H.E. Mrs. Suzanne
Allow me to express our pleasure at participating in this special session of the General Assembly devoted to children. I am proud to be here speaking on behalf of my country with its rich heritage rooted in both the Islamic culture and the African continent. Our session acquires a special importance in light of its review and appraisal of our achievements over the last decade towards attaining development and prosperity for our children and striving to agree on a future plan of action that supports our efforts to protect the rights of the world's children. When we speak of supporting and protecting children's rights, we call for a world worthy of shouldering its children's responsibilities and capable of preserving their rights without exception. Here, I must recall the recent violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, where all international agreements and charters pertaining to human rights were absent, at the forefront of which were those on the rights of the child.
The negative traumatic repercussions of the tragedy, which unfolded in the Occupied Palestinian Territories over the past weeks, will not be confined to the children of Palestine alone; they will extend to include the children of the region and of the world without any distinction. What took place sows the seeds of fear and hatred in the hearts of the innocent children on both sides. It deprives them of the spirit of tolerance. It creates an atmosphere of hopelessness and uncertainty and it opens the doors of violence and extremism. All this while the world's conscience is, for the most part, a mere bystander. And we all ask ourselves have we lost this conscience? Or are there other standards that are being applied in today's world.
I call upon you, in the framework of our collective responsibility, to contribute to putting an end to the violations of human rights, to stem the bloodshed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and to strive for peaceful and just solutions to provide a safe life for children regardless of their affiliations or nationalities. Children are, in the final analysis, one and the same. They are innocent beings who view life with hope and who must not bare the burden of the past because they belong to the future.
I had the honor to head my country's delegation to the world summit for children, as Egypt was one of the six countries that initiated the call for convening it. Today this honor has been bestowed upon me once again with my participation in this session, the convening of which coincides with unprecedented global challenges whose repercussions extend to our children. These challenges were not present at the time of the world summit. Most prominent among them are the political and economic ramifications of globalization, successive technological developments, structural adjustments, the prevalence of armed conflicts and the perfusion of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. All of these challenges have impacted the ability of developing countries to address questions related to the survival of the child, his development and his protection. While we are aware that many achievements have been attained through legislation, policies and institutions, the question remains as to the nature of international programs of action for the next decade and their priorities at the national and regional levels.
A genuine international partnership can only be established through a will and capability accompanied by commitment and availability of resources; a partnership that will allow us to confront the problems of children and the challenges facing developing countries in this context. Here I would like to recall that Egypt has gone a long way in dealing with these complex issues, which represent the core substance of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. While I take pride in the achievements attained for children in my country, I also accept that the road remains long and that the challenges are still present. A priority here is to benefit from the lessons learned so as to diffuse the progress we have achieved, and from which the vast majority of our children have benefited, in order to afford it to those children in need of special care.
We take pride in belonging to both the Arab world and the African continent, and Egypt was honored to host the two regional preparatory meetings held for this special session. The campaign `say yes to the children' also began from Cairo. It is a source of personal satisfaction to me that the 37th session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity, which was held in Lusaka, has mandated me to present the Declaration on the African Common Position and to ensure that it receives the attention it deserves from this special session.
The African continent represents
the world's greatest developmental challenge, for despite the attainment
of a significant number of achievements, the African child remains the
most deprived. This fact was ably expressed by Africa's children themselves
in Cairo, and today I am conveying their voice to the international community,
calling upon it to renew its commitment to contribute to the translation
of their aspirations and dreams into a reality and to ensure a future which
does not marginalize their existence. The time has come to heed their call.
The world can no longer afford to ignore the children of Africa.
I have full confidence in the ability of this forum to define the mechanisms that support our task and assist our programs of action.
In conclusion, I reiterate before
you that the establishment of peace and stability, that putting an end
to the suffering resulting from foreign occupation and armed conflicts
- not only in the Middle East and Africa but throughout the world - are
indispensable conditions for any family to have a secure present and a
secure future. The peace of the world is indivisible and the stability
of nations and peoples is interdependent. Childhood is one and the same
and our hopes are also one and the same to establish a world worthy of
children, which is the theme of our special session and to which I wish