H.E. Mr. Hor Namhong
On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC), I wish to take this opportunity to extend my sincere appreciation to the United Nations for hosting this Special Session on Children, after the postponement of this meeting last year due to the tragic terrorist attacks against this bright and proud metropolitan city.
Our gathering here, at the United Nations, to discuss and share our concerns on the profound challenges facing children in the world is very much relevant and important to all of us.
As a personal representative of the Prime Minister of Cambodia, I am pleased to be here, among many distinguished delegates, who, I am sure, share the same aspirations and goals for a better future of our children. I wish to congratulate the United Nations for actively promoting the rights of children for expanding the opportunities for the children. The United Nations, therefore, deserves our respect, recognition and support.
We all know that today the lives of children are negatively affected by the current state of poverty in many parts of the world and the lack of access to everything, from health to education, from food to personal security. Poverty is further aggravated by the negative effects of globalization in developing countries. By and large, poverty leads to child. labor and lack of education for children. Globalization, also, has exacerbated those issues involved with children, such as child prostitution, child pornography, and other forms of child exploitation. We cannot, and should not, underestimate the challenges and the problems confronting the children in poor countries today.
I now wish to share with you what Cambodia has done with respect to the protection and promotion of the rights of our children. Despite the challenges Cambodia has been confronting with for many years now, the Royal Government of Cambodia has been strongly committed to the protection of the rights of children and the promotion of their livelihoods.
As part of its commitment to children, Cambodia ratified a number of conventions, in particular, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention N° 138, and the twin Optional Protocols concerning the Children in Armed Conflict and the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
In terms of concrete actions, the Cambodian National Council for Children (CNCC) was established as a national mechanism for coordination, participation, consultation and monitoring the implementation of the Rights of Children. The CNCC has been expanded and strengthened its network throughout the country. Moreover, in March 2000, a national Five Year Plan against Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children was adopted and has been implemented ever since by the government, in partnership with other important actors such as international organizations, NGOs, and civil societies.
Many efforts for the well-being of the Cambodian children have been made, in particular, in the most needy rural areas, including health care, education, nutrition, and safe water supply. Polio was successfully eradicated since 1997. Regarding the HIV/AIDS prevention, the Five Year Common Strategy (2001-2005) was developed and has since been implemented, and the awareness campaign has been realized with some concrete behavioral changes.
Furthermore, the "Say Yes Campaign" was launched by Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen on April 26 last year. The three key priorities of this campaign are: "Educate Every Child," "Leave No Child Out," and "Fight HIV/AIDS" for children. This campaign has mobilized public support and strengthened cooperation throughout the country at all levels. I must emphasize that the "Say Yes Campaign" has been an important strategy for advancing the interests of the children in our society.
However, in spite of our drastic efforts, Cambodia continues to face many difficulties and challenges due to the lack of resources and poverty in remote areas, such as lack of schools and insufficient number of teachers. At the same time, Cambodia has confronted with the worldwide network of child trafficking as in many parts of the world, and the government remains strongly committed to fight in cooperation with the international and regional organizations.
I would also like to bring to your attention that within the Association
of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), we have paid close attention to the
rights and development of children in our region. The recent discussions
at the 4th Meeting of ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Social Welfare held
in August 2001, m Singapore, strongly underlined the real challenges facing
our children at the regional
Therefore, in the framework of the ASEAN, Cambodia has consistently committed itself to the rights and protection of children through the 1993 "ASEAN Plan of Action on Children". This Plan has called, among other things, the need for creating opportunities for children to express their views, advocate their rights and concerns; the need for ensuring the ASEAN child a better future by assuring basic healthcare and promoting access to education; the need for protecting children from HlV/AIDS and drug abuse and all forms of violence, abuse, trafficking and exploitation.
I wish to emphasize, in this occasion, that not only the resolution of this Special Session of the United Nations on Children be adopted, but more importantly concrete actions be delivered in developing countries, in particular the least developing countries (LDC's), in order to help children to have more access to school and health, as well as to end once and for all child trafficking. If there is no concrete actions, the current situation of the children in the world not only remains the same, but it will continue to further deteriorate.
Finally, as far as Cambodia is concerned, we are strongly committed to join the United Nations, the international community and other international organizations in collective actions and shared responsibility to promote the well-being of the children worldwide, especially in making "A World Fit for Children" and a better world for tomorrow's generations.
What we need is deeds and not words.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.