Mr. Secretary General,
The sad events, which took place in New York on September 11, last forced this summit to be postponed. The memory of the victims of that tragedy and the desire to overcome and combat those acts strengthen our resolve to fight against intolerance and fanaticism. Education is one of the key elements in the training of people. Living together with respect for others in a just, democratic and egalitarian society must be one of the essential pillars in the education of our young people.
We are pleased with the content of this special session because we are firmly convinced that, if we wish to obtain a fairer world for all, actions aimed at our younger citizens have a capital importance and must occupy a distinguished place in the work of this organization which makes so many efforts to improve the living conditions of inhabitants around the world.
In the first place I would like to congratulate Ms Bellamy and UNICEF for the great effort of co-ordination which they have made throughout the preparations and for the enormous task they are carrying out for children. I would also like to congratulate the Jamaican ambassador Ms Durrant who spared no effort throughout the negotiation process in her capacity as head of the preparatory committee. However, we are also conscious of the enormous amount of work done by all concerned in preparing this meeting and we thank all of them for their dedication.
What is the meaning of this special session? Why have we come to New York for these three days from all the quarters of the world to take part in a series of meetings, round tables, presentations and other activities related to the future of children?
I believe the reply is very clear: we all know that a society, in which boys and girls do not receive the basic services linked to their rights as citizens, is a society with its future in jeopardy. This is why I wish to believe that all of us, who are sitting here today in this hall and will be taking part in other meetings during these days, have as our basic aim the development of policies for children. This is a matter which deserves clear, precise action, where the space for speech making should be limited to this hall - afterwards we must go on to specific action, particularly in the areas of education and health.
Andorra has shown to be most sensitive to actions in these two spheres since we are a country with a high percentage of young population - nine thousand school children in an educational system which offers parents a free choice between different systems and where schooling is compulsory up to the age of 16. 92% of these nine thousand school children have said yes to the world movement. Andorra is also a country where health care for children is attended to with a whole series of primary services which enable personalized quality attention to be given.
Today's children are tomorrow's adults but they are today's young people and as such must play an active part in our daily lives. In our country the local councils and various associations, together with the government, are promoting joint participatory policies which will be reflected in the National Youth Council.
This is why we clearly advocate the strengthening of all educational
policies for all children, but we would like our voice to be heard in favor
of specific action for girls since we firmly believe that their access
to education from the very beginning of their lives helps them to become
citizens who are aware of their rights and duties. In the composition of
my government, 33% of the ministers are women, a clear example of women's
participation. So I would like to point out my country's undertaking to
seek out in what practical ways it can co-operate in projects aimed at
improving the education of girls, especially in those regions
At the level of education, we would also like to show our interest in all projects which seek to facilitate the entry of young people into the world of work. We know the difficulties inherent in this and re-affirm our wish to co-operate in activating international protects which may open up new ways of thinking and acting.
We are also in solidarity with actions decided upon in the health sphere
and hope that the targets given in the declaration for carrying them out
will be respected, particularly in the reduction of infant mortality, which
is a stigma, we still bear in this world which has just entered the 21st
Now I wish to touch on the cruelest situation in which children may find themselves, the situation which justifies beyond any shadow of doubt our participation in international meetings: exploitation.
Nothing can justify the abuse of children, whether this entails the participation of children in armed conflicts, their exploitation in work or their trafficking and sexual exploitation. We all know that this happens and I believe that we all have some responsibility to take on board. That is why the fact of our being here today must be used to send the world a clear message of condemnation of all these activities. No more kid soldiers, no more young people exploited in work, no more boy and girl prostitutes.
We are aware of the difficulties inherent in avoiding these situations but, as a citizen and head of government of a country where care for children is one of the corner stones of its social development, I believe that my voice has to be used to demand decisive action to put an end to these situations. It is my firm belief that the success of this meeting may be evaluated from the policies which governments will draw up in the coming months in accordance with the closing declaration.
If we are here today, it is to re-affirm our undertaking to the convention on the rights of the child with its two optional protocols and, above all, to add our voice to the international proclamation in favor of children and young people in our world.
It has always been said that today's boys and girls are tomorrow's men and women. This is why, if we want a better future for our children, we must work tirelessly as of now and in all the sectors which make up our society.
This is without doubt the thrust of our meeting and we trust that the results will confirm it.