H.E.MR SOMSAVAT LENGSAVAD,
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR MOTHERS AND CHILDREN,
SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE LAO PDR, HEAD OF THE LAO DELEGATION,
THE PLENARY MEETING OF THE 27TH UN SPECIAL SESSION ON CHILDREN,
NEW YORK, 09 MAY 2002.
On behalf of the delegation of the Lao PDR, I would like to congratulate you on your unanimous election to the presidency of the United Nations Special Session on children. I am convinced that with your wisdom and vast diplomatic skills, the historical UN Special Session will be crowned with brilliant success.
I also wish to express my sincere appreciation to H.E Mr Kofi Annan,
Secretary General of the United Nations for exerting tremendous efforts
to the cause of children in the world.
At the World Summit for Children, the world leaders made a joint commitment
to build a better future for children. During the last ten years, as stated
by the President of the UN Special Session for children and Secretary General
Kofi Annan, much progress has been made in the implementation of the World
Summit's goals. Millions of children have been saved, more children are
in school and a number of treaties related to the protection of children
have been concluded by the international community. However, these achievements
have been uneven. The developing countries, particularly, the least developed
countries, land-locked developing countries and small-island developing
states, still face numerous difficulties, especially the financial one.
Today, we are gathering to reaffirm our commitments made eleven years ago
and to demonstrate our determination to seize this historical opportunity
to jointly complete the unfinished agenda and address new emerging issues
in order to build a world that would ensure the legitimate interests of
In the Lao PDR, our Government, with the support and assistance from friendly countries and international organizations, particularly UNICEF, has made considerable efforts in attaining the goals of the World Summit for Children. First and foremost, a commission for mothers and children has been established from central to grassroots levels, as a follow-up mechanism for the implementation of the Summit objectives. At the same time, we have improved and enacted several child-related laws, that govern the exercise of the rights of the child, protect and care for children. Those laws are in conformity with the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Laos became state party in 1991.
In implementing the right to survival, we have organized National Immunization Days along with the routine vaccination service delivery throughout the country with a wide participation of the society. As a result, some achievements in many areas have been recorded, for instance: the rate of children under one receiving the third dose of immunization for DPT increased from 17% in 1990 to 53% in 2001, the infant mortality rate at birth has dropped from 117/1000 LB in 1990 to 82/1000 LB in 2000; the ratio of rural people having access to clean water has climbed up from 15 % in 1992 to 52 % in 2000, and the nationwide iodized salt consumption has increased from 30% to 80% for the same period. The most outstanding success for us was the declaration of the Lao PDR as a polio free country in 2000.
Beside the progress made in the health sector, the basic education for children has also expanded, the net primary school enrolment of children has increased from 63 % in 1992 to 77,3 % in 2000.
Nevertheless, like other least developed countries, we are still encountering numerous difficulties. At present, our Government has drawn up a socio-economic development plan, which aims to rid the country from the LDC status by the year 2020. Among other things, the plan has defined a series of objectives for nationwide expansion of primary health care for children and improvement of the quality of basic education as well as the establishment of a juvenile justice system for children.
We stand ready to cooperate with the international community in the
protection of and caring for children, and will do our utmost to achieve
the objectives of the World Summit for Children as well as the present
UN Special Session. In this regard, we appeal to the developed countries
and international organizations to continue to render support and assistance
to the Least Developed Countries in their efforts to ensure that children
around the world live a prosperous and healthy life, and have access to
education and adequate health care service.