the identification of appropriate strategies for non-violent upbringing of children. The action plan would also start the process for the ratification of the new Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse.
SHIRIEN KAMARAN ( Iraq) said the children of today were the builders of the future; if they did not have rights now, it would be difficult to acquire them later. Children in Iraq suffered from instability, insecurity and terrorism. They had been exposed to the danger of explosive devices such as car bombs, which left them injured or dead. They needed education, so as to bear the responsibility of building a new Iraq.
A number of measures to consolidate and protect the rights of children in Iraq had been undertaken, she said. A committee was studying the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Iraq had ratified in 1994. It was Iraq’s intention to adopt a unified law for the protection of the rights of the child that would be in harmony with global developments. The Constitution prohibited the exploitation of children. The international community -- mainly the United Nations and humanitarian organizations -- were called upon to cooperate with Iraq and with non-governmental organizations to give special attention to the country’s children, to eradicate their suffering and give them a stable life.
PRASANNA ACHARYA ( India) said progress on achieving the goals set out in “A World Fit for Children” had been rather unsatisfactory. Mortality among children under five years old remained high in many countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, and 1 billion children lived in poverty. The Secretary-General was right to call for a “scaled-up” response to the challenges. The need of the hour was to address the underlying causes for one half of the world’s children living in miserable conditions; besides focusing on children’s rights, attention and support had to be given to the developmental needs of children.
He said India had had a proactive stand on child protection. In February 2007, it had set up a national commission to ensure speedy trials for those charged with child-related offences. India remained strongly committed to the full eradication of all forms of child labour, starting with its most exploitative and hazardous forms. Legislation alone was not enough; a holistic, multi-pronged and concerted effort was needed. A ban on employing children under the age of 14 as domestic help or at “eateries”, passed one year ago, had been an important milestone. India now was running the world’s biggest programme to withdraw children from economic activities.
JESSICA BLITT (Canada), speaking on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, said the Convention on the Rights of the Child must be the “primary standard” in the promotion and protection of the rights of the child. She stressed the need to fully implement that instrument. She welcomed the adoption by the General Assembly of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which would ensure that the human rights of the most vulnerable children would be respected. Praising the work of the Secretary General’s Independent Expert, Sergio Pinheiro, on the plight of children subjected to violence, she said that all violence against children was preventable. The international community must find the most effective means of following up on Mr. Pinheiro’s report, at the national, regional and global levels.
She welcomed the 10-year strategic review carried out by the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and called for greater action by Member States to ensure accountability and prevent violations against children. She also stressed the need to enforce targeted measures against parties to a conflict who willingly committed violations against children. The Security Council must use all tools at its disposal, including the adoption of peacekeeping mission mandates. She noted that five years had passed since the special session of the General Assembly at which a commitment had been made to create “A World Fit For Children”. She looked forward to participating in the five-year review of this occasion in December.
JEAN-DANIEL VIGNY ( Switzerland) noted that girls continued to face serious human rights violations. Physical violence, sexual abuse, economic and sexual exploitation, early and forced marriages, genital mutilation, trafficking, as well as kidnapping, were serious infringements of every girl’s right not to be subjected to torture or to inhuman and degrading treatment; to enjoy the best possible health; not to be separated from parents; to benefit from the right to education and to physical and mental development. Switzerland attached great importance to those serious violations of the rights of the child, and welcomed the different initiatives in that area at the national and international levels. As a State party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and their respective optional protocols, his country was committed to taking all necessary measures to eliminate discriminatory practices against girls and women in all areas, both at the national and international levels.
He argued that, whether violence was perpetuated against girls or boys; whether it took place in the family, the community, the school, the workplace or institutions; and whether it occurred in times of peace or during conflict, it was always unjustifiable and must be prevented. His country endorsed the position of the independent expert for the United Nations study on violence against children that effective and coordinated action should be taken at all levels to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against children. Switzerland understood the expert’s concern that the follow-up of the study should take place at a high level within the United Nations, including the creation of a new mandate for a special representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children. It was, however, concerned about the increasing number of gaps and duplications between different mechanisms that already existed within the Organization. Because of its mandate, its constant advocacy for the rights of the child, its expertise at the political, as well as the operational, level, and its considerable presence on the ground, UNICEF had a unique position within the United Nations operational system and was especially well placed to follow up on the Secretary-General’s report on violence against children.
PHAM HAI ANH ( Viet Nam) said his country was doing its utmost to ensure effective implementation of the 10 principles and objectives of the “A World Fit for Children” Declaration. In the area of promoting health for children, free medical care, including important vaccines, had been provided for over 90 per cent of children under the age of six years.
He said innovative ways of providing education were also aiding Viet Nam’s progress towards enabling all children, including children with disabilities and street children, to enjoy quality schooling. Primary schools were present in almost every ethnic minority commune and hamlet, he said. That included boarding schools for ethnic minority children in all mountainous districts. A child-friendly justice system was taking shape, he said, and children affected by HIV/AIDS were receiving attention with the provision of medical care and the implementation of anti-discrimination measures. However, regardless of the progress, there was still much to be done, yet Viet Nam remained convinced that, with persistence, the goal of a world fit for children would be reached.
RAGNE BIRTE LUND ( Norway) said the many anniversaries for the adoption of conventions and protocols on the rights of children, as well as landmark reports on the worldwide situation of children, provided the United Nations system and the rest of society with a chance to reflect on achievements and remaining challenges relating to child rights. Progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals was uneven, she said, and renewed resolve was needed to close the gaps between the norms and their implementation.
She said the multiple forms of discrimination and practices that disproportionately affected girls should be given due attention. Gender discrimination must be addressed as part of a comprehensive violence prevention strategy. Norway favoured a strong mandate for an independent high-level advocate to lead international efforts in close cooperation with UNICEF and other key organizations. Regarding the forthcoming special session of the General Assembly on children, Norway said the proposed round tables should provide prominent attention to the protection of child rights. She observed that the participation of children was not only the right to be heard, to be seen and to be taken seriously, but it was the right to be informed and to have influence.
BASHID RASTAM ( Malaysia), calling children the future custodians of the world, said their rights had to be protected. Malaysia firmly believed that children’s rights should be at the forefront of the development agenda in every country. Many problems faced by children were closely related to under-development, and they could not be solved unless underlying developmental issues were seriously addressed. Malaysia, under its current five-year plan, had set out specific initiatives for children, including special attention to childcare and education. Under the plan, broad socio-economic improvements -- such as reducing income inequality and improving health care, shelter, as well as water supplies -- would help children.
Violence against children could never be justified, he said. Poverty, income inequality, political instability and conflict could put more children at risk of violence. International partnerships were urgently needed to address such root causes. Steps taken in Malaysia had included the establishment of Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) teams in hospitals and a toll-free hotline to report abuse. The Government continued to work closely with civil society, through the forging of “smart partnerships”, to enhance measures to promote and protect the rights of children.
WARIF HALABI ( Syria) pointed out that today’s children were the leaders of the future, and added that her Government accorded the issues facing children a special place. Her country had focused on early childhood by implementing a national plan for the protection of children and their health. Education was important to enable children to acquire knowledge and broaden their horizons, she said. Current plans of work sought to expand curative and preventive health services for children for the duration of their childhood.
At the international level, Syria had ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1993, as well as its optional protocols, she said. Addressing the situation of children living under Israeli occupation in the Syrian Golan since 1967, she said that the closure of Arabic language teaching institutions, the imposition of an Israeli curriculum, and the imposition of Israeli citizenship was an attempt to undermine the pan-Arab identity of the young. Her delegation had carefully read the Secretary-General’s report on the special session on children, and said they had hoped that document would address in detail the suffering of children in the Golan. Questions on the rights of children were important, she said, and added that violence against children must be eliminated to properly prepare the way for the generations of the future.
FLORE CHANTAL ASSOUMOU (C ôte d’Ivoire) said that, despite what had been done at the international level, children from one end of the planet to the other could still be seen living in the streets, working in kitchens, involved in pornographic films, toiling in cocoa fields, and in minefields and in battles. Ten years after the Machel report, children still “carried on their frail shoulders” the heavy weapons that would be used to kill.
Her Government, aware of the phenomenon, would be taking firm action to implement its international commitments. Thanks to the Ouagadougou political agreement of 4 March 2007, children of school age throughout the country could return to class for the first time since the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire began. A national plan for the reintegration of children who had been affected by conflict was in the pipeline; so, too, was the strengthening of institutions that dealt with long-term help to child soldiers in their communities.
The authorities in Côte d’Ivoire had put the promotion of the rights of the child and the family at the centre of its concerns. The root cause of problems afflicting children was poverty. As developed countries got richer, developing ones got poorer. An appeal went out to developed countries which had not already done so to ramp up their official development assistance (ODA), and to lift all tariff barriers that unjustly kept out products from developing countries. The future of children hinged on the future of their countries.
ELENA MOLARONI ( San Marino) said that her country had launched an awareness campaign during its recent chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. It had always been very active in safeguarding children, in particular those with disabilities. San Marino had been among the first to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which also addressed the issue of children with disabilities. More than 40 years ago, her country had begun integrating children with disabilities into the regular school system; all teachers were now trained to teach such children. She said that during her school years, there were always at least two children with disabilities among her classmates; now the number of such children was far less, thanks to better health care.
Ninety per cent of children with disabilities in developing countries did not attend school, she said, citing a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) study. In the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, such children were underrepresented in higher education. Children with disabilities were also more likely to be victims of violence or trafficking. They had to be given equal rights, and that could only be done if States signed and ratified the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities -– article 7 of which dealt with children with disabilities -– and fully applied all its principles.
BELĖN SAPAG MUŇOZ DE LA PEŇA ( Chile) quoted her country’s Nobel laureate Gabriela Mistal as saying that the future of children was today, as tomorrow would be too later. Under President Michelle Bachelet, Chile had launched an integral children’s policy that was without precedent in Latin America, with public health care for pregnant women as its lynchpin. Action to help children from the poorest households and most vulnerable situations had also been put in place. For every dollar spent on children’s health, eight dollars was saved in dealing with problems later in life. Chile was committed to ending all forms of violence against children, from child soldiers to urban violence to violence within the family. His delegation supported the proposal for a special representative on violence against children for a set period of time; such an initiative would be in keeping with the promotion of the rights of children.
More attention had to be paid to peer violence or bullying in educational settings, she said. Chile supported the adoption of United Nations guidelines for children without parents or caregivers, and hoped that they would be duly studied. Regarding the girl child, she highlighted the sad plight of girls affected by famine, female genital mutilation, fistula and so forth. No new commitments were needed; the ones that had already been made had to be met.
MAHMOUD KHANIGOOYABAD ( Iran) said almost 11 million children under five years old died every year of preventable diseases. Nearly half of the 40 million people displaced by conflict or occupation were children. The international community had to deal with the root causes of the problems, such as poverty, he said.
Iran had introduced sound social and legal measures for the promotion and protection of the rights of children. Those included Children’s Courts which promoted a harmonious family environment, positive discipline, as well as an understanding of child development, he said. Iran had been pleased to note the independent visits of Professor Pinheiro and of Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, he concluded.
RODRIGO RIOFRIO ( Ecuador) said his country reiterated its firm commitment to the human rights instruments to which it was party, in particular those pertaining to children’s rights. His Government had set up a national council on childhood and adolescence comprising State and civil society organizations that worked with children and adolescents. The penal code of Ecuador had been reformed to lay down harsher punishments for human traffickers, including punishments for everyone involved in this crime against children.
Ecuador celebrated the General Assembly’s adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Indigenous People, he said, adding that this guaranteed the rights of indigenous people to raise their children with their own language and within their own culture. His country also welcomed a special representative on violence against children, and said that a high-level representative would promote international cooperation in the struggle against such violence. Ecuador was open to cooperation with all Member States in order to improve the global situation of children, he said, stressing that the international community had a responsibility to promote human rights.
NURBEK JEENBAEV ( Kyrgyzstan) described the practical steps that his country had been taking to fight child poverty and improve the lot of children. It had been cooperating with the ILO to end child labour; a State programme to eradicate its worst forms was being drawn up. A State programme to protect the rights of children had also been adopted in 2001, titled “The New Generation”, and a Children’s Code -- the only one of its kind in Central Asia -– had been developed with help from UNICEF.
Social organizations in Kyrgyzstan had been identifying problem families, and help was going out to street and homeless children, he said. More than 954,000 children had been assisted by that effort. Work was under way to draw up normative documents for the implementation of the Children’s Code. Various social projects targeted street children, those with limited capacities and orphans. The UNICEF, whose Executive Board had visited Kyrgyzstan in April this year, had been assisting in a number of way, including the development of a policy on juvenile justice and incarceration.
DJANKOU NDJONKOU, representative of the International Labour Organization (ILO), said millions of boy and girl labourers faced violence at their work places. Some categories of work had been recognized as the worst forms of child labour, such as slavery, recruitment of children for use in armed conflict and sexual exploitation, among others. According to the ILO, 1.2 million children had been trafficked into child-labour situations he said, adding that domestic labour performed by girls -- even though it was not recognized by all countries as a hazardous form of child labour -- was in its extreme forms tantamount to violence by its very nature.
An important mechanism for combating child labour was South-South cooperation, he said, citing the example of Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa, as well as Brazil and Portugal, who exchanged good practices to combat the worst forms of child labour. Regarding children in armed conflict, ILO’s focus was on social reintegration, as well as prevention of the recruitment of children. In conclusion, he reaffirmed ILO’s calls for zero tolerance for the worst forms of child labour and reiterated the agency’s commitment and determination to combat such labour and violence against children.
Introduction of Draft Resolutions
The representative of Pakistan, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced the draft resolution titled Implementation of the Outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly (document A/C.3/62/L.10).
The draft resolution, tabled annually by the Group of 77 and China, had been adopted by consensus in past years by the Committee and the Assembly, with the aim to follow up on the World Summit for Social Development, in Copenhagen, she said. More than a decade after Copenhagen, much needed to be done. Perverse poverty persisted in many parts of the world. The draft resolution maintained a balance between the three pillars of the Summit: poverty eradication, employment generation and social integration. It also highlighted the need to devise strategies to generate full and productive employment for all, in order to create an environment conducive to sustainable development.
The representative of Pakistan introduced, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, a draft resolution entitled Follow-up to the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and Beyond (document A/C.3/62/L.8).
The specific intention of the draft was to concentrate on one of the mandated objectives of the International Year of the Family, which was to “strengthen the capacity of national mechanisms and institutions to formulate, implement and monitor policies on families”. The overall objective of the text, which Pakistan hoped would be adopted by consensus during the sixty-second session, was to ensure that the mandated objectives of the International Year of the Family received all the attention they deserved.
The representative of Pakistan, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, then introduced the draft resolution titled Follow-up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing (document A/C.3/62/L.9).
The draft resolution was a traditional initiative of the Group, and had been adopted by the Assembly by consensus since 2000, she said. Building on past resolutions, it drew on suggestions from the Secretary-General’s report on the Assembly, with emphasis on capacity-building to combat poverty among the aged. Informal consultations were in progress, and it was hoped that the co-sponsorship would be as broad as in past years.
The representative of Mexico then introduced the draft resolution titled International cooperation against the world drug control (document A/C.3/62/L.13).
The United Nations, States and civil society had to work for a world free of drugs. There had been open consultations on the draft resolution, and it was hoped that it would be adopted by consensus.
The representative of Benin introduced a draft resolution on the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (document A/C.3/62/L.11).
The draft resolution before the Committee sought to update a previous resolution on the Institute, and drew from two reports of the Secretary-General regarding that Institute, he said. With the resolution, Benin hoped to acknowledge that “this body” was aware of the devastating impact of crime on African States and the harm done to sustainable development in Africa. The Institute needed international cooperation if it was to succeed in its mandate, given its limited resources. He hoped that the resolution would be adopted by consensus this year as in past years.
Action on Texts
The Committee then approved, by consensus, the draft resolution titled Technical assistance for implementing the international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism (document A/C.3/62/L.2). The Secretary read a statement on programme budget implications. The representative of Pakistan said that, while his delegation had joined the consensus, it had a number of reservations that it wished to put on the record. Among those concerns, Pakistan did not support the view that the Counter-terrorism Executive Director had a role subservient to that of the UNODC. It also believed that overall capacity-building was a State responsibility; the UNODC did not have a mandate for overarching national capacity-building, though it could provide technical assistance.
The CHAIRMAN invited the Committee to take action on draft resolution A/C.3/62/L.3 entitled Follow-up to the Eleventh United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and preparations for the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.
The Secretary then read a statement on programme budget implications.
The representative of Brazil said that they had offered to host the twelfth conference, and that the Government of Brazil would greatly appreciate the Third Committee’s support for its offer.
The representative of Qatar took the floor to say that they had consulted with the Permanent Representative of Brazil on hosting the conference which both Governments had proposed to host. Qatar had agreed to support the Government of Brazil’s bid to host the conference and, in exchange, Brazil would support Qatar in hosting a conference on corruption at a later date.
Brazil then thanked Qatar’s delegation for its flexibility.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote. The resolution was amended to reflect that Brazil would be hosting the Twelfth United Nations Congress.
Z.D. MUBURI-MUITA ( Kenya) said that his country acknowledged that investing in children and respecting their rights laid the foundation for sustainable and equitable socio-economic transformation that was necessary for the eradication of poverty and injustice and the attainment of peace and security. The goals set forth in the Millennium Development Goals would remain mere platitudes until they were transformed into actionable domestic legislation, he said. Kenya realized that the existence of certain “customary practices” in the country relegated children to secondary status in decision-making, which impeded the full realization of the rights of children.
Turning to the field of education, he said Kenya had made advances in primary school enrolment, with the remaining million children who were not enrolled in school coming mainly from pastoralist communities. The introduction of mobile primary schools, as well as the school-feeding programme in food-deficient areas, had further enhanced enrolment, he said. In conclusion, he noted that the ravages of HIV/AIDS had resulted in high numbers of orphaned children. Kenya believed, he said, that children of the world shared a common destiny as members of the human race, and that global collaboration was essential to success in securing their well-being.
ANGELA CAVELLIERI ( Venezuela) said that her country had adopted a new approach to the care of children, prioritizing the issue and ensuring protection of children’s rights. Venezuela had adapted its national legislation to the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and had promulgated a national law on the protection of children and adolescents. Based on the humanist conception that sustained Venezuela’s new model of social and economic development, the Government’s policy to promote and protect the rights of children and adolescents emphasized support for low-income families and working mothers.
Along with a guaranteed right to education, she also mentioned a project, which provided a balanced diet to schoolchildren; an immunization programme; and the establishment and strengthening of a commission to combat sexual abuse and exploitation. Children were listed in schools, even if they did not have personal identification papers. Newborn registration units were also opening in hospitals.
Venezuela recognized that children living in poverty were unable to fully benefit from their rights and develop their capacities, she continued. For those reasons, her Government was committed to eradicating the structural causes of poverty, inequity, violence and violations of the human rights of children and adolescents. The Government’s “social mission” programmes were implemented in the areas of health, education, housing and employment, among others. The country firmly condemned all forms of violence against children and adolescents, as well as the use of children in armed conflicts. A party to several international instruments, Venezuela had also recently ratified the Protocol to prevent, repress and sanction trafficking in persons, especially women and children. Venezuela endorsed the incorporation of items relative to the protection of children in programmes of the United Nations system.
HLA MYINT ( Myanmar) said that, despite the strong commitment by Member States to promote and protect children’s rights, aid flows had not reached a level that would enable more investment in children. As noted in the Secretary-General’s report, the number of children dying before their fifth birthday worldwide had fallen below 10 million for the first time in 2006. The under-five mortality rate in Myanmar had been reduced to 66.1 per 1,000 from 82.4 in 1990, and it was expected to decline by two thirds by 2015. Globally, measles deaths had declined between 1999 and 2005, and the polio programme had had significant achievements. In Myanmar, widespread child immunization had been employed, and 87 per cent of one-year-olds were immunized against measles in 2003. Unfortunately, maternal mortality rates remained a problem for Myanmar as in the rest of the developing world.
She said the study on violence against children had successfully raised global awareness, yet the follow-up had just begun and progress should not be allowed to give ground to complacency. In this, the appointment of a special representative to provide high-level leadership would be a step in the right direction.
On the report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed conflict, she noted the visit of the Special Representative to Myanmar last June and the substantive discussions with high-level officials that were held. There had been a follow-up, high-level coordination meeting had taken place in September. A Government focal point had been appointed and a working group had been formed to facilitate the establishment of a monitoring and reporting mechanism, in consultation with the United Nations country team. She said the Government was fully committed to preventing recruitment of children under 18 into the armed forces. It had also formed a National AIDS Committee to effectively control HIV and to closely supervise the Ministry of Health’s national AIDS control programme. Through those efforts, “a world fit for children” was being built, she said.
LEYSA SOW ( Senegal) said that, among the general public, particularly in rural areas, the rights of children were not well understood. At the State level, many treaties and conventions had not been fully applied. Many impoverished families were liable to use their daughters as a strategy for survival, and weak regulation had led to the abuse of such young girls as child domestic workers. Disabled children were particularly vulnerable; their marginalization or exclusion from basic education, and their vulnerability to abuse, was cause for concern.
Senegal had made significant advances in education and health, notably in access to prenatal care for expectant mothers, she said. Female genital mutilation had been outlawed since 2001. Fistula, which had affected developing countries, particularly in Africa, had devastating effects. Urgent action was needed at the local and international level to put a halt to that problem. In Senegal, the Government had taken energetic steps, on instructions from its Head of State, with free treatment for fistula victims and initiatives to prohibit forced marriages.
LESLIE K. CHRISTIAN ( Ghana) noted that the General Assembly would review the final document of the special session on children in December, and said she expected the review to spur Governments and other stakeholders to think of new ways to achieve the goals set forth in 2002. As for violence against children, he said the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on Children’s Rights were important monitoring instruments. In addition, the report on violence against children from the Secretary-General’s independent expert, Sergio Pinheiro, offered useful suggestions for national, regional and international frameworks for protecting children. However, Governments of many countries lacked the capacity to implement those frameworks, and the goals of the report could be achieved if more resources were allocated to those nations.
Turning to the issue of children and armed conflict, he noted that rape was being used as a weapon of war in many conflict-ridden countries, and girls were particular targets. Violations often went undetected and unpunished, and such a climate of impunity was disturbing. In places where the recruitment of children in armed conflict had been a problem, finding ways to reintegrate children into society was challenging. Yet, another example of the negative impact of armed conflict on children was the insecurity they faced at refugee camps or camps for internally displaced persons. He said Ghana urged all countries to sign, ratify and fully implement international instruments relating to the situation of children in armed conflict. War violated every right of the child: the right to life, the right to be with family and community, the right to health, the right to development of the personality, and the right to be nurtured and protected.
DIANELA PI (Uruguay), underlining the importance given by her country to the promotion and protection of the rights of children, said that such rights had to be factored into all domains -- public policy, legislation and daily social relations. In terms of legislation, Uruguay had taken a number of steps to amend existing legislation, creating effective mechanisms to protect children and to reduce the negative impact of economic and social constraints.
Sustained efforts had to be deployed to find viable and durable solutions to the most serious forms of child labour, she said. More had to be done by the international community, as well, to confront violence against children. On that point, Mr. Pinheiro had made pertinent recommendations which Uruguay supported. Priority had to be assigned to the elimination of violence at home and within the family. Uruguay supported the proposal for a special representative on violence against children who would advocate for the elimination of all forms of violence against children.
SANJA ŠTIGLIC ( Slovenia) said child protection had been a priority in her country’s foreign policy. There had been a number of significant developments in past years, particularly in the normative domain, such as universal ratification of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. Such documents had to be translated into action. This year marked the fifth anniversary of the Optional Protocols to the Convention, the General Assembly special session on children, and the Machel study. New impetus could be given now to the promotion and protection of the rights of children at all levels.
She said the Study on the Violence against Children, prepared by Professor Pinheiro, indicated clearly that such violence had been taking place in every country, regardless of geographical position, culture and level of development. Slovenia supported the recommendation for the appointment of a Special Representative on that issue. Slovenia was pleased to see progress being made regarding children and armed conflict. Important steps had been taken in the fight against impunity, with the entry into force of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court which defined the recruiting of children into armed forces and armed groups as a war crime. Slovenia, together with the city of Ljubljana and non-governmental organizations had set up a foundation that gave particular attention to the psycho-social rehabilitation of children affected by conflict in the Western Balkans, Iraq and North Caucasus.
GUNTAPON PROMMOON, Youth Delegate ( Thailand), said that progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals was not happening fast enough, and that alternative solutions to the goal had to be sought. Promise had to be matched with implementation, he said. Health was the most important issue concerning children today, adding that unless Goal 4 was achieved by 2015, 4.6 million children would have been deprived of life because of lack of adequate immunization, basic nutrition and sanitation. It was our duty, and their right, for the international community to provide them with such basic services, he said.
Turning to the worldwide problem of violence, he said that an act of violence not only facilitates further violence, it also legitimizes violence. Economic exploitation, gender inequality and hunger were all forms of violence visited on children. The stark contrast between gloomy slums situated right next to shiny skyscrapers -- as could be seen in most of the major cities of the world today -- was a truthful and worrisome reflection of the state of the world today, he noted. Microfinance was a vital tool for youth to get started. Development was change for the better, and every effort must be expended to develop the world and make it fit for children, he said.
LORENC XHAFERRAJ (Albania), aligning himself with the statement of Portugal on behalf of the European Union, said that, by signing the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the Union last year, his country had committed itself to implementing Union standards in human rights, particularly children’s rights. By implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the other relevant treaties, it had already taken much legislative action to improve the situations of the nation’s children. In the area of violence against children, Albania had put into place a multidimensional policy, and had developed national instruments on trafficking, social services, and the Roma that related to children.
The Government’s attitude, however, was that rights issues could not be tackled by its policies alone, but required the extensive involvement of the society at large. For that reason, constructive cooperation with non-governmental organizations had been established. In addition, the Government fully cooperated with UNICEF and other specialized agencies on the issue, and numerous common projects had been completed or were ongoing. While Albania was, therefore, striving to provide the best protection for children at the national level in the shortest possible period of time, it was also fully committed to joining the international community in the urgent endeavour to promote and protect the rights of children worldwide.
OLHA KAVUN ( Ukraine) said that violence against children was a hidden and corrosive force that destroyed lives and their potential, and bred societies that could accept the unacceptable. A disturbing gap remained between the standards and the initiatives developed for the protection of children, on the one hand, and the atrocities that continued to be perpetrated against children, on the other, she noted. Ukraine was particularly concerned about children’s health in the context of the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster.
Ukraine was taking steps to eradicate the practice of trafficking in children, child prostitution and child pornography from the country. The main goal of trafficking in children was sexual exploitation, and the spread of sexual exploitation in Ukraine was being encouraged by economic factors. A family environment was the best defence against child trafficking, she said, and she thanked international organizations, as well as the United Nations, for their assistance in implementing Government efforts to deal with the issues facing children in her country today. She concluded by informing the Committee of the visit by the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Juan Miguel Petit, who assessed the situation of children’s rights in the country.
HAMID CHABAR ( Morocco) reiterated his country’s indignation at the scale of the plight that many children faced in the world. A coherent strategy to promote the rights of children, with civil society playing a direct role, was now in place in his country. A national plan of action for children had also been adopted by the Government in March 2006 that instituted new mechanisms to monitor the condition of children through the creation of child protection units and information-gathering.
To combat various forms of violence against children and the forced marriage of young girls, funds had been earmarked for groups addressing those problems, he said. Specific programmes had been spelled out to help child workers and those living on the streets, and to overcome illiteracy among rural girls. But, improving the lot of children could not be effective without parallel action to eliminate poverty, he added. In terms of legislation, the Family Code had been amended to better take into account the interests of children, and the Labour Code banned dangerous work for children under 18 years of age.
ADIYATWIDI ADIWOSO ASMADY ( Indonesia) said that life afforded no greater responsibility, and no greater privilege than raising the next generation. Children’s rights were part of human rights, and her country thought it was praiseworthy that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities had adopted the issue of children as one of its main thrusts. But her delegation was concerned that many of the challenges still remaining were rooted in persistent inequity and discrimination.
Rectifying the situation would require greater political will, she said, but even if the will were there, the financing might not be on hand. Her delegation was also concerned with the issue of child soldiers, and said the fact that small arms and light weapons had become more accessible for children called for greater corporate responsibility. She said Indonesia strongly believed the family had to continue to serve as the primary source for nurturing and caring for the child. On the tsunami, she said Indonesia intended to continue to rebuild the province of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam with the help of the international community. She reiterated that the issue of child soldiers was critical, and called for the General Assembly, as the most authoritative deliberative body of the United Nations, to take a more proactive role on the issue of children and armed conflict.
AMNA ALI ALMUHAIRY ( United Arab Emirates) said her country had taken the necessary measures to protect the interests of children and to prepare them for their future. It had also shown a keen interest in helping children worldwide, through the “Dubai Care” campaign, launched in September, which aimed to secure education for 1 million children in developing countries, with a special emphasis on Asia and Africa. At the local level, in April 2007, an agreement was signed to extend a programme on child jockeys in collaboration with UNICEF, which built upon earlier measures taken by the United Arab Emirates to combat human trafficking in compliance with a 2005 federal law on camel racing. That law prohibited the involvement of boys and girls under 18 in camel races.
The United Arab Emirates now had one of the world’s lowest child mortality rates, and one of the biggest centres in the Middle East for the treatment of autism, she said. Beyond its borders, her country was deeply concerned by the condition of children living amid poverty, conflict and foreign occupation; it urged the international community to take all necessary measures to protect those children and care for them, as stated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and humanitarian law.
SAUDATU USMAN BUNGUDU ( Nigeria) said that in spite of reports of improvement in the situation of children affected by armed conflict, her delegation was preoccupied with their situation in all the hotbeds of conflict. She called upon all the relevant agencies to focus on post-conflict rehabilitation, dialogue, reintegration programmes and other post-conflict challenges.
Gains from the debt relief granted to Nigeria were being channelled through the relevant ministries critical to the realization of the Millennium Development Goals that addressed children’s rights, she said. As adults, the international community had to muster both the political will and the resources to change children’s situation in the world today to one of security and opportunities.
DOMINIQUE BUFF, representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said his organization was seriously concerned by the situation of all children affected by armed conflict. Girls were particularly vulnerable to abuse; combatants forced them to cook and clean, and they might even be subjected to sexual abuse, abduction, forced marriage and pregnancy. The impact of war on children was closely linked to the impact of war on adults. Protecting all civilians in time of war, and keeping families together, was the key to helping all children, both boys and girls.
By preventing the recruitment of children and their participation in hostilities, children would be protected, he said. That aspect had been emphasized by the ICRC in its field work. Government forces, armed groups and civil society shared a responsibility for ensuring that children were not recruited in the first place. The ICRC very much hoped that more States would adhere to the Paris Principles regarding children, armed forces and armed groups.
The ICRC urged all States to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, and to enforce its provisions, he said. In time, international law should ban the recruitment of anyone under the age of 18. Although girls often represented about 40 per cent of child recruits, the ICRC had noticed that, at times of an official demobilization, there were relatively few girls to be seen. It was assumed that they had stayed behind, as they had become wives or fulfilled other domestic roles. Moreover, many girls did not want to pass through a demobilization programme, fearing stigmatization. The risk of girls being invisible should be a key consideration in any negotiations with parties to a conflict -- their plight must be given high priority.
* *** *For information media • not an official record