10 MAY, 2002


Mr. President,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to congratulate the UN General Assembly for placing on its agenda this extremely important issue for the consideration of the world community. My appreciation also goes to Ambassador Patricia Durrant, Chairperson of the preparatory Committee of this special session and the other members of the bureau for all the efforts they have exerted to make this session a success.

Mr. President,

The bright and prosperous future we long so much for can only be realized if we give our children the attention they need, and give it to them today. Children determine the courses of our future development endeavors. They will have to shoulder the responsibility of finishing up whatever good work we have begun and of furthering civilization. As such, they are our pillars of a bright, prosperous and more civilized tomorrow. How well they will shoulder that responsibility tomorrow will, however, greatly depend on how well we prepare them today. Thus, in every major national and international forum, the need and problems of children has become the subject of intense debate and dialogue. The 1990 New York World Summit for Children is a vivid testimony to the concern that the international community has shown in recognizing the need of children.

Mr. President,

Based on the 1990 Summit Declaration and Plan of Action, the Government of Ethiopia, as part of its overall reform program, has taken a number of initiatives to improve the conditions of Ethiopian Children. These measures include, inter alia, the adoption of the new Ethiopian constitution and the ratification of the Convention on the Sights of the Child. Measures have also been taken to harmonize the laws of Ethiopia with the basic principles of the constitution and the convention. New legislation has been enacted to establish the Offices of the Human Rights Commission and the Ombudsman, which will have child protection units.

Apart from these legislative measures, national and sectoral development policies on education, health, water, population, and developmental social welfare that give
special emphasis to the well being of children have been adopted and implemented. In order to enhance the institutional capacity of the school system, and promote basic health services, the government has allocated significant budget to these sectors. Consequently, encouraging achievements were registered in immunization, polio campaign and other related health care services and in education enrolment rate at the primary level. Thus general health service coverage has been raised from 48% to 54%, while education growth enrolment ratio at primary level has increased from 24% in 1994/1995 to 57.4% in 2000/2001. In the same period female participation has increased from 9.9% to 40.6%.

In addition to the aforementioned measures taken in the area of policies and legislation, Ethiopia has submitted to its Parliament the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) and the ILO Convention No. 182 on the elimination of the worst forms of child labour. It is expected that these will be ratified soon. In addition, it has started the process leading to the signature and ratification of the optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

Mr. President,

The Government of Ethiopia has prepared a National Plan of Action (NPA), to improve the well being of the Ethiopian children and women and translate the Convention on the Rights of the Child into tangible reality as per the declaration. Never before had there been such an action plan shared by all institutions of the government. The fact that all concerned bodies share the programme has made planning and coordinating of activities possible.

Children in Ethiopia and in countries around the world have expressed what future they would like to have by casting their vote in the Say Yes for Children campaign, ranking 10 priority issues affecting them. In Ethiopia children have voted by ballot, on the Internet and by a show of hands at organized events. For them, the most important issue facing their country is fighting HIV/AIDS and winning the war on AIDS.

Furthermore, in recognition of the urgent need for concerted and accelerated action to tackle the HIV/AIDS problem a National Policy on HIV/AIDS has been adopted and a plan of action is developed. National and Regional HIV/AIDS councils and secretariat responsible for the implementation of the policy are established both at Federal and Regional levels.

Despite these positive developments, we still have a long way to go to create favorable conditions for our children. The situation of children, therefore, has not yet improved as much as it should. This situation can be attributed to a number of factors; which include the decline of official development assistance, the payment of huge amount of debt, unfavorable international trade, the scourge of the HIV/ AIDS pandemic and poverty. Unless these situations are reversed we cannot promise our children a world that is fit for them. Therefore we need to take measures that are basic and realistic.

Mr. President,

The alleviation of poverty, would improve access to education, health facilities and other social services for children in particular and the people in general. In view of this; my Government is preparing Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) after a comprehensive analysis of the status of poverty and its determinants in the country in consultation with the public and other stakeholders.

Needless to say that the primary responsibility for addressing poverty and improving of access to education, health and social services for the Ethiopian people in general and children in particular rests on my government. It, however, needs the support of the international community as well.

Mr. President,

In conclusion may I reiterate the firm conviction of my delegation that this assembly will come up with workable and reliable solutions that can be translated in to action. The solutions have to include enhanced international cooperation, increased development assistance, the total cancellation of debt, fair international terms of trade and improved foreign direct investment particularly to the least developing countries.

It is equally important that countries should give priority to the problems of children to the extent possible by allocating the available funds and utilizing them to improve the lives of children.

I thank you