BRUNEI DARUSSALAM
 

Statement

by

The Honorable Pehin Dato Haji Hussain
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports

at
The United Nations Gereneral Assembly
Special Session (UNGASS) On Children

New York
9th May 2002





Mr. President,
Excellencies,
Distinguished Delegates
Ladies and Gentlemen.

On behalf of my delegation I  bring greetings from The Government of His Majesty The Sultan and the Yang Di Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam to you Mr. President and to all those responsible in organizing this very special session. I take this opportunity to congratulate the President and office of the Bureau for their election on this special session as a follow up of the 1990 World Summit For Children.

During this Special Session, we will focus our attention to 3 basic issues:
   -The best possible start in life for all children.
   -A good-quality basic education for all children.
   -The opportunities for all children, especially adolescents, for meaningful participation in their communities.

Let us pray and hope that those issues will be fulfilled and let the global movement for children be a part of our lives as we
endeavor to provide lives with quality for our children.

Mr. President,

At the World Summit For Children in 1990 specific issues were addressed and to be reviewed by governments as stipulated in The Plan of Action for implementing the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children in the 1990s.  The issues are:
   -The Convention on the Rights of the Child Child health
   -Food and nutrition
   -Role of women, maternal health and family planning Role of the family
   -Basic education and literacy
   -Children in especially difficult circumstances Protection of children during armed conflicts Children and the environment
   -Alleviation of poverty and revitalization of economic growth

The session today will provide us with the opportunity to review our achievements. However, we should be more alert to critical areas pertaining to our respective countries and that all opportunities should be explored by UN Funding Agencies to provide aid to the countries concerned.

Mr. President,

The participation of children is another important factor in this special session and Brunei Darussalam brought with us to children to participate in the Children Forum.

Mr. President

In May 2000, the 5th Ministerial Consultation on Shaping The Future For Children was held in Beijing and at that meeting a Declaration on The future of Children was formulated. The declaration was indeed timely as all governments made a commitment to bring a better future for children in their respective countries. At that meeting too the participation of children was given special attention where on the first day of the meeting children were given the opportunity to speak and voice their opinions. Not only the voices of children are being heard, but policies, and legislation started to be reflected in some countries' law and policies to reflect the rights of the child.

Mr. President,

The commitment for children is not only reflected in individual countries with regard to laws .and policies but a more significant step was made within the Asean region. The 'Declaration on The Commitments For Children in ASEAN' was signed during the 4th Meeting of Ministers Responsible For Social Welfare held in Singapore on 1-3 August 2001. This declaration will be the guiding principles for Asean member countries in enhancing the protection, development and survival for children in the Asean region. This particular declaration is the first document fully dedicated to ASEAN children in this Millennium. However Asean's commitment to children goes a long way before this declaration was mooted whereby back in 1993, Asean Ministers Responsible For Social Welfare have signed the Asean Plan of Action On Children.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Poverty is a monumental problem, we should be careful that in restructuring the entire welfare system we need to look at a more holistic approach and consider other areas such as education, good parenting skills and sound mental health. Alleviating poverty in the lives of millions of children would be a monumental step to improving the quality of life for all our children.

We must fight to eradicate child poverty. We must fight because no child should come into this world only to find all the doors already closed. We must fight because only by investing in children can we break the cycle of poverty and only then there will be real hope for the future of our children.

Recognizing that neglect is primarily a problem of poverty, a structural solution would be needed to restore the welfare system with regard to children. To this end an economic safety net that would include universal child development programmes should be part and parcel of the whole welfare system. However we should give credit to UNICEF in particular, as well as to other U.N. agencies as there are many programmes that have been developed to aid children at risk because of poverty, abuse and neglect.

Mr. President,

This special session is an important follow up to the 1990 World Summit on Children and to review the progress made for children. In this respect allow me to share with you and distinguished delegates efforts made in Brunei Darussalam with regard to the welfare, survival and protection of children.

Brunei Darussalam acceded to the Convention on The Rights of the Child (CRC) on 23th December 1995. Even prior to acceding the CRC, Brunei Darussalam had started drafting laws to enhance the position of children in wide ranging areas. After acceding to the CRC Brunei Darussalam has passed the Children Order 2000 to further protect the welfare of children particularly the abused and neglected children. This order also provides that the best interest of the child shall always be the paramount consideration when any question arises with respect to the welfare of the child. In addition, the Islamic Family Law was passed in 1999, which makes provisions regulating laws relating to Muslim families. This particular legislation also includes matters pertaining to maintenance and guardianship or custody of children.

The Islamic Adoption of Children and Adoption of Children Orders 2001, which both came into force on 26th March 2001, make provision to regulate adoption of Muslim children in Brunei Darussalam.

With regard to strengthening mechanisms for coordinating policies relating to children, the National Children's Council was established and officially launched on 18 January 2001 by Her Royal Highness Pengiran Isted Hajah Madam. It is also tasked to monitor rules and regulations pertaining to children. The Council consists of members from the Government sector, the private sector as well as NGOs.

Mr. President,

The Social Affairs Services Unit of the Ministry of Culture Youth and Sports is the responsible agency, which looks after the welfare and development of children in Brunei Darussalam. This unit also acts as the focal point for children related matters.

Brunei Darussalam works closely with UNICEF with regard to the CRC in particular and matters relating to children in general. In fact several seminars and workshops including a regional consultative meeting was held jointly with UNICEF in Brunei Darussalam in 1996. Likewise a number of senior officials from Brunei Darussalam have attended courses, seminars and workshops organized by UNICEF abroad. The cooperation with UNICEF and other regional and international organizations have proven beneficial to our country.

Mr. President,
Our tremendous achievements have been made not only in the legal aspect but also in the field of health and education.

In the health sector, with increasing public awareness on health issues, and the privilege of good and sound socioeconomic status, Brunei Darussalam continues to enjoy and progress towards good health status Health care is free for all children in the country.

The trend in Infant Mortality rate has steadily declined to 5.9 per 1000 live births in 1999. This included babies born as prematurely as 24 weeks gestation. Childhood mortality rate has also significantly declined and has remained low at 0.4 per 1000 of 1-4 year age group in 1999. The infant as well as under 5 mortality rates indicates enormous improvement over the last 20 years. These are comparable to those of other advanced nations. Continuous efforts are being made to sustain this good status of health among the children.

Childhood immunization rate is above 95% and Brunei Darussalam is free from all major and minor communicable diseases. 99% of the population has access to clean safe and fluorinated water.

With regard to children with special needs, priorities are given to this group of children. Not only in the prevention of disabilities by optimal pre natal and post natal care but any of these children with identified specific learning or with physical disability are provided with appropriate rehabilitation and therapies to suit their specific needs in order to optimize their function and potential.

The National Advisory and Coordinating Committee for Children with special needs is a multidisciplinary committee focusing on children with special needs. The NGOs and the private sector are actively involved in the social activities of these children as well.
Mr. President,
The role of the education sector has also shown tremendous improvements and developments over the years and comparable to the success seen in the health sector. The declaration of inclusive education in 1997, allows all children with special needs to be included in the normal school system. The provision of education have been and always will be one of the main national agenda of the Government of Brunei Darussalam.

Schooling is available to all. Education is free to all citizens. Literacy rate is above 90 %. Amongst the aims of the national education system is to provide 12 years of education to every child. The school curriculum provided caters for all children according to levels, ability and needs, including children with special needs.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Brunei has gone a long way in addressing issues and concerns relating to children. Although as mentioned earlier many positive developments have been achieved, there are still many areas, which need to be addressed. As an example in the field of child health care, there is still much work to be done. Emphasis must be made on prevention, as good prevention of childhood conditions will prevent chronic diseases in later life. To this end a B$60 million budget has been passed to build a mother and child hospital in the near future.

Brunei is indeed fortunate not to be concerned with issues like child labor, street children, children in armed conflict and trafficking of children among others. Nonetheless, relevant agencies are available to address such issues.

Mr. President,

As mentioned earlier Brunei has already started to work on its laws and policies on children even before we acceded to the CRC. However in the course of implementing the convention, including the drafting of our report on the CRC, we have found the Convention to be most useful and it has allowed us to be Introspective of our own laws and policies regarding children. I believe it has given us a great impetus to be more focused in addressing matters of grave concern on our children in Brunei Darussalam especially in enhancing and strengthening our work on protection of abused and neglected children. I am sure Mr. President that we are not alone informing this view of what the convention has meant to us.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Children are the adults of tomorrow and it is the duty of the adults of today to take a firm stand and firm action in providing the best of the lives of children today and the future.

I would like to conclude my statement by once again to express my sincere thanks to you Mr. President and office of the Bureau for the success in organizing this special session. It is indeed a pleasure to share some of our experiences in addressing to matters pertaining to children with you today.

'SAY YES TO CHILDREN'

Thank you.