New York , 9 May 2002

Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I begin by quoting the indomitable freedom fighter, President Nelson Mandela, with respect to the centrality of children in the family, in the nation, and in the world: "We cannot waste our precious children, no not one, not another day. It is long past time for us to act on their part. I remind you of your own power and obligation to make the world a better place for children."

What simple yet powerful words calling for action!

Mr. President,
Inaction, therefore, is a luxury, which this 27th Special Session on Children can ill afford. In this connection, we can borrow a thought from Dante's Divine Comedy that there is a place in the "hall of shame" for those who refuse to take a stand in the defense of children. Defense of Children's Rights are essentially Human Rights, entrenched in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and in the two Optional Protocols.

The Convention, which came into force in 1990 is the most ratified human rights treaty in history. It affirms the right of children to a life free from abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Mr. President,
Today, nearly twelve years after the 1990 World Summit on Children, we have come to review the implementation of the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and the Development of Children, in terms of progress made or the lack thereof during the decade of the nineties.

The Secretary General's report (A/S-27/3) entitled We the Children provides the best estimate of what has been achieved and what remains undone. Based upon national-level reviews from around the world on the global child, the Secretary General concludes that the world has short-changed children by under-investment, especially their health, education and protection."

Too much abuse, exploitation, poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, disease, especially catastrophic and deadly HIV/AIDS still remain the fate of children, so antithetical to the spirit and intent of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

Mr. President,
My country's financial constraints, notwithstanding, is pleased to report that

- Grenada's under-five mortality rate in 2000, was 26 per 1000 live births, substantially lower than the region's average of 378.
- The percentage of children immunized with the three needed doses of DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) was increased from 81% in 1990 to 88% in 1999, better than the regional average of 87%.
- And, of course, primary education is a must for all children, thereby ensuring a very high literacy rate.

Mr. President,
In keeping with the UN Special Session on Children, April was designated Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month in Grenada. The Grenada National Coalition on The Rights of the child (GNCRC) in conjunction with the Global Movement for children GMC and UNICEF's point person, have been rallying government leaders, schools, NGOs, churches, labour movements the media in support of the say yes for children campaign by placing children at the top of the national agenda. "They are our most precious resource, the future of the country and they deserve a proper environment conducive to their growth and development. Above all, we must listen to children," according to Mrs. Marietta Mitchell, the wife of the Prime Minister as she closed the month program.

In the same vein the Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, made himself available to a children's forum for the purpose of answering their questions and receiving their suggestions as to how they can best contribute to the advancement of their country.

Later he launched a youth employment and development project called Imani, which is an African word meaning faith in God, faith in yourself and faith in one another. The Imani Project is designed to provide 500 young people between the ages of 17 to 35 with the opportunity to acquire and develop skills, gain job experience, improve self-esteem, build confidence and develop a positive attitude about themselves and the world of work, while receiving a monthly stipend.

Mr. President,
The outcome document of the Special Session has been aptly entitled a world fit for children, which complements "we the children" plea. This is why The Children's Forum, preceding the Special Session is an innovation which can be the most far-reaching outcome of the session. We listened to their representatives in the General Assembly yesterday during the opening of the Special Session, and we learned that "out of the mouths of babes and sucklings come forth words of wisdom." We can be childlike and yet not be childish.

Mr. President, 
From the perspective of parents, children are their reward and their responsibility, their pride and their joy, the centerpiece of the family.

From the perspective of the nation and indeed the world, children are the trustees of posterity. Therefore, as the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the world. The future of children! The future of the world!

Finally, Mr. President,
The ancient Chinese philosopher, Mencius, says that "one should care for one's own children first, and extend the same care to the world's children."

Thank you Mr. President! Thank you Ms. Carol Bellamy! Thank you Ambassador Patricia Durant!