H.E. Dr. Elchin Efendiyev
Deputy Prime Minister, Personal Representative of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan

at the 27-th Special Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

New York 9 May 2002

Mr. President,

I am honored to represent a young independent state - Republic of Azerbaijan - a country the general strategy of which is aimed at creating conditions to fulfill opportunities for full-fledged development of all citizens, with primary support of vulnerable groups of population. And they, first of all, are children.

The child problem in its diversity is one of the top state priorities and the subject of special care of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr. Heydar Aliyev.

Evaluating the last decade as a period after the World Summit for children, I would like to mention a number of the national accomplishments.

First of all, it is accession to the important international documents concerning the child status and rights - Convention on the Rights of the Child and its 2 Optional Protocols, European Convention on the legal status of children born out of wedlock, the ILO Convention #138, Beijing Rules - the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice and others.

It is also the purposeful state policy aimed at strengthening gender parity in the society, equal access to education, diminishing epidemic diseases and poliomyelitis eradication, activity in the field of reproductive health and family planning, development of physical culture and sport.

It is relevant to mention that Azerbaijan has been the leading sponsor of Resolution on "Release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflicts" that has been adopted by the Commission on the Status of women at its last 8 sessions.

To this event - the Special Session of the General Assembly - Azerbaijan as other Member States has been preparing by conducting certain activities within the framework of the Global Movement for Children. Our country made its feasible financial contribution to the fund of this Session, took active part in the work of the Preparatory Committee.

Mr. President,

In order to evaluate outcome of our work, to make comparative assessments with results in other countries, as well as to effectively plan our activities, my country has joined the international monitoring system on the status of children.

However, the effectiveness of the work conducted in the country is descended as a result of difficulties entailed by the process of deep socio-economic transformations. The military aggression by Armenia and occupation of 20% of the territory of Azerbaijan resulted in emergence of a million
of refugees and IDPs - 250 thousands of them are children - caused tremendous financial and uncountable moral damage.

Thousands of children became orphans and disabled, hundreds were killed; tens were taken hostage or are still missing. Hundreds of schools, kindergartens, centers of child creativity, boarding schools for orphans, and medical and cultural institutions were completely destroyed. There are thousands square kilometers of the mined territory that, instead of life, now brings the death.

Efforts by the international community towards the settlement of the conflict in and around the Nagorny-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the liberation of the occupied Azerbaijani territories, in particular, towards the implementation of the Security Council resolutions 822, 853, 874, 884 adopted in 1993, unfortunately, still remain ineffective.

At present, hundreds of thousand of children who have experienced hard physical and psychological trauma are living in tent camps, railroad cars, dugouts and other temporary shelters for refugees and displaced persons.

Our delegation is certain that one of the main issues that demands increased attention of this Session is the problem of protection of children in armed conflict. We welcome and support activities of Mr. Olara Otunu, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. We invite him to visit Azerbaijan and familiarize himself with the situation on the ground.

Mr. President,

During the conflict, some 100 state-level documents aimed at the solution of the problems of refugees and IDPs have adopted in the Republic of Azerbaijan. They have been received tangible assistance from the international humanitarian organizations as well as certain foreign countries and private individuals.

In this connection, I would like to highly commend UNICEF activities in Azerbaijan and the valuable support of the' Fund's Executive Director Ms. Carol Bellami on the matters of operational assistance and the constructive cooperation for children. At the same time, I cannot help mentioning that the total volume of the humanitarian assistance to Azerbaijan by international organizations and donor-countries is being decreased. This seriously aggravates the terrible plight of refugees and IDPs.

We call upon the donor-countries, and international governmental and NGOs to continue rendering humanitarian aid to disabled children, orphans, children from the poor families, children 'who have become victims of the armed conflict.

Being in the situation of "neither war, nor peace" as a consequence of the unsolved armed conflict and experiencing all difficulties of the military aggression and occupation, the Republic of Azerbaijan is sincerely interested in the establishment of a comprehensive peace in the region. We took an active part in preparation of the final outcome document of the Special session - "A World Fit For Children" and support its fundamental provisions as a basis for further development of policies and strategies for the coming decade.

Mr. President,

I would like to assure you that the Republic of Azerbaijan is remained committed to follow further the path it has chosen and to maintain the course towards the creation and improvement of a world fit for children as a necessary condition for establishing a prosperous society of free and honorable citizens.