In the Name of God, The Compassionate, The Merciful
It is a distinct honor for me to speak at this Special
Session of the UN General Assembly on the ten-year review of the World
Summit for Children, a global event to the success of which the people
and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran feel a sense of duty
to make their contribution. This is indeed a very propitious opportunity
to take stock of the implementation of the World Declaration and Plan of
Action of the World Summit for Children, evaluate accomplishments made
thus far and obstacles encountered along the way, identify the challenges
ahead, and look for further initiatives and measures to meet these challenges
and ensure sustainable progress of children in the years and decades to
come. In brief, we are all here to work for "a world fit for children".
Needless to say that the existing problems related to children are somewhat different from those in the past in terms of their nature, scope, and cause. Therefore, the first and foremost task lying ahead of us is to undertake an honest appraisal of the past experiences, to update the goals adopted at the World Summit so as to address major new challenges, to define specific areas of action, to determine how to shape the operational strategies for realizing measurable goals, and to ensure setting up a progressive international machinery for the best interests of children. The goals should be innovative and action oriented, utilizing all the available resources and tools to make a major difference towards the elimination of the obstacles in the way of improving the situation of children on a global scale, particularly in the developing world. To this end, all governmental and civil society organizations,as, well .as intergovernmental actors should assume responsibility and actively play their part.
A safe and secure environment for the children and youth, in our view, is the institution of family that, as the basic unit of the society, holds the primary responsibility for the protection, upbringing, and development of children. A happy relationship between the child and the parents is certainly imperative for the realization of the child's innate potentialities and development of a more humane order. It is from this vantage point that we develop our plans and strategies at national level, and formulate our position at international scene.
In a world marked with the uneven distribution of wealth and opportunities, insecurity, exclusion and armed conflicts, the plight of children must be given paramount attention and prominence. The saddening situation of the Palestinian children under Israeli occupation is not only a clear manifestation of a brutal practice of an occupying power against children, but a grave injustice to the humanity as a whole. We cannot and should not remain indifferent to the deterioration of the situation of Palestinian children in the occupied Palestinian territories due to the. continuing inhumane policies and practices of the Israeli forces, resulting in an acute humanitarian situation. A recent and clear example of such a situation, as is widely known, is the refugee camp of Jenin where many innocent people, including children, were massacared by the Israeli forces. I venture to use this ample opportunity to appeal to the international community to take urgent and decisive measures to put an end to the crimes committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories so as to alliviate the suffering of the Palestinian children. This world review conference is a unique occasion to address this situation of dire and heartbreaking nature.
Let me now turn to the national scene. Having actively participated in the World Summit for Children and made its contribution to the final outcome, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has since vigorously pursued the implementation of the Summit's Plan of Action. Promotion and protection of the children's rights and status have been an integral part of the policy of the Iranian Government during the past decade.
The concurrent policy devoted to the expansion of civil society and institutionalization of its role at the national level has also contributed to a more active engagement and participation by children and youth in different walks of social and political life. The on-going popular reform process within the Iranian society, which aims at transforming various aspects and dimensions of our social and political life within the framework of the Constitution has, inter alia, much to do with the issue of children and youth. In recent years, Iranian youth have played a paramount and ever increasing role in the social and political life of the Iranian society, including in national elections. Nevertheless, difficulties and challenges in various areas are yet to be addressed and overcome.
Our overall policy towards children and youth is based on the exalted Islamic precepts and values as well as the letter and spirit of the Constitution, and the commitments derived from the international instruments in particular the World Summit's outcome and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. To fulfill these commitments, Iran has prepared and submitted its National Report on the current situation of children in the country, as required by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Our National Report identifies, in clear terms, both the areas of improvements and the obstacles encountered.
Provision of necessary services particularly in the fields of health and education has been high on the agenda of the Government. These services have contributed to the improvement of the children conditions across the country. As an example, the mortality rate of children has constantly followed a falling trend and the number of children attending primary schools has drastically increased in the course of the past decade.
In the Third Five-Year Development Plan of the country, which is currently in force, special attention has been paid to the objective of the promotion and protection of the children's rights, including through increased allocation of annual budget for child related areas at national, provincial and local levels. In this context, the sectors of education, art and culture, health, treatment and nutrition, social security and rehabilitation, physical training of youth and women are allocated altogether up to 43 percent of the total budget of the country. Indeed, the Plan contains a series of measures to establish updated goals to guarantee the survival, health, protection and integral development of children. In this process, the quality of life of the children has emerged as a new focus of national concern. Despite unfavorable external factors, economic hardship, and long-term financial and social implications of hosting more than two million refugees over the past two decades, considerable portion of total public expenditure has been allocated to the development of children in all fields.
In addition, the Parliament has also been active in the promulgation of necessary legislation with the view to improving the conditions of children and youth throughout the country. A new bill has been initiated in the Parliament, which focuses on the child growth, protection and development. The aim of the bill is to tackle major causes of social and family problems that the children may be subjected to. Efforts have been undertaken to pass the bill in an expeditious manner. It is highly expected that the provisions contained in the bill will provide a safe environment for the children and youth to be physically healthy, mentally alert and secure, and socially competent and able to learn. It is also noteworthy to mention that the ILO Convention of 1999 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor has recently been adopted by the Parliament and Iran has therefore become a party thereto.
Betterment of children's situation in various fields, in all societies and on a global scale, calls for the resolute will and determination of the entire human community. May I therefore avail myself of this unique opportunity of this historic occasion of the Special Session to appeal to you all, Ladies and Gentlemen, to join hands in solidarity to rise to challenge and to commit ourselves, individually and collectively, to make the life of all children across the globe, in the years and decades ahead, a humane and fulfilling experience. Let us resolve not to be found wanting in this solemn commitment.
Thank you very much, Mr. President.