|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
14th & 15th Meetings (AM & PM)
Strengthening UN Efforts against Transnational Organized Crime among Issues
Addressed, as Third Committee Approves 5 Texts on Criminal Justice
Also Approves Decision Adding ‘Ending Female Genital Mutilation’ to Agenda;
Rapporteur on Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, Child Pornography Briefs
Taking action for the first time this session, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today approved five draft resolutions that aim to bolster the global struggle to fighttransnational organized crime and bring justice — including by strengthening international cooperation to curb drug trafficking and agreeing to better treatment for migrants and prisoners — as well as a draft decision on ending female genital mutilation.
By the text on strengthening the rule of law and the reform of criminal justice institutions — originally adopted by the Economic and Social Council and approved today without a vote, as were the other drafts — the Assembly would stress to Member States the importance of a well-functioning and humane criminal justice system as the basis for a successful strategy against transnational organized crime, corruption, terrorism and drug trafficking.
The other criminal justice texts adopted today by consensus addressed the follow-up to the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice; promoting efforts to eliminate violence against migrants, migrant workers and their families; access to legal aid in criminal justice systems; and minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners.
The draft decision, also approved by consensus, would have the Assembly take note of the Secretary-General’s report on ending female genital mutilation and decide to consider that issue at the current session under the agenda item on “Advancement of women”.
In other business, the Committee continued its discussion on the promotion and protection of the rights of children, beginning with the presentation of the report by the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Najat M’jid Maalla.
Noting the rights of children to express their opinions had been guaranteed in international instruments, she said child participation was her major recommendation to combat their exploitation. Despite a trend towards awareness raising, advocacy, follow-up and monitoring on child exploitation issues, major disparities still existed between child protection issues in different countries, she said.
Child protection still faced many impediments, including a lack of opportunity to express themselves as victims, lack of resources and few judicial procedures that guaranteed confidentiality and avoided re-victimization of children. To have lasting protection against their sale and exploitation, children needed to participate, be listened to and have their opinions taken into account. That would also enable them to have better ownership of information and protect themselves and their peers from exploitation and abuse, she said.
During the discussion on child rights, during which more than 40 speakers took the floor, the European Union representative called the new Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure that allowed for individual complaints an “indispensible tool” to complement the child protection system. “The EU believes that ensuring that children are being heard and have access to justice is of the utmost importance in order to improve the position of children,” he said.
A number of representatives outlined national and regional legislation and efforts which aimed to support children, the most vulnerable members of society, so they could achieve their potential.
However, many also expressed fears that national and international targets for child protection would not be met, and urged greater cooperation and development assistance. Mozambique’s representative said Southern African Development Community nations had seen an increase in child-headed households as a result of HIV/AIDS, and some were implementing programmes to ensure those households benefitted from social protections.
Most representatives emphasized the importance of improving education, particularly for girls, as the best way to allow children to develop to their fullest potential, as well as achieving stability and security. Egypt’s representative said his country was dedicated to ending child marriage and promoting girls’ education through an initiative to eradicate female literacy, especially in rural areas. Girl-friendly schools – known as “One Class Schools” - had helped girls complete their primary education and provided financial incentives to their families.
Many representatives said education was also the key to improving the rights of children of indigenous people, who were disproportionately affected by poverty and illiteracy, making up one third of the world’s 900 million rural people living in extreme poverty.
The representative of Norway said his country was concerned about the fact that indigenous children were particularly vulnerable to discrimination in education. Mother-tongue education had to be supported, as Norway had found it increased performance in all subjects at the primary level.
Also today, the Committee heard the introduction of four draft resolutions concerning social development, crime prevention and criminal justice, and international drug control, which were introduced by the delegates of Brazil, United Republic of Tanzania, Italy and Belarus.
Also speaking on the promotion and protection of children’s rights was the Minister of Plantation Industries and Special Envoy of the President on Human Rights of Sri Lanka, and the Director General, Multilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan.
The representatives of Egypt (on behalf of Arab States), Liechtenstein, Nicaragua, Thailand, China, United States, Brazil, Malaysia, Philippines, Venezuela, Russian Federation, Japan, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Senegal, Djibouti, Israel, Belarus, Uruguay, Kenya, Suriname, Malawi, Republic of Korea, Iraq, Ukraine, Syria, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Jordan, Chile and Sudan also spoke.
A representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine also addressed the Committee.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Israel, the Observer Mission of Palestine and Syria.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Friday, 19 October, to continue its discussion on the promotion and protection of children’s rights.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to continue its discussion on the protection and promotion of children’s rights. Press Release GA/SHC/4042 contains further details on children’s rights.
The Committee also was expected to take action on a number of draft resolutions, submitted by the Economic and Social Council, relating to the advancement of women, crime prevention and criminal justice. For more information on the advancement of women, please see Press Release GA/SHC/4040. Press Release GA/SHC/4038 contains further details on crime prevention and criminal justice.
Statement by Special Rapporteur on Sale of Children
NAJAT M’JID MAALLA, Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, presented her report to the Committee. She noted the rights of children to express their opinions had been guaranteed by the rights of the child convention and other agreements. Child participation was not only a key element to combating exploitation; it was also a major recommendation. To combat the sale and exploitation of children, many activities had been implemented by a number of countries, and they were progressively increasing with a trend towards awareness raising, advocacy, follow up and monitoring - and through initiatives led by children themselves
Despite those gains, major disparities still existed between measures in different countries and child protection still faced many impediments, including non-conformity of the participatory approach to international norms, a lack of spaces adapted to children to give them the freedom to express themselves as victims, a lack of resources, and a lack of skilled adults who were able to counsel children. Online, it should be recognized that men and women needed to be more aware of technology. Participation of children who were victims remained low, and there were few judicial procedures that guaranteed confidentiality and avoided re-victimization.
She said in order to overcome those obstacles and to have lasting protection against sale and exploitation, a rights-based approach was needed with child participation; one that listened to them and took their opinions into account. There was a need to institutionalize participatory mechanisms, with appropriate budgets and human resources. A number of other measures were needed to ensure the clear participation of children, including programmes to raise awareness; ensuring equity in terms of representation of children, particularly girls and vulnerable children; and systematizing the participation of children in all follow up efforts. Full participation of all actors at regional and national levels was also needed, in order to ensure children were protected from those crimes.
In conclusion, she said, child participation played a key role in establishing protection frameworks. Such participation would enable the achievement of lasting solutions, and would enable them to have better ownership of information and protect themselves and their peers from exploitation and abuse.
Question and Answer Session
When the floor was opened to questions and comments, the representative of the European Union welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s overview of child participation practices and guidelines. He asked which mechanisms could be developed to raise awareness about fighting the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
Morocco’s delegate said the issue required attention of both Governments and civil society. The Special Rapporteur had urged the creation of awareness raising mechanisms in schools and through the mass media. What caught his attention was that the Special Rapporteur had already mentioned those issues in the previous report. What national measures could be taken to engage all parts of society in establishing such a framework and how receptive were societies to such initiatives?
Costa Rica’s delegate asked for more information on participation, its elements and the foundation for such action in the Convention.
Responding, Ms. MAALLA said that, so far, a great deal had been done in terms of awareness campaigns. The scale of sexual exploitation was seen in the number of actors called upon to intervene. It was important that all resources be used, especially the internet and the mass media, which would create ongoing awareness. Exploitation was based on certain tolerances and social norms and it was important to work with communities to build more positive norms. Further, the problem was transnational in nature. It was impossible to wage an effective fight without international cooperation and she urged harmonizing legal frameworks, especially in fighting cyber crime.
As for State receptiveness to her efforts, she said many countries had created action plans, but there were coordination and resource difficulties. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and regional offices must be involved in helping carry out such work.
As for the participatory process, she said the report included principles to be adapted to that process. A child could only participate if he or she was well informed and consulted, and if his or her views were taken into account in designing programmes. It was also important to communicate to them the results of their contributions. Their participation must be informed and representative, efforts that required resources — especially well-trained human resources — to evaluate, re-evaluate or correct actions.
JOSEPH GODDARD (Barbados), on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the attempted assassination of Malala Yousufzai of Pakistan reminded all that there was a long way to go before the rights of the girl child were fully recognized and respected. CARICOM denounced the act, commended Malala for her courage and advocacy in support of the education of girls, and wished her a full recovery. Accelerated, coordinated actions were necessary to achieve desired improvements in the situation of children, he said. Significant progress had been made in the six priority areas of the region’s framework for action on children: early childhood care and development; child protection; HIV/AIDS; education; infant mortality; and maternal mortality.
Notable progress had been made in the region in child health, although CARICOM was deeply concerned at the rising levels of obesity among youth, which was a major public health challenge in the Caribbean and constituted nothing less than a threat to human and social development. A multi-sectoral approach to address childhood obesity within the larger context of non-communicable diseases was needed. The infliction of violence upon children was also being tackled as a matter of urgency. In July, at the regular meeting of the Heads of Government of CARICOM, they emphasised the need for “concerted action, at all levels, to address the increasing challenge of child abuse, particularly sexual abuse”, noting the need for a holistic approach that included parenting education, public sensitization and legislative reform.
CARICOM had also mandated studies to inform policies and interventions to address violence in school, and reaffirmed the commitment by its Members to implement the recommendation of the United Nations study on violence against children. The initial 3-year mandate of the Special Representative on violence against children was ending, and CARICOM had joined with other co-sponsors to extend it for a further period of three years, also recommending that the necessary support and resources were made available for the effective and independent performance of her mandate.
ANTÓNIO GUMENDE (Mozambique), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said Member States in his region had ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and formally acceded to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Among other measures, the region adopted the SADC Business Plan on Orphans, Vulnerable Children and Youth, for the 2009-2015 period, under which States aimed to consolidate the commitment to prevent and eliminate violence against children. As a result, access to primary education, health, sanitation and nutrition had significantly improved.
Despite such gains, “there are still enormous challenges to overcome”, he said, among them poverty, hunger, disease, sexual exploitation and human trafficking. The Second Decade of Education for Africa 2006-2015 aimed to ensure children’s safety in schools and universal access to comprehensive basic education. He supported the Special Representative’s findings on the need to establish a high-level coordinating mechanism, and to clarify the role of various departments dealing with violence against children. To that end, States had acceded to multilateral, regional and bilateral agreements to prevent, detect and investigate cases of sexual exploitation.
On other matters, he said SADC nations had seen an increase in child-headed households as a result of HIV/AIDS, and some were implementing programmes to ensure those households benefitted from social protections. The region’s multi-sectoral framework of action intensified measures to address the impact of the pandemic by mainstreaming HIV and AIDS into all areas of the regional development agenda and facilitating the use of regional, technical and institutional capacities, as well as those provided by its partners. As for trafficking, the SADC 10-year Strategic Action Plan laid out areas for cooperation to combat such abuse. In sum, he said full implementation of all legal instruments for promoting and protecting children’s rights required resources, and the region was working with its partners to that end. He agreed on the need for good data and research to enable better national planning.
OSAMA ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD ( Egypt) spoke on behalf of the Arab Group and said children’s rights had developed remarkably over the last decade in all Arab states. The Arab League’s interest in children’s issues had grown and it encouraged the development of national policies, programmes and mechanisms that were consistent with the principles laid out in the Convention. The League had endorsed the Marrakech Declaration, the outcome document of the Fourth High-level Arab Conference on the Rights of Children, hosted by Morocco in December 2010. That declaration was a common platform for actions by Arab States over the next five years to improve children’s situation throughout the Arab region. The Arab League would conduct a study on Arab media’s coverage of children’s rights, the first of its kind. It would look at the content of television channels and daily newspapers in six Arab countries: Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Tunisia, Lebanon and Egypt.
During three regional conferences for the Middle East and North Africa on violence against children, and with the release of the Arabic language version of the Secretary-General’s report on violence against children, the Arab countries reaffirmed their commitment to the elimination of all forms of violence against children. The Arab Group stressed the importance of respect for religions, which should not be used to justify violence against children, he said. The Group condemned the attack on Malala Yousufzai, the schoolgirl who defended girls’ education. The Group stressed that education was the real investment in children, with no distinction between males and females, and underlined the importance of giving girls equal access to education.
The Arab Group called for developing a special framework to protect Arab children living under Israeli occupation in Palestine, the Syrian Golan and northern parts of Ghajar, Chebaa Farms and Kfarchouba Hills in Lebanon, he said. It called for defending their rights guaranteed under international law and called for the right of Palestinian children living within the independent state of Palestine to enjoy all fundamental rights and freedoms. It urged the international community to push for the release of Arab child prisoners detained illegally by the Israeli occupation.
IOANNIS VRAILAS, of the Delegation of the European Union, said the promotion, protection and respect for the rights of the child remained high on the Union’s agenda, and was explicitly required under its Treaty. The EU Agenda for the Rights of the Child, adopted last year, aimed to step up efforts in all relevant policies and actions, while the Union would also continue to prioritise funding for children in humanitarian crisis.
The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, as well as the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict had immensely contributed to achieving higher levels of child protection; but universal ratification remained an important goal to achieve. In 2012, the Union launched a campaign to promote the ratification of those instruments, as well as International Labour Organization Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour. The communications procedure that allowed for individual complaints was an indispensible tool to complement the child protection system. “The EU believes that ensuring that children are being heard and have access to justice is of utmost importance in order to improve the position of children,” he said.
The Union also welcomed attention by the Security Council to address the issue of children in armed conflict, and supported ongoing efforts to deal with the unacceptable issue of impunity and persistent perpetrators. More must be done to combat impunity. Regrettably, violence — such as forced marriage, child labour, bullying at school, female genital mutilation and child prostitution — was also still a frequent dimension of children’s lives. For child victims of trafficking, cooperation between countries and international organisations was key under the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012-2016. Making the justice system more child-friendly in Europe was also a key action under its agenda adopted last year, and a major study was under way to collect data on children’s involvement in judicial proceedings.
NATHALIE HOFFMANN ( Liechtenstein) fully endorsed the Convention and supported the Committee on the Rights of the Child to ensure its full implementation. Her country would engage constructively in the search for a sustainable resourcing solution that would allow the Committee to consider all State parties’ reports in a timely manner. Urgent measures must be adopted in the current session to allow the Committee to function properly. The Secretary-General’s report on implementing the rights of indigenous children showed that those children were disproportionately affected by poverty and illiteracy, making up one-third of the world’s 900 million rural people living in extreme poverty. She strongly called for full inclusion of their perspective in the post-2015 development agenda. Also, access to education was the key to empowering rural populations and Liechtenstein supported development projects to educate rural women and children.
“We must ensure the participation of indigenous children in decisions that have an impact on their lives”, she said, noting the imperative of ensuring birth registration for indigenous children as a first step to realizing their human rights. A lack of such registration could hinder their overall protection by the State. Further, collective efforts were needed to ban harmful traditional practices – female infanticide, child and forced marriage and female genital mutilation among them - by law, and through raising awareness and human rights education. Concerned at the number of persistent perpetrators listed in the annex of the Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict, she urged the Security Council to expand the mandates of sanctions committees and consider allowing the Working Group to directly apply targeted measures. To strengthen the United Nations’ child protection agenda, Liechtenstein had partnered with the “Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict”, a mobile application providing policy makers with documents vital for negotiating new peacekeeping mission mandates.
AMIRA FAHMY ( Egypt) said: “Education is not a luxury, but a fundamental right that must be realized for all.” It was the foundation for every society and Egypt fully supported the Secretary-General’s “Education First” initiative to expand access and improve the quality of learning. Egyptian efforts were also fully dedicated to ending child marriage and promoting girls’ education through an initiative to eradicate female literacy, especially in rural areas. Girl-friendly schools – known as “One Class Schools” - had helped girls complete their primary education and provided financial incentives to their families. Egypt strongly condemned the targeting of Malala Yousufzai.
More broadly, she said violence against children - including corporal punishment, trafficking and female genital mutilation - was prohibited under Egyptian law. Egypt attached special importance to the draft resolution on intensifying global efforts for eliminating female genital mutilation, submitted by the African Group. Strategies to end that practice required integrated legislative, health and educational awareness efforts, and the involvement of all stakeholders, especially men and boys. Egypt also strongly condemned any practice targeting children in armed conflict, either as combatants or as exploited victims of those conflicts. She was deeply concerned by attacks on schools or military use of schools by Israeli security forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as well as attacks by Israeli settlers on schools. She urged greater attention to children living under Israeli occupation.
JUANA SANDOVAL ( Nicaragua) said children were protagonists of the transformations around them. Nicaragua’s national development programme made children and adolescents a priority for the country, since almost half the population was under the age of 18. Nicaragua was taking steps to improve health, education, the environment, sports, human dignity and freedom under a number of initiatives. The country’s “Amor” Programme had successfully registered children without birth certificates, while children of migrants, child prisoners and other vulnerable children were taken into account, in 425,000 house-by-house visits by representatives.
Nicaragua had also enrolled parents in technical courses and parent’s schools, and created youngest child initiatives. It had been bringing to families the good news that another form of bringing up children was available: with love and respect. Nicaragua was reordering its entire social system with health and well-being, while its “Amor” Programme next year would reach 900,000 families throughout the country. In Nicaragua, a better future and better world were possible, and it would continue to work to produce changes for its children.
PRATANA UDOMMONGKOLKUL ( Thailand) said it was important for all States, including middle-income States, to reach the Millennium Development Goals on healthcare and education. Basic healthcare was a human right. While Thailand had achieved all Goals related to children, it was still working to ensure that no child was left behind by striving to implement universal healthcare services, including pre- and post-natal care and nutrition services. Early childhood intervention had been a focus and malaria incidence had fallen in recent years. She commended UNICEF for placing nutrition providers in more than 50 countries. As regards education, she said Thailand was working to implement a 15-year “free education for all” programme. Outreach had focused on rural children through the use of information and communications technologies.
She went on to say that multilingual schools also had been set up in areas with ethnic and migrant children. Children with disabilities were supported with special education centres in every province. To tackle violence against children, Thailand’s efforts sought to strengthen the competence of law enforcement officials. In 2010, Thailand had amended its Juvenile and Family Code and a juvenile now must be brought to court within 24 hours. In terms of collaboration with the United Nations, Thailand had presented its combined third and fourth report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, as well as its initial reports on the two Optional Protocols: on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and on the involvement of children in armed conflict, both of which Thailand had become party to in 2006. In September, Thailand became the first country to become party to the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure.
MAN ANTING ( China) said steady progress had been made in promotion and protection of the rights of the child. However, the world community should not lose sight of the fact that children continued to be affected by poverty, disease, conflicts and other problems. Children’s healthy development depended on joint international efforts. She called on all Governments to safeguard world peace, so that children worldwide would be spared the scourge of turmoil, and also called on them to honour development commitments and share experience to create an enabling environment for the better development of children around the globe.
China, for many years, had a policy of children first, and now had in place a comprehensive legal system to protect their rights. The Chinese Government attached great importance to international human rights instruments promoting and protecting the rights of the child, and had fulfilled its treaty obligations in good faith. In 2010, China had submitted its combined reports, and looked forward to a constructive dialogue with the Committee on the Rights of the Child. China would continue to shoulder its international responsibilities and work with others for the full and timely achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, aiming at a world fit for children.
KELLY L. RAZZOUK ( United States) said: “All children around the world deserve to grow up in an environment where their human rights are respected.” While gains had been made, children still needed protection from violence, abuse and exploitation. She condemned the shooting of Malala Yousufzai, who had been brutally shot by extremist thugs who believed girls did not have a right to education. Girls also needed protection from child marriage, and equal access to education was one part of the solution. Elevating girls’ status was critical to achieving stability and security. An estimated 10 million girls married each year before the age of 18, threatening their health and education. The United States was concerned by the Special Rapporteur’s findings in Iran, documenting marriages of girls under the age of 9 years old. It was committed to preventing early or enforced marriage and would intensify efforts, including by promoting girls’ education.
She said that a week ago, the United States Secretary of State celebrated International Day of the Girl Child by announcing new programmes with the private sector to promote education. Welcoming the Secretary-General’s report on indigenous children, she said the United States was home to over 2 million Native Americans and was committed to working with tribes, individuals and communities to address indigenous challenges, including preservation of children’s cultural heritage. She agreed that reducing violence against children was crucial to economic development and the United States would continue to invest in vulnerable children. In closing, she drew attention to the tragic situation of innocent children in Syria, who had been victims of killing, arbitrary arrest, and torture, including sexual violence and use as human shields. The international community must better support humanitarian assistance and the political transition in Syria.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) highlighted the importance of achieving economic stability and social equity, while enhancing the protection, survival and development of children to their full potential. In Brazil, children and adolescents were an “absolute priority”. Earlier this year, Brazil had signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, allowing children to submit complaints about violations of their rights under the Convention. She fully supported universal ratification of the Optional Protocols and encouraged States that had not done so to ratify those crucial instruments. In 2012, Brazil had passed laws to implement a national system for socio-educational assistance, a breakthrough, since judicial administration was among the greatest challenges in protecting children’s rights.
Calling that programme a model for judicial administration, she said it incorporated human rights concerns and provided for formulation of policies aimed at guaranteeing the rights of children and adolescents who had infringed the law. Other challenges included work to combat extreme poverty, child labour and all forms of violence and sexual exploitation. The Bolsa Família cash transfer programme aimed to reach 2 million extremely poor families with children up to six years of age. It also would raise the number of day care centres, strengthen national health care coverage and provide asthma medicine. Such programmes had been successful in fighting child labour by allowing families to maintain their income and send their children to school instead of work. Cooperation with neighbouring countries had been critical in tackling the transnational problem of sexual violence and exploitation.
MEGA NOPIJA KHALIDI ( Malaysia) said, recognising that investment in education and training was a prerequisite for the prosperity of the country and well-being of the people, education and training development had consistently been given the biggest allocation in her country’s national budget since independence in 1957. Her delegation concurred with the view that protection of children from violence contributed to social progress and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals; as the international community moved to the post-2015 development agenda, it was critical to address and safeguard the children’s right to freedom from violence.
For its part, her Government had established shelter homes for abused, abandoned and orphaned children, which provided services such as diagnosis, rehabilitation, treatment and special education. Many problems faced by children in developing countries were closely related to under-development, poverty and conflict. Those could not be solved unless the underlying development issues were seriously addressed, and the concerned countries were provided the needed resources and assistance. She was also pleased to inform the Committee that Malaysia was presenting the candidature of Ms. Yasmeen Muhamad Shariff to the Committee on the Rights of the Child – the first time Malaysia had proposed a candidate to that Committee.
ANA MARIE L. HERNANDO ( Philippines) said, as the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals approached, her country was intensifying efforts to promote the rights of children and address their concerns in public and private spheres based on a rights-based, collaborative and systematic approach that involved all stakeholders. In addition to recently passed laws, 11 per cent of the Government’s budget was allotted to child welfare initiatives such as the Department of Health’s Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and Nutrition Programme; implementation of a programme against child labour; and the “Pantawid Pamilya” conditional cash transfer programme for poor households to keep children in school.
The involvement of children in armed conflict was of utmost importance to the Philippines, and required a concerted, coherent and coordinated response by all stakeholders. She welcomed the appointment of the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, and looked forward to a more meaningful interaction and a genuinely objective, transparent and deeper engagement by her with stakeholders to move relevant processes forward and identify possible solutions to standing issues. Engaging non-State armed groups, including for the purpose of securing the protection of children, should be approached in a most careful manner. “Since the situation of children occurs against a complex background, any strategy to protect children in this case should be in harmony with the larger peace processes in the country,” she said.
MAHINDA SAMARASINGHE, Minister of Plantation Industries and Special Envoy of the President on Human Rights of Sri Lanka, said his country was a State Party to the Convention and its two Optional Protocols, as well as to International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions 138 and 182, dealing with child labour. The Government took its international obligations as seriously as it did its domestic responsibilities. Discussing gains, he cited the rehabilitation and reintegration of children following the humanitarian operation against terrorists who had held nearly 300,000 people captive. Of 12,000 ex-combatants, 10,895 – including 594 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) child soldiers – had been rehabilitated and reintegrated into society. Not a single child combatant remained in rehabilitative care or legal custody.
The Government adhered to a policy of not subjecting ex-combatant children to legal proceedings, on the premise they had been victims, not perpetrators. All child soldiers released had been given an opportunity for education. Sri Lanka had been delisted from Annex II of Security Council resolution 1612 (2005) on children and armed conflict. Moreover, 212 former combatants, who had previously pursued tertiary education, had been re-inducted to the university system. Displaced families had been filing tracing requests and reporting missing children to national authorities. In 2009, a family tracing and reunification unit was established for unaccompanied and separated children, with UNICEF support. Sri Lanka was updating its legal and regulatory framework to better protect children, with the penal code now criminalizing the worst forms of child labour, including debt bondage and serfdom. As for trafficking, a unit for the prosecution of child traffickers had been set up and a new national project enhanced the criminal justice response to child abuse. Resources were provided by the Government and UNICEF.
JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO ( Venezuela) said that representatives of “savage capitalism” pretended that the poorest, the most vulnerable and the middle class were the ones that must pay for a crisis that they had caused. Thus, poverty and inequality expanded in the world, affecting millions of people, both in developed and developing countries. “The crisis of capitalism affects, with particular drama, the rights of children in the world,” he said. “It is necessary and urgent to reverse this situation, as the future of the human species is at stake.”
Social investment in Venezuela had become a key strategy in achieving sovereign and integral development, and the Millennium Development Goals, he continued. The country had reduced by half the percentage of poor households, from 43.9 per cent in 1998 to 26.7 per cent in 2011. Meanwhile, extreme poverty had fallen from 25 per cent of the population in 2003 to 7 per cent in 2011. To enable mothers to provide breastfeeding to their sons and daughters, the new Labour Act had extended paid maternity leave to the longest on the American continent — six and a half months of prenatal and 20 weeks of post-natal leave.
Mr. RAKOVSKIY ( Russian Federation) said there was a long way to go to create “a world fit for children”. Respect for international dialogue was necessary and his Government would strengthen cooperation in that regard. Caring for children’s physical, moral and intellectual health had been integrated into social policies. The Government had increased support for families with multiple children and a special focus had been placed on poor families and children without parents. Children received contradictory information from television and the internet and it was time to protect them from dangerous content, including violence. Amendments to federal law had entered into force on 1 September 2012 to protect children from information causing harm to their development.
He said the Russian Federation also had abided by its international obligations. As party to the Convention and its Optional Protocol on Children and Armed Conflict, it submitted timely reports to be considered by the Committee in 2013. On 26 September, the President and Minister for Foreign Affairs signed the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. That was the first step in his country’s full participation in the treaty. The Government also had signed the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse. Turning to the problem of Russian-Finnish children, he voiced concern at seizures by Finnish child guardianship services, saying such actions negatively impacted children’s development and undermined the Convention, notably its preamble, which outlined that the family should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance, so it could fully assume its responsibilities in the community.
ESTHER ADEYEMI ( Nigeria) said her country had about 75 million children, out of which 17.5 million were orphans and some had disabilities. To addresses that, the Government had established the Child Development Department to mandate projects in the areas of health, education, legal and social services that would ensure the survival, growth and wholesome development of Nigerian children. Nigeria was also focusing more attention on advancement of the girl child through education and abolishment of all forms of discriminatory cultural practices that infringed on her right to equality, she said.
The establishment of the Children’s Parliament at national and state levels had also given Nigerian children freedom to exercise their civic responsibilities and contribute directly to policy formulation and implementation. Trafficking of children also remained a major concern to her Government, and the country would continue to do its utmost to prevent cross border and internal trafficking, through law enforcement and policies aimed at prevention and protection of victims. She concluded by calling for a sustained commitment to the implementation of the various instruments on the rights of children. “Only concerted international effort, involving all relevant stakeholders, will be capable of meeting the needs of our children, especially the vulnerable ones,” she said.
YAEKO SUMI ( Japan) said the Convention was part of the legal architecture to protect children, while the Millennium Development Goals set time-bound targets to improve children’s lives. Whether those mechanisms succeeded was up to the international community. “Many children are still forced into a life which is far from what is ideal,” she said, urging enhanced efforts. Japan had strengthened measures on the prevention and elimination of trafficking in persons, in line with the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. In 2009, it developed a revised action plan to combat that abuse.
To eliminate child pornography, she said Japan was working with the private sector to thwart circulation and access to that material on the internet and to strengthen existing regulations. The rights of girls and children with disabilities were not fully respected, due to complex cultural, social or economic reasons. Efforts at a number of levels were needed, including by families, local communities and society as a whole. At the local level, Japan supported home visits to each household with an infant, in order to secure a sound environment.
Ms. THOMAS ( Cuba) said there were many challenges standing in the way to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and everyone had a responsibility to make a world where children did not die of starvation or malnutrition, and could go to school. Cuba had begun implementing policies for children in 1959, getting a 30‑year head start. It allowed the country to eradicate the injustices of colonial and neo-colonial regimes, reducing those problems to a bad memory. Thanks to the Cuban Government, today, protection and promotion of the rights of children, free education and health care were priorities.
Cuba had 100 per cent coverage of the educational needs of children, including those with special needs, she said. Cuba had also amply surpassed the targets of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Goals 3 and 4 of the Millennium Development Goals, despite the blockade by the United States for over half a century. Last year, the damage to public health due to the blockade had amounted to $10 million; Cuban hospitals were having great difficulty acquiring material. The greatest violence against children was denying them the right to a healthy future. As long as policies were pursued that ignored the need for international solidarity, total protection of the rights of the child would not be achieved.
JALAWI AL SAUD ( Saudi Arabia) outlined Government efforts to protect children’s rights, citing the creation of the National Committee for Children in 1979, which coordinated the national strategy for children, as well as the provision of free education. The Government also had established cultural centres, sport clubs and libraries for children to develop their skills. Regulations dictated that parents were responsible for the welfare for their children, protecting them from physical and mental harm, as well as their dignity, in accordance with Islamic law. Rehabilitation centres had been set up to assist children with disabilities and those suffering from chronic disease.
As for violence against children, he said regulations criminalized that abuse, providing mechanisms to protect them from physical, sexual and psychological violence. In October 2009, a national electronic register was set up - with coordination between the Government and non-governmental agencies - to monitor, and ultimately resolve, abuse and neglect cases. Children’s hospitals were required to document cases of child abuse and follow up with authorities. At the international level, Saudi Arabia had ratified the Convention and its two Optional Protocols in 1996. It also had ratified the Convention on the Rights of Children in Islam, which was approved by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Finally, he drew attention to the suffering of Palestinian children by Israeli occupation forces, urging that the rights of all children in the Middle East be safeguarded through implementation of all relevant international conventions
HASSAN EL MKHANTAR ( Morocco) said humanitarian crises had grave consequences for children. Citing some gains, he said States’ awareness had been seen in the creation of new international instruments. The Third Optional Protocol establishing a communications procedure had strengthened the legal arsenal to combat child abuse. For its part, Morocco organized in 2010 the Fourth Arab Congress on the Rights of the Child, which culminated with the Marrakech Declaration. Legal instruments had subsequently been modified, including the criminal procedure code, a law protecting abandoned children and the labour code.
He went on to say that the “Morocco Worthy of Children” action plan had 10 objectives, and called for follow-up by the national observatory for the rights of the child. In education, the annual literacy strategy aimed to help 1 million children and stop school drop-outs by 2015. Also, the age for school access had been lowered and efforts had been made to improve access for disabled children into the national educational system. To protect migrant workers and their families, a 1993 convention said all migrant children had a right to education. As regards violence against children, he said reception centres had been created so victims could have access to justice and medical care. To eradicate such abuse, a legal framework supported by firm political will was needed.
TINE MØRCH SMITH ( Norway) said her country was concerned about the well-documented fact that indigenous children throughout the world suffered from exclusion and discrimination, which led to curtailment or loss of their basic rights, such as access to education and health services. “It is distressing to read in the report that indigenous children continue to be overrepresented among the poor, the illiterate and the unemployed, not least due to these obstacles,” she said, adding that the rights of the Sámi people in Norway to maintain and develop their language, culture and way of life had been protected under the Constitution since 1988. “We believe that constitutional recognition is an important step towards guaranteeing inclusion and promoting the rights of indigenous people.”
Education was crucial to indigenous children and indigenous peoples as a whole, and Norway was concerned about the fact that indigenous children were particularly vulnerable to discrimination in education. Mother-tongue education had to be appreciated, as Norway had found it increased performance in all subjects at the primary level. Norway also believed it was of fundamental importance that children be included in decision-making processes, since they had the right to be heard in all decisions that affected them, as well as the right of freedom of association and peaceful assembly. Participation empowered children and young people, encouraging them to become active citizens. “The rights of the child to participate is, therefore, important, not only for the individual child, but also for the society as a whole, at local, national and international levels,” she said.
Introduction of Draft Texts
Introducing the draft resolution on Mainstreaming of volunteering for the next decade (document A/C.3/67/L.8), Brazil’s delegate, speaking also on behalf of Japan, said volunteers made a difference. Brazil had witnessed the effects of volunteers as it hosted the Rio+20 Conference this year while, more seriously, Japan had hundreds of thousands of volunteers assist in its earthquake recovery efforts. There was mounting evidence volunteerism helped social cohesion, and she expressed hope the resolution would further encourage volunteerism and engage all population sectors.
Introducing the draft resolution on realizing the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities towards 2015 and beyond (document A/C.3/67/L.10), the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania, also on behalf of the Philippines, stressed that persons with disabilities were still invisible the implementation and monitoring of the Goals. There was continued lack of data on persons with disabilities, causing obstacles to planning and implementation of development programmes. The resolution called for better monitoring of disabilities for the Millennium Development Goals, and it was her hope that the Committee would adopt the resolution by consensus.
When the Committee resumed consideration of crime prevention and criminal justice, Italy’s representative introduced the draft resolution on Strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity (document A/C.3/67/L.15), saying that few issues on the United Nations agenda were as global as the fight against transnational organized crime, which impacted all States without discrimination. It affected stability, growth and development. “Crime and violence are a development issue,” he stressed. Such crime operated as a global business and curbing its financial power would weaken its raison d’être. He urged attacking illegal assets accumulated by illegal networks around the world.
He said the text aimed to build consensus on the fight against transnational organized crime in United Nations policies. It would grant more visibility to the issue on the United Nations agenda. It also aimed to promote implementation of all pertinent United Nations instruments, especially the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its additional Protocols. Also, the draft contained updates to language adopted last year. Delegations had tried to keep the text streamlined. The updates focused on recent decisions taken by the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, as well as upcoming events related to the international crime prevention programme, namely preparations for the Thirteenth Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. Language updates were found in, among others, preambular paragraph 10, on strengthening international cooperation to prevent wildlife trafficking; and preambular paragraph 20, encouraging Member States to consider the links between crime and development, especially in the context of preparations for the post-2015 development agenda.
Finally, the representative of Belarus introduced the draft resolution on Improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons (document A/C.3/67/L.16), saying that the text aimed to improve coordination on that problem among States, international organizations, the private sector and civil society. It also aimed to enhance awareness on preventing that shameful business from flourishing. Trafficking in persons was a pressing issue on the international agenda.
Moreover, it was the third most profitable in the world, she said, with one million people sold annually from one country to another, not including internally trafficked persons. Some 80 per cent of trafficking victims were women and girls, and of those, half were minors. Most trafficking victims were women used for sexual exploitation purposes. One important step was the Assembly’s 2010 adoption of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. In 2013, the Assembly would assess its implementation and it was necessary to hold a high-level meeting to exchange views. She hoped the text would be adopted by consensus.
Action on Texts
The Committee then turned to six draft texts forwarded by the Economic and Social Council. By the first decision, on Ending female genital mutilation (document A/C.3/67/L.2), the General Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General’s report on ending female genital mutilation and decide to consider that issue at its sixty-seventh session under the agenda item on “Advancement of women”.
The Committee approved that draft decision without a vote.
As regards crime prevention and criminal justice, the Committee had before it a draft resolution on Follow-up to the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and preparations for the Thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (document A/C.3/67/L.3), by which the Assembly would decide that the Thirteenth Congress should not exceed eight days, including pre-Congress consultations. It would also decide that its main theme should be “Integrating crime prevention and criminal justice into the wider United Nations agenda to address social and economic challenges and to promote the rule of law at the national and international levels, and public participation”.
By other terms, the Assembly would decide that the Thirteenth Congress should include a high-level segment and adopt a single declaration, to be submitted to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice for consideration. It also would approve the agenda for the Thirteenth Congress and request the Secretary-General to prepare a discussion guide for regional preparatory meetings.
Prior to action, the Programme Secretary said the adoption of the draft resolution would not entail any additional appropriation under the programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013.
The Committee then approved that draft decision without a vote.
The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on Promoting efforts to eliminate violence against migrants, migrant workers and their families (document A/C.3/67/L.4), which would have the Assembly strongly condemn the incidence of criminal acts against migrants, migrant workers and their families in all regions, including criminal acts of violence motivated by racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Among other things, the Assembly would urge States to adopt measures to prevent and effectively address violence against migrants and ensure victims received humane treatment. It would strongly condemn continuing criminal acts against migrants, migrant workers and their families in all regions of the world.
Speaking before action, the representative of El Salvador said promotion and protection of migrants, migrant workers and their families was a key part of his country’s foreign policy. It believed the draft was positive in the protection of rights of migrants, but did not include important elements, which he would like to highlight for the record.
In operative paragraph 15, the document did not mention at any point further protection of the rights of migrant workers, while in operative paragraph 17, the document could have recognized more clearly the role of civil society organizations in protection of migrants. He reminded the Committee that paragraph 157 of the Rio+20 Declaration called for sustained efforts for migrants. However, El Salvador, in the spirit of consensus, would join with others in adopting the resolution.
The Committee then approved that draft text without a vote.
The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on Strengthening the rule of law and the reform of criminal justice institutions, particularly in the areas related to the United Nations system-wide approach to fighting transnational organized crime and drug trafficking (document A/C.3/67/L.5), which would have the Assembly stress the importance of a well-functioning and humane criminal justice system as the basis for a successful strategy against transnational organized crime, corruption, terrorism, drug trafficking and other forms of drug trafficking.
The Committee then approved that draft text without a vote.
Next, the Committee turned to a draft resolution on United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems (document A/C.3/67/L.6), which would have the Assembly adopt the Principles and Guidelines annexed to the present text as a useful framework to guide States on the principles on which a legal aid system in criminal justice should be based. States would be invited to strengthen measures to ensure effective legal aid is provided, in line with the Principles and Guidelines, bearing in mind the diversity of criminal justice systems among different countries and regions.
By other terms, States would be encouraged to consider the provision of legal aid and to provide such aid to the maximum extent possible. For its part, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime would be requested to make the Principles and Guidelines widely available. The Secretary-General would be requested to report to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice at its twenty-third session.
Prior to action, a secretariat representative said with regard to request in operative paragraph 6, $262,300 in extra-budgetary resources would be required to provide the requested technical assistance. With regard to the request in operative paragraph 7, $492,000 in extra-budgetary resources would be required. The adoption of the draft text would not entail any additional appropriation under the programme budget for the 2012-2013 biennium.
The Committee then approved that text without a vote.
Finally, the Committee turned its attention to the draft resolution on Standard Minimum Rules of the Treatment of Prisoners (document A/C.3/67/L.7), which would have the Assembly recognize that some areas of the Standard Minimum Rules could be reviewed so they reflected the latest advances in correctional science and good practices, provided that any changes not lower any existing standards. The Assembly also would be cognizant of recommendations of the Expert Group, noting that the Expert Group had identified preliminary areas for possible consideration, including, among others: respect for prisoners’ inherent dignity, medical and health services, and disciplinary action, including the role of medical staff, solitary confinement and diet.
By other terms, the Assembly would authorize the Expert Group to continue its work, with a view to reporting progress to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice at its twenty-second session. It also would recommend that States work to reduce overcrowding in pretrial detention, and promote increased access to justice and legal defence mechanisms, reinforcing alternatives to imprisonment, which could include fines and electronic monitoring. The Secretary-General would be requested to continue promoting the use of United Nations standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice. States and other donors would be invited to provide extra-budgetary resources.
Prior to action, a secretariat representative said an additional $466,900 in extra-budgetary resources would be required for the continuation of work by the open-ended intergovernmental Expert Group on the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. Some $657,700 in extra-budgetary resources would be required for assessment missions to assist countries upon their request. Adoption of the draft resolution would not entail any additional appropriation under the programme budget for the 2012-2013 biennium.
The Committee then approved that text without a vote.
Statements – Children’s Rights
REDOUANE YAHIAOUI( Algeria) said African children were the worst affected by malnutrition, illiteracy and armed conflict. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) initiative could provide a framework for steps to eradicate socioeconomic causes of challenges faced by children. International support was urgent, as indicators showed that, without support to health and education, malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS would persist, and schoolrooms would be out of reach for millions of children.
Algeria was a State party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, its two protocols and ILO Convention No. 182, he said. Algeria had submitted its third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child this year. A national family strategy had been adopted, as had a plan to combat violence against children, in cooperation with UNICEF. Other achievements included amendments to a national code that recognized the transmission of nationality through the mother. Algeria was combating all forms of trafficking in children, and criminalized any exploitation of children in prostitution networks. In terms of education, mandatory free schooling for children up to age 16 was a priority.
ABDOU SALAM DIALLO ( Senegal) said the near universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child showed the aspirations of the international community. The Government of Senegal had signed the Protocol of the Convention, to establish a communications procedure that was more informed and to strengthen the rights of children. The unflagging efforts of the international community could harmonize standards and allow the rights of children to blossom. However, the pernicious effects of the economic crisis on rights of children had delivered a serious blow to social programmes.
“We should deplore the recruitment of children by armed groups,” he said. They were often drawn into conflicts because their families were threatened by warring factions, or they faced a tyranny of basic needs, like food. While it was not the only cause, poverty remained the primary means through which recruitment of children in military operations came about. It was important to step up the fight against the effects of poverty. Senegal, while doubling its efforts on food security for all, was also integrating care on child illnesses. Its national programme, called “Every Children’s Hut”, had been praised as a universal model for education, health care and food for children up to the age of 6.
KADRA AHMED HASSAN ( Djibouti) said her country had acceded to all regional and international instruments related to children’s protection. Djibouti had also presented its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child and its policies took into account the Committee’s recommendations. Djibouti attached high importance to the development and protection of children, having formulated policies and actions plans to achieve economic growth and poverty reduction. The Government had initiated studies on various topics, such as poverty and disparity of children, the impact of the family code, evaluation of a pilot programme on orphans and vulnerable children, a follow-up study on female genital mutilation and an impact study on literacy.
She agreed on the link between poverty and violence against children, pointing out that her region suffered from chronic drought, which adversely impacted access to food, health care and primary education. Given that poverty affected half the population, 75 per cent of Malawi children suffered from malnutrition in 2011. More awareness was needed about enrolling children in school. Keeping children in school was a problem, especially for girls. Female genital mutilation was widespread and she welcomed efforts by UNICEF and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to eliminate the practice. Djibouti was also working to combat that practice and protect victims. Djibouti would pursue implementation of the law even in the most remote areas of the countries. The Government had also created a national policy to mainstream girls into school.
MICHAEL FREEMAN ( Israel) said his country understood education was a cornerstone for the healthy development of children, and planned to implement a landmark law this fall that would provide free compulsory education for children from the ages of 3 to 18. Since its inception, Israel had sought to fulfil its obligations to children with a broad range of legislation and Government programmes. Its vibrant civil society also played a leading role in protecting and empowering children, and Israel also greatly appreciated United Nations agencies and leaders who were working to improve life for children.
Israel was always very active in negotiations on child-related resolutions. Last year, it co-sponsored the resolutions on the Rights of the Child, the Girl Child and the International Day of the Girl Child. In 2013, Israel for the first time would join the Executive Board of UNICEF, while in November it would host a programme in cooperation with the Organization of American States focusing on strategies to keep children and youth from dropping out of school. Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation had also trained hundreds of thousands of educators and children from all over the world, and facilitated a medical training programme in Ghana that had demonstrated success in diminishing infant mortality, and maternal morbidity.
Ms. VELICHKO ( Belarus) said her country had achieved the Millennium Development Goal target on primary education and the country’s infant and child mortality rates were among the lowest in the region. On Millennium Development Goal 5 (maternal mortality), Belarus would achieve a two-thirds reduction on time. Further, the country ranked 27th on the list of countries making great reductions in maternal mortality. It had submitted a report on the implementation of internationally agreed goals on education.
She went on to point out that adult literacy in Belarus was at 99.8 per cent, making it among the top 10 countries in the world. A presidential decree had been issued to protect poor children, which aimed to protect them if their parents were unable to do so. More broadly, Belarus had cooperated with UNICEF on 10 technical assistance projects. For example, Belarus was an active participant in the “Child Friendly Cities” initiative and she called for expanding the thematic scope of such UNICEF projects.
GABRIELA ORTIGOSA ( Uruguay) said the promotion and protection of the rights of children had long been a priority for her country, and she called for full implementation of the Convention and its Optional Protocols, including the Third Protocol. Children were the most vulnerable members of society, and their concerns should be kept in mind in policies that affected them. The recognition of the rights of children should influence different areas of States’ activities, and the Government had been working hard, bearing in mind the recommendations of the Committee on the rights of children.
This year, in negotiating the resolution on the rights of children, Uruguay would be working to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on violence against children. Another concern of Uruguay was the “childization” of poverty; in the recent economic crisis, 60 per cent of those under the age of 18 fell under the poverty line. Recent efforts had reduced child poverty by 10 per cent, but much more needed to be done. Exploitation of children was the abuse of power by adults over children, often accelerated by poverty, homelessness, child labour and dropping out of school. That required teamwork between the State and civil society to find solutions. Violence and abuse continued in homes, schools, penitentiaries and workplaces, but could be prevented. The promotion of the rights of indigenous children, on an equal footing, was also a priority matter than deserved an immediate response.
JOSEPHINE OJIAMBO ( Kenya) said that the drought and famine in the Horn of Africa from 2011 to 2012 had made malnutrition and hunger grave threats to children’s health and were major contributors to child mortality. Joint international efforts had thwarted a “human catastrophe” there. The lessons learned should now inform the international community’s response in the Sahel region. Also, under-five child mortality was still unacceptably high. Resources were needed to prevent the loss of advances made against HIV/AIDS and malaria. The health of both mother and child must be addressed to reduce chances of children dying from preventable causes. In addressing the post-2015 development agenda, very clear targets must be set for children.
She urged the international community to support the two resolutions on ending obstetric fistula and eliminating female genital mutilation, to ensure that children and youth would not be haunted by those problems. Educating children promoted constructive life choices, with measurable outcomes, she went on. Further, poverty must be addressed comprehensively and an enhanced focus was needed on governance and implementing strategies to extend basic utilities, strengthen safety nets and build other infrastructure for the rural and urban poor. On the convention, ratification of the protocols must go hand in hand with implementation. Expressing support for renewal of the Mandate of the Office of the Special Representative on violence against children, she said that that Office did not have adequate resources. “We have to find resources to support the work,” she said.
ZAHEER A. JANJUA, Director General, Multilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, said serious challenges persisted in advancing children’s rights. Children all over the world faced neglect, abuse and exploitation. Their misery was especially acute in situations of armed conflict, foreign occupation and humanitarian emergencies. More must be done to promote their rights on all fronts. For its part, Pakistan was State party to all ILO core conventions. It had made progress on the Millennium Development Goal related to infant mortality. Comprehensive efforts also had been made to eliminate child labour. Priorities in the national action plan on children included political commitment, capacity building and awareness-raising.
He went on to say the Government also had carried out projects for children’s welfare, including the creation of protection and rehabilitation centres for child labourers, working and street children and juvenile convicts. Further, social protections for children with disabilities had been introduced, as had formal and non-formal education, pre-vocational training and skill development programmes. Moreover, a children’s complaint desk had been established in the offices of federal and provincial ombudsmen. A child protection management information system also had been established, in collaboration with UNICEF.
Ms. REDMAN ( Suriname) said her Government was aware that children were the future of humanity, and had dedicated its policy towards revision, formulation and implementation of policies and programmes for children. Children should be nurtured and cared for by parents and legal guardians, and Suriname therefore condemned violence against children in the strongest terms, particularly sexual abuse. It had set up a Bureau of Victim Care which, in cooperation with the Foundation for the Child, sheltered and counselled child victims of sexual abuse. The recent budget also provided after-school programmes for some 85,000 children, with meals, recreation, regular medical check-ups and assistance with homework.
Quality education was important to prepare children for the tasks ahead as productive citizens, and Suriname’s policies gave specific attention to, among other measures, innovation and improving the availability of qualified and motivated teachers. The minimal school fee for children in primary education was also recently abolished. The health of children was also critical for Suriname, which had created specific measures to educate children on healthy lifestyles, as well as the importance of sports. As long as children were deprived of basic education and health care, as long as children were living in poverty and continued to suffer from violence and abuse by those who were supposed to protect them, “we still have a long way to go,” she said.
ESTHER MCHEKA-CHILENJE NKHOMA ( Malawi) said the Convention was the first international treaty to outline the full range of children’s civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, a treaty which Malawi had ratified in 1991. Malawi was working with SADC in implementing a 10-year plan to combat trafficking in persons, especially women and children. Such efforts had enabled Malawi to stay on course to achieve Millennium Development Goal 4 (child health). Services included early childhood development and social protection for families that lacked income. Cash transfers were available for child-headed households.
Other measures aimed to prevent and mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS, immunize newborns and foster children’s access to justice, she said. To ensure sustainable protection of children’s rights, she urged cooperation at all levels among Governments, development partners, donors, the private sector, civil society, community leaders, traditional leaders and children and adolescents. One example of such collaboration was the “Every Woman, Every Child” movement, which Malawi had embraced from its inception. Malawi had also benefited from its partnership with UNICEF, which had introduced mobile phones for the transmission of real-time nutrition and health data.
KIM CHAN ( Republic of Korea) said his country was particularly concerned about a growing number of children exposed to sexual exploitation and violence, an urgent issue that all Governments should address in a prompt manner. The Republic of Korea had taken various measures to protect children from sexual violence, including this year’s amendment which toughened punishment against perpetrators and abolished the statute of limitations for exploitation against women with disabilities or girls under 13 years old. Second, he said, the right to receive equal education should be further expanded to the most vulnerable and marginalized children, such as refugees, those with disabilities and children under armed conflict, and his country had expanded efforts in that area.
Next, Republic of Korea youth delegate LEE SANG MIN said he firmly believed that all the delegates gathered today already knew and understood the difficult circumstances faced by many children, and that now solid action must be taken to solve those problems. He was pleased his Government had been making great efforts to make society safer for children. It was equally important to help children develop their capacity and become mature citizens by providing them with various opportunities to participate in social activities. The National Children’s Congress held annually in Korea provided them the opportunity to discuss issues of their own interests. As a youth delegate in society, he also pledged to give support for children in need.
YASSIN DAHAM ( Iraq) said the dictatorship in his country had had a negative impact on children’s rights, especially in education and health. Children had suffered from poverty, famine and lack of health care. After 2003, Iraq adopted measures to improve children’s lives. Today, the Government was working legislatively and in executive branches to address those problems. A report submitted to the Committee on the Rights of the Child focused on Iraq’s commitment to children.
Detailing other progress, he said children’s ability to access school had increased and the quality of their education had improved. Also, children were not conscripted. A law to combat human trafficking had been adopted, children’s television programming had increased, and there were now more opportunities for Iraqis to pass on their nationality to their children. Despite facing many challenges, Iraq had completed its first report on the Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict. In closing, he called for international assistance to help ensure children’s welfare.
It had been ten years since entry into force of the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, said Mr. KVAS (Ukraine), noting that much remained to be done to protect children’s rights. His Government focused on the most affected and vulnerable groups of children — victims of sexual exploitation, sexual abuse and trafficking, violence and discrimination. In that regard, he highly valued the activities of the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict and supported the call for extension of the mandate of the Special Representative on Violence against Children.
To promote children’s rights, he said his country had implemented a National Action Plan on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child until 2016. With the support of UNICEF, relevant authorities had developed health, nutrition, education and protection programmes. Also alongside UNICEF, his government had started a new programme this year focused on advocacy and social policy and HIV/AIDS, among others. In addition, it expected to make substantial progress in addressing such issues as homelessness and neglect of children.
MONIA ALSALEH ( Syria) reaffirmed her country’s commitment to the conventions it had ratified, stressing her Government would pursue dialogue with the Committee to meet guarantees outlined in the Convention. Syria was party to eight conventions, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols. Premeditated aggression and hostility was increasing from armed terrorist groups supported by foreign entities inside her country, with documented cases of pillaging and school destruction. A school in the suburbs of Damascus recently was bombed by armed groups during its first few days. Also, those groups were involving children under 18 years old in their activities. The Government and the Minister for Health had pursued national plans to consolidate children’s health. Vaccines for children had been provided through private institutions throughout the country.
But Syria’s efforts to safeguard children’s rights were being impeded, due to the economy’s destruction. Children were the first affected by illegal measures in all sectors, especially the health sector. An embargo on the national bank made the provision of medicine to children difficult. Further, the human rights situation in the Occupied Golan was dangerous, due to repressive Israeli practices that did not guarantee the rights enshrined in the Convention. Bombs and mines planted by the Israeli entity had killed 227 children since October. They were condemnable infringements. She agreed with the United States delegate that children were being used as human shields, but that delegate did not note that terrorist armed groups, supported by States, including her own, were responsible.
AMIRA DALI ( Tunisia) said the best interests of the child were a major commitment and priority for her Government and all its State bodies. It paid particular attention to children with disabilities, who received protection, health care and integration attention, so they could be empowered and participate in social life. Given that a strong family was a guarantee for a quiet and peaceful childhood, her Government was guiding families with education and providing resources, so young people could continue to develop in a healthy environment.
Thanks to the Tunisian Revolution, young people were now more engaged in policies and opening up freedom of expression, he said. Tunisia was determined to place its trust in young people, offering them greater horizons and prospects for decision making. On the international level, young, clandestine migrants were most exposed to violations and required more protection from the international community. A concerted strategy by all stakeholders was needed to end that scourge. Concluding, she reiterated her country’s commitment to further cooperation to better the lives of children.
YOUSEF N. ZEIDAN, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine, called on the international community to uphold its legal responsibilities to respect the laws of armed conflict, as outlined in the 1949 Geneva Conventions, to ensure protection for Palestinians, especially children, from crimes perpetrated by Israel and “settler terrorists” it illegally transferred into the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. Palestinian children were victims of Israel’s illegal policies, including attacks by its military forces and settlers, who routinely assaulted them and their families.
Since 2000, over 6,000 Palestinian children had been forcibly arrested and detained by Israel, he said, often on dubious charges. Many children were in “administrative detention” without charge. He called for their immediate release. Palestinian children in Gaza endured the trauma of Israel’s illegal blockade. They woke up with night terrors at the sound of Israeli warplanes firing on their neighbourhoods. Schools destroyed during the 2008-2009 aggression remained in rubble, as rebuilding efforts had been intentionally impeded for over three years. The situation was critical and he renewed his appeal that the international community uphold its legal, political and moral responsibilities, and take immediate action to bring Israel into compliance with international law.
FRANÇOISE BEREMWOUDOUGOU ( Burkina Faso) said studies had shown that violence against children was a cross-cutting issue that should be given special attention. Given that 46 per cent of her country’s population were children under the age of 15, the Government had made protecting and promoting children’s right a priority. In addition, Burkina Faso’s legal environment was conducive to protecting children and it had adopted an act aimed at combating trafficking in persons, which targeted child exploitation.
Further, the Government had adopted policies on outlawing corporal punishment, on eradicating female genital mutilation and on preventing child marriage, she said. Burkina Faso was also committed to promoting and protecting the rights of the child through the implementation on the Convention of the Rights of the Child and other relevant instruments. But more needed to be done, she said, and her country would make all necessary efforts to improve conditions for children in the future.
MOHAMMAD ALI AL NSOUR ( Jordan) said his country’s national framework, including reporting, intervention, follow up and evaluation, aimed at putting an end to the problem of child labour. Working with UNICEF, Jordan had helped to create a database for development, education, health and labour to provide the necessary information needed to get support in those areas. Jordanian legislation had, among other things, recognized a child’s right to life, paying close attention to education. There was also a licensing system in place for establishments that provided care to children.
Challenges existed, he said, saying the increase of child refugees as a result of the Syrian situation had posed difficulties for schools. The burden on schools would continue to grow, he said, noting that the current population of 18,000 student refugees was expected to double during the winter months.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ ( Chile) said his country’s public projects aimed to protect children’s rights in all areas of life. The strategy had aimed at preventing violations of their rights, he said, and included the “Chile Grows With You” programme. Yet, challenges remained regarding education, he said, notably among vulnerable groups and children in rural areas. National efforts also aimed to prevent the violation of human rights, including in the area of child labour, homeless children and indigenous children, with the latter including fighting discrimination and conducting research projects.
For its part, Chile was party to instruments that addressed children’s rights and had welcomed the mandate granted to the recently-appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children in Armed Conflict, which focused on eliminating the recruitment of children. “Children are the futures of our countries and they are our most precious resource,” he said, and their rights should be supported and protected.
MOHAMED ELBAHI ( Sudan) said the economic crisis had hampered the renaissance of poor countries. Without treating the imbalance in developing and least developed countries through training and technology transfer, a better world for children would be inaccessible. For its part, Sudan’s national laws encouraged development. Sudan had ratified the Convention and its two Optional Protocols, and had translated those instruments into the national law on children (2010). Children’s machinery also was underway. Child protection units had been set up to avoid children’s recruitment into military entities. All such efforts had been undertaken by the Government and United Nations, especially UNICEF. Data showed that child mortality had decreased.
Further, the National Council on Child Care and UNICEF had published a joint report on Sudan in 2011, he said, which acknowledged developments in the promotion of children’s rights. But rebels in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile continued to recruit children into their military operations. The relevant military authorities had elaborated an action plan to end such recruitment. Developments in Sudan would help children in those areas, he said, citing the independent Human Rights Commission, the special court on crimes in Darfur, the Doha peace agreement and the tripartite initiative adopted on the humanitarian situation in Blue Nile and South Kordofan. He also cited an agreement with Chad, the Central African Republic and Libya to monitor borders and prevent activities that harmed Sudanese.
Right of Reply
Exercising his right of reply, Israel’s delegate responded to accusations against his country. It would be more beneficial for the region if Israel’s neighbours invested in the education, health and welfare of their own children. It was astounding that the Palestinian representative did not mention the indoctrination of hatred being carried out. “Palestinian children are being taught to hate.” he said, citing magazines encouraging children to become suicide bombers. Hamas had reiterated its opposition to teaching about the Holocaust in schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
He said incitement had led to tens of thousands of rockets fired into Israeli populations, schools, hospitals and houses. Over 40 of them had been fired in the last week alone. The Palestinian Authority should worry about advancing the conditions of Palestinian children. He also had listened to the baseless lies by Syria’s delegate, who attempted to divert attention from the crimes of her own Government. If Syria had any interest in children, it should start by ceasing to massacre its own.
The representative of the Observer Mission of Palestine said United Nations reports and the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice had presented facts. The occupying power was not interested in children, but rather, in prolonging its occupation. Many children were malnourished in the Gaza Strip. Schools and children were often used as human shields by occupying forces. The “neighbourhood policy” sent children into dangerous situations to check out a situation before the military forces went into that area. “The facts speak for themselves,” he said.
Exercising her right of reply, the representative of Syria said that Israel’s representative had made “audacious” statements. Instead of taking pride in Israel’s innovative educational programmes, the representative should have spoken about, among other things, the “racist” wall in the Golan or the two Syrian children killed by a landmine earlier this month while they were playing in a field in Golan. She said that detention, massacres, pogroms and other numerous terrorist activities the “occupying power” had committed were other topics that could and should have been raised.
* *** *For information media • not an official record