MR. Karlis Greiskalns
Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia, Head of Delegation

on the occasion of the Special Session of the General Assembly on Children

New York,
9 May 2002

Mr. President!
Ladies and gentlemen!

It is a great honour for me to address the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children- an event of enormous significance for Latvia and for the world. On behalf of the government of Latvia I would like to express support and sincere appreciation to the Secretary General H.E. Kofi Annan for his hard work to draw attention of the leaders of the Member States to unsolved problems that demand coordinated efforts and activities of numerous parties. Likewise I hold in very high esteem the contribution of the United Nations Children's Fund and the Executive Director of UNICEF Ms. Carol Bellamy personally for organizing this event.

When the leaders of the world convened to adopt the Plan of Action for the final stage of the 20th century, Latvia was not yet a Member State of the UN but we also have evaluated our accomplishments.

A lot has been done. In 1991, immediately after regaining its independence, Latvia joined the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. To fully integrate the UN Convention into the national legislation the Law on Protection of Rights of the Child was adopted in 1998. The law delineates competences and responsibilities of each institution, as well as provides the basis for protection of children's rights.

Sub-committee for Children's Rights at the Latvian parliament (Saeima) has been productive. The Cabinet of Ministers has established an inter-ministerial Committee for Protection of Children's Rights, which I have the honour to head. This Committee both coordinates national activities in this area and is also involved in problem-solving situations. The National Centre for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, in its turn, carries out the monitoring of implementation of the legislation adopted in the area of the rights of the child.

In all regions of Latvia Centres for the Protection of the Rights of the Child or other experts are engaged of everyday implementation of children- related legislation. Committees on protection of the rights of the child are very actively engaged also at schools and the members of those are children themselves. The aim of these committees is to promote children's right to protection at schools, as well as to carry out preventive and educational work for ensuring the children's rights.

Accessibility and quality of education is an important contribution to the future of children. That builds the foundation for welfare and growth of personality. In the sphere of education Latvia has carried out significant reforms to ensure that children and teachers would work in a modern educational environment. We have also provided that children would be given opportunities to develop their special talents in sports, art, music and other areas. This so-called interest education is paid for by the state for each child. Latvia is ready to give its experience of development of education also to other countries of the world.

Being aware that the role of children and young people should essentially increase, I hope that the young people that take part in this Children's Forum and at the present session, will take back to Latvia new ideas, since children are a significant resource for the development of society in the entire world.

Mr. President,

I am convinced that for every child the UN is going to be a significant organization that commits a serious effort to increase children's welfare in the world and to promote children's rights in each country and place.

I thank you Mr. President!