Mr. Imre Szakács

State Secretary,
Ministry of Youth and Sports

at the Twenty-seventh special session of the General Assembly on Children

May 8, 2002

Mr. President,

A modern childcare system is functioning well in Hungary, which comprises the basic rights of children and the rights and responsibilities of the parents. The core of the ten-year national health care project is the "Healthy Start of Life" project, which provides a background from conception to adulthood for healthy lifestyle, illness prevention facilities, and an integrated, healthy adult and elderly age. This forms the basis for the civic right of free pregnancy care, free infant and childhood medical attention, and free vaccination. The fact that 99% of our children are vaccinated and no epidemic contagious diseases have occurred for long years in Hungary is a major achievement. This year is the 101st  anniversary of national childcare, and surveys reveal that infant death is practically non-existent in the country.

The childcare system is an integrative unit of two-fold function. On the one hand it guarantees certain provisions to assist bringing up children in families through the basic childcare system. On the other hand, it is supposed to offer a family-like atmosphere through the specialised child protection system for children who fall out of family care for one reason or another. The primary aim of the modern Hungarian childcare system is to assist the family bringing-up of children, the prevention, and termination of the endangerment of children. Social and health care institutions working in co-operation with the child welfare services operating in all cities and villages represent the elements of this system, such as the infant nurse service, the pediatrician network, the family care centres, the educational institutions, and the pedagogical counsellors.

The modification of the Child Protection Act in 2002 underlined the importance of children being brought up in families, the child welfare services that act for prevention, the assistant and foster parents network, and more emphasis was given to adoption as a legal means of family replacement.

Mr. President,

A major preoccupation of my Government for the past four years has been to become the government for families. We have defined new principles for the support of families and children in the last four years to achieve this aim:

My Government prepared the National Family Policy Principle the aim of which was the enhancement of the standard of living of families, the consolidation. of the security of family life, and the encouragement of the growth of the population. The introduction of the scheme ensures that the right for the allowances does not depend on the income of the family, but it is a civic right thus rewarding the bringing up of children. The assistance given to families with children involves, on the one hand, the general allowances for all families with children, and on the other hand, additional special support to families in unfavourable conditions. Support to those in unfavourable conditions aims at helping children in families of poor financial background to catch up - the Childcare Act integrated the supplementary family allowance replacing the regular childcare support into the family support system, and it offers a single-time educational allowance to children going to school.

The Government of Hungary being concerned about the situation of children and youth has set up a Ministry of Youth and Sports in early 1999. The creation of the posts of child's right representatives, and family and child legal commissioners helping the efficient safeguarding of children's rights belongs to one of the major modifications of the Childcare Act. These legal posts will enter into force in 2003. In addition to that, we have established the youth communication system, which primarily aims at involving the child and youth organisations into the defining of governmental priorities, and the division of resources as widely as possible. Particular attention was paid to work closely with large families' organizations and those of the disabled.

The Government launched several tenders supporting the creation and operation of child and youth self-governments to encourage children's involvement.

Last year, a campaign was initiated to counter media programmes overwhelmed with aimless aggressiveness. Our long-term aim is to create a so-called "trademark" that would cover all areas involving children and youngsters, and would serve as a sign of "no aggressiveness" for the parents.

In terms of the protection of children and youngsters we focus on the repression of drug abuse: a drug strategy was worked out that was approved by the Government and the opposition parties alike last year. New drug prevention model projects were launched with the assistance of the Government, a part of which is drug prevention in schools. In addition to that, my Government made steps to keep young people away from drug abuse by supporting institutions organising alternative leisure-time and sports programs.

In November 2001, we were proud to host a successful European regional meeting on actions against sexual harassment of children in co-operation with the Council of Europe, UNICEF. It was an honour for us that the representative of the Government of Hungary presented the conclusions of the meeting at the Yokohama World Conference last December.

Mr. President,

In the twelve years that have passed since the political changes in Hungary the conditions to form a new vision of the future for the young generations have surfaced. Information society has become a reality, and our joining the European Union is at hand. It is not only the shaping up of a new vision of the future that is important for the young generations, but a new basis has to be found for the relationship between the state and its young citizens. Young generations are exposed to several controversial influences in this dynamically mobilised society. The new role of the state urges to offer guidance to young people for that they can differentiate between the valuable and the invaluable in our everchanging world. Assistance in the self-definition of the young citizen by any special means of the state is also an important factor in legislation. The draft of the Youth Act is being drawn up in accordance with the above, which aims at carrying out our goal to give local governments a special allocation for youth affairs from the state budget, thus they can finance children and youth facilities. The provision of the Youth Act provides free Internet access to every young person is important to be mentioned as well.

Mr. President,

The Government of the Republic of Hungary is strongly committed to the full implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This significant international legal document provides an appropriate basis for the respect of children's rights. In this context, I would like to stress that Hungary is a party to almost all human rights conventions, including instruments on children. My Government has signed the two Optional Protocols of the Rights of the Child, and the constitutional process of ratification is underway.

I am fully convinced that children should be involved into the preparation of the decision making process about their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

On behalf of my Government I would like to express our gratitude to the Preparatory Committee for its efforts aimed at drawing up a consensus-based, coherent and forwardlooking final document for this Special Session. Hungary shares the concerns that there is a significant gap between political intention and the achieved results. In accordance with the above, I would like to emphasise that we will do our utmost to have a final document that describes priorities and target-oriented aims in terms of the full respect of the rights of the child.

Thank you, Mr. President.