Mme. Wu Yi Head of the Chinese
on the occasion of the Special Session of the General Assembly on Children
8 May 2002
As the United Nations holds its special session on children, the world is once again focusing its attention on the environment for survival and growth of children in the world. It is of major and far-reaching significance for leaders of all countries to gather together and discuss the development of children around the world, reiterate their commitments to the next generation and work out measures for future action. Here, I wish to extend, on behalf of the Chinese Government, heartfelt congratulations to the successful convocation of the conference and express appreciation of the fruitful work of Mr. President and all members of the presidium. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Secretary-General Mr. Annan for his report to this special session entitled Our Children.
Twelve years ago, it was also here that the historic World Summit for Children was held. The World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children in the 1990s and the Plan of Action formulated at the summit clearly identified the direction for all countries in the implementation of their development strategies for children. In the past decade, the governments, people and the international community have made tremendous efforts toward the goal set by that summit, especially in such areas as poverty alleviation, child health, nutrition, education and public health. A positive change has taken place in the survival, protection and development of children, and the achievements are remarkable.
It was my privilege to preside over the East Asia and Pacific Regional
Ministerial Consultation on Children held successfully in Beijing last
year. The meeting produced encouraging results. It passed the Being Declaration,
made commitments to children and determined to continue its efforts for
enhanced international cooperation, consolidate the achievements already
attained and respond to future challenges so as to bring the cause of children
forward to a completely new stage.
While rejoicing at our achievements, we should not fail to see the fact that the global objectives set at the World Summit for Children are yet to be fully fulfilled on a worldwide scale. In the past decade, 2 million children were deprived of their lives by wars and conflicts and more than 10 million lost their parents or mothers because of HIV/AIDS. We should not forget that every year more than 10 million children die of various kinds of diseases, 100 million are denied access to schooling, 150 million are undernourished and 600 million are struggling for survival in abject poverty. The present situation in Afghanistan best illustrates that poverty, disease and lack of education are the root cause hindering child development. We are deeply aware of the arduousness of our mission and the magnitude of our responsibility.
To show concern for children is to show concern for the future of mankind. Protection of children is protection of our future. We have already ushered in a new century. High and new technologies are advancing by leaps and bounds. The enormous strength and huge resources in the hands of mankind for poverty alleviation and development offers both the possibility and the promise for the further promotion of the survival, protection and development of children. We urgently need to take decisive and coordinated actions at national, regional and global levels to further implement the follow-up actions of the World Summit for Children and to effectively respond to new issues and challenges so as to create a brighter future for children. To this end, the Chinese Government proposes that:
1. "Children first" should be the basic principle for child development. The interests of children should come first at all times. With the foresight of being responsible for the future generations, all governments should further incorporate child development in their national economic and social development strategies and set their targets and programs for action for child development in light of their national conditions. Efforts should be made to strengthen the protection of the legitimate rights and interests of children, continuously improve laws and rules and regulations and create a favourable environment for children's healthy growth. In addition, while giving full play to the leading role of the central government in addressing children's issues, it is necessary to mobilize all social forces, including non-governmental organizations, private sectors, communities and families, to push for an all-round development of the cause of children.
2. The eradication of poverty is the prerequisite for child development. Children are the biggest victims of poverty, and poverty presents severe challenges to children's dignity and fundamental rights. To solve the question of child development at its root, it is essential to start with the eradication of poverty. Therefore, all governments and the international community must take every possible measure to reduce poverty and provide more resources for investment in children. Furthermore, it is essential to realize common and balanced development and narrow the gap between regions and nations so that all children will benefit from economic globalization and technological advance and that social justice and fairness will be attained.
3. An urgent task for child development is to highlight the priorities. We support the current special session in its effort to set a feasible child development objective and take corresponding measures targeted at the outstanding issues in the area of child development in countries, regions and across the world. It is our view that in our future work, priority should be given to maternity and childcare, elementary education, control of HIV/AIDS and protection of the legitimate rights and interests of children. More attention should be paid to these issues and additional input should be made in terms of personnel, resources and funds.
4. International cooperation is an important guarantee for child development. Effective international cooperation is indispensable for the settlement of child issues in the world. The developed countries have the responsibility and obligations to provide funds for the developing countries, transfer technologies useful to the protection and development of children, the low-cost disease-preventing technologies in particular, and help strengthen the capacity building of the developing countries in the field of child development. More importantly, the developed countries should honor their commitments in terms of fund, technology, debt and trade, create favorable external development environment for the developing countries, and narrow the gap between the North and the South so as to enable the latter to put more resources in the survival, protection and development of children.
Taking good care of children and bringing them up healthily is a traditional virtue of the Chinese nation. It has been the consistent policy of the Chinese Government to stick to the principle of "children first" and to fully protect their rights to survival, development, protection and participation. With a good government and a united people, as well as a sustained economic growth rate of 10.1%, China has in the past decade laid a solid foundation for the improvement and development of the living conditions for children. Since the World Summit for Children, the Chinese Government has been active in honoring its commitments, conscientiously improving the environment for the survival and development of children and safeguarding their legitimate rights, and has made unremitting efforts for the promotion of child development. We have promulgated the National Program of Action for Children Development in China in the 1990's, prioritizing child development in the country's economic and social development, and giving stronger and all-out support to the cause of children. The Chinese Government has also issued a series of laws and regulations to provide legal protection for children's legitimate rights and interests such as the Law for the Protection of Minors, the Law on the Protection of Women's Rights and Interests, the Law on Maternal and Child Healthcare and the Law on Education. In addition, we have made sure that the general public get actively involved on the question of children and have given full play to the role of non-governmental organizations, communities, families and the mass media. Up to date, China has basically achieved the global objectives set forth at the World Summit for Children.
At the same time, we are keenly aware that China, with a large population and territory, is restrained by its economic and social development level. So there are still a lot of difficulties and problems in child development. In this connection, we have enacted the National Program of Action for Children Development in China (2001-2010), on the basis of an analysis of the cases of 350 million Chinese children, and promulgated it for implementation, with a view to providing better guidance for the cause of child development in China. I am convinced that, as a country with a large population of children, China's achievements will make an important contribution to the development of the world's cause of children.
Mr. President, Fellow Colleagues,
Let us strive hand in hand to turn these beautiful commitments into wonderful realities so that all children will enjoy brighter future where their young minds will be free from the shadow of war and suffering and far away from the menace of poverty and disease.
Thank you, Mr. President.