H.E. Dr. Achmad
It is indeed a distinct pleasure for me to extend you my sincere congratulations on your election to the presidency of the 27th Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Children. I am fully confident that under your capable leadership our deliberations on the survival, protection, and development of children will be fruitful.
Let me applaud UNICEF for their tireless efforts to promote the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We are grateful for the cooperation and assistance it has rendered to many governments, including my country, to promote improved living conditions for children. Let me also commend the Bureau of the Preparatory Committee for their tremendous efforts during the end of the year decade review process and the preparatory process for this special session.
The goals of the World Summit are comprehensive, they are far-reaching and they are attainable. The reduction of under five mortality rates and maternal mortality rates; the reduction of child malnutrition; improvement in the access to safe water and sanitation; the promotion of basic education, as well as, strengthening child protection are shared aspirations among poor and rich alike.
While we fully recognize the millions of accomplishments thus far, we are also very much aware of the magnitude of the work that lies ahead. Children are lost each year to disease and hunger, which are often readily preventable. Conflict and civil strife have escalated in which children have become either direct targets or collateral victims. Likewise, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has reached catastrophic proportions in several parts of the world, unraveling decades of gain in child survival and development.
As we begin the new millennium, chronic poverty has become the single greatest obstacle to a better and brighter future for every child. Indeed, children are hardest hit as poverty strikes at the core of their potential for development. Eradication of poverty must therefore be a key objective of development efforts. We should ensure that poverty eradication strategies should not only include children, but they should have children at their very center.
Turning briefly to the situation in Indonesia, there is no question that, in the midst of our economic turmoil, Indonesia remains fully committed to the goals of the 1990 World Summit on Children and the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Last year, to strengthen its commitment to the promotion and protection of the rights of its children, Indonesia signed the "Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict" and the "Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography". Previously, Indonesia ratified "ILO Convention no. 138/1973" on the minimum Age for Admission to Employment and "ILO Convention no. 182/1999" on Immediate Action to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor.
Over the past decade, the Indonesian Government has undertaken a number of major policy adjustments. Among these, it has sought to sharpen the targets of its development plans and programs for realizing its urgent goals, particularly in the area of promoting health, nutrition, education and overall well being of children, women and families. Similarly, the harmonization process of national acts and legislation with the provisions of the CRC is still in progress among concerned institutions. In fact, a policy document on child protection law is, being deliberated at present by the Indonesian Parliament, which considers it one of the top priorities on its agenda of its current session.
As a developing country, poverty is still a dominant factor hampering Indonesia's efforts to improve the well being of its children. While our strategy to eradicate poverty has been a singular success over the past two decades during which time it achieved a sharp reduction from about 65 percent to about 15 per cent, these figures have been reversed in the wake of the Asian financial crisis beginning in 1997. Now, more than 25% of our population is categorized as poor. As a result, they spend a greater percentage of their income on food, thus reducing their available resources for other necessities including, among others, those of health and education.
Indonesia's poverty strategy for the next five years will focus on both short term transient poverty and long term structural poverty. Its overall target is to achieve a reduction of 4 per cent from the 1999 level and to improve the social indicators of health, education, nutrition and access to clean water, among others. The focus of the strategy is on promoting opportunities, empowering the poor, and enhancing the Social Safety Net. The main strategy will emphasize fostering rapid sustainable development, strengthening local governance and community participation through decentralization, and providing effective public services, in particular in education, health, water supply and other essential social services.
But, unless vigorous measures are urgently taken, the threatened menace of a "lost generation" of malnourished, unhealthy and poorly educated children could become a stark reality. In anticipating such peril, Indonesia is committed to investing more of its resources for the poor, particularly for children and women, and support for the 20/20 initiative in which the government should allocate 20% of its national budget to social development programs. To deal with poverty and related problems, as well as a response to the economic crisis, the Government of Indonesia is now implementing various programs and approaches under the Social Safety Net (SSN) program. The programs address the needs of the target recipients (poor people) and are appropriate to the local conditions as well as the recent introduction of regional autonomy policy. These new programs have been more comprehensive than previously which has helped to reduce the worse effect of the crisis on the poor. The SSN program covers food security, education, health, social welfare and income generating programs that are quickly and directly provided to intended recipients such as children, women, families, schools and health centers. The main objectives of the SSN program are to (a) Provide ample security for the provision of basic food at affordable prices to the poor. (b) Create productive employment to increase the purchasing power of the poor, (c) Provide health and education services for the poor, particularly school children and women, (d) Generate community level economic activities.
As to health, Indonesia takes pride in its progress. In the last decade alone approximately one and a quarter million village based integrated service posts, or "Posyandus" have been established and all providing preventive maternal, child health and nutrition information and services, including family planning throughout the country. Likewise, Indonesia has successfully reached a number of goals including its 1990 goal of universal child immunization and by 1999, safe and clean water has been reached 67% of all households in urban areas, together with the sanitation standards set by the World Health Organization.
On the issue of HIV/AIDS in Indonesia statistics are considered relatively low. Yet the danger of widespread infection has grown sharply with the instance of adolescent drug abusers on the increase. In facing this situation, Indonesia has established an AIDS National Committee that focuses its efforts to minimize the spread of infection through enhanced awareness among adolescents about sexually transmitted diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS. Likewise, since Indonesia is geographically strategic for transitional drug trafficking, regional and international cooperation is considered essential to properly address drug related HIV/AIDS cases.
With regard to education, a number of strategies and activities have been conducted to improve its quality, especially at the primary and secondary levels. This is done through the nation's universal or "Basic Education for All" program and its "Education for All" program. Particular efforts have also been designed carried out in eliminating gender disparity in education. This is consistent with our objective of equality for all people in all walks of life and across all age groups. As part of the ongoing decentralization process, more responsibility is being transferred to local governments and local schools to organize and harmonize programs with the needs of their local communities, while at the same time improving the overall quality of education.
The democratic transition process in our country has regrettably given rise to increased horizontal conflict between communities. While, our efforts are focusing on the overall solution of such conflicts, special attention has been rendered to humanitarian assistance, particularly to ensure the protection of internally displaced women and children. In this regard, Indonesia welcomes international cooperation and support in developing solutions.
Following the 2nd Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC), there is more impetus to eliminate CSEC through national, regional and international actions. Nationally, Indonesia signed the Convention against Transitional Organized Crime as well as its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. Recently, Indonesia took the initiative to co-host the Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transitional Crimes. While these efforts are focusing on criminalizing the perpetrators and combating the market, special attention should also be rendered to ensure not punishing the child victims.
At the global level child related dilemmas including the eradication of poverty, the elimination of diseases and child labor as well as the need to control HIV/AIDS, require collective efforts by both the developed and developing countries. Thus, international cooperation should be strengthened particularly in meeting the agreed targets of 0.7 per cent of the GNP as ODA level of the donor countries. In addition, both donor and recipient countries should seek to fully implement the 20/20 initiative in line with the Oslo and Hanoi Consensus documents thereby allocating 20% of such development assistance for social development.
Before concluding, let me add that while the world is unfortunately characterized by increasing challenges to child survival, protection and development, yet, children do have an opportunity of improved their living conditions. In this context, the World Summit for Children and the Convention on the Rights of the Child represents a solid foundation upon which the build on the advancements of the 21st century for addressing the imbalances and contradictions in our societies.
In conclusion, let me just add that we see the outcome document "A World Fit for Children" as a comprehensive and action oriented one that will renew our commitment to the promotion and protection of the rights and well-being of children. Indonesia, for its part, stands ready and fully committed to moving forward to improve the survival, protection and development of its children as contained in the Plan of Action, adopted by this Special Session. However, the financial crisis that still grips Indonesia, may pose constraints to the Government, in its efforts to fully implement the targets sets in the said document.