1 July 2010

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Society Judged by Treatment of Its Weakest, Most Vulnerable Members,


Secretary-General Says at Child Protection Centre in Libreville


Following are Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at a visit to a child protection centre in Libreville, Gabon, today, 1 July:

It is a great pleasure to be here today.  Thank you for this opportunity to see your important and very moving work with children.

I understand that there are several more projects like this for children in Libreville and in Port Gentil.  They show the results that can be achieved through partnership between the State, civil society, private businesses, religious institutions and the United Nations — in this case, through UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund].

The difference you make to each child’s life is incalculable.  You are giving them a true second chance.  But more than this:  these centres are raising awareness that children, too, have human rights that must be protected.

UNICEF’s work with the police, under the concept “Police, friends of children”, (French:  “Police amie des enfants”) is just one example of how this message is being spread.

These centres also add to the pressure for justice.  Each child here has been trafficked or otherwise abused in some way.  The people responsible must be found, prosecuted and convicted.  The era of impunity for crimes against children is over.

I strongly encourage the Government of Gabon to step up its efforts to eliminate the trafficking and abuse of children.  Everyone — Government, business, civil society, the police — must play their part in creating and implementing laws to protect children.

A society is judged by its treatment of its weakest and most vulnerable members.

What I have seen here today is a sign of great hope for the future.  The future of these children, but also of Gabon, and the strong partnerships we have built for children.  I thank you all for your hard work and commitment.

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For information media • not an official record