President Vicente Fox Quesada

The United Nations General
Assembly Special Session on Children

New York
9 May 2002

Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations;
Ms. Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund;

Ladies and Gentlemen, Heads of State and Government:

Slightly more than ten years ago, Mexico promoted the World Summit for Children. Since then, the world has undergone profound changes.

Globalization has posed complex challenges for nations and, at the same time, provided an opportunity that we m ust take advantage of in order to improve the condition of children.

In response to these circumstances, as political leaders and citizens of the twenty-first century, we should create formulas that will enable us to overcome poverty with full respect for freedom, the dignity of human beings and the protection of their rights.

There is no question that the best investment that countries can make to advocate truly sustained and sustainable development is to guarantee equal opportunities for girls and boys. The future of our countries depends not only on equality of opportunity, but also on continuously increasing the capacities of our boys and girls. By meeting their basic needs and expanding their spaces for freedom, we create the conditions for forming responsible adults and better citizens.

Mexico has come to this forum with very good results. Society and government have jointly made significant progress in improving the lives of children. Of the 26 goals applicable to Mexico that the countries participating in the 1990 World Summit proposed, Mexico has achieved 20. Progress was unsatisfactory in one of them, and we are still evaluating the other five.

Although the results are significant, in Mexico, as in other nations, there is still much to be done to ensure conditions that will encourage children's development.

The pending issues are diverse, although poverty is unquestionably the main obstacle to overcome, since millions of boys and girls, as well as their families, are trapped in situations of poverty.

Mexico has advanced in its economic, political and demographic transitions. The challenge is to advance the social transition even further, with a view to building a more just, inclusive and equitable society in a framework of joint responsibility on the part of all.

To face the challenges posed by this transition, we are working on a comprehensive strategy that we have called "Contigo" (Together). The strategy is based o n f our lines of action: capacity building; expansion of productive options; accumulation of assets; and strengthening of social protection networks.

We have put into operation childcare activities. We have also focused on providing food supplements to ward off the malnutrition that afflicts indigenous girls and boys; advocating early education with the active participation of parents; as well as granting scholarships to encourage boys, girls and adolescents to continue their studies in schools.

All these activities result in the well-being of our girls and boys, who are the heart of our families. We believe that protecting children involves supporting mothers and fathers.

Childcare i s a social imperative. Thus, in Mexico, we already have a law for the protection of the rights of girls, boys and adolescents.

We are also advancing in the consolidation of the National Council for Children and Adolescents, in order to provide a governing body for all policies aimed at children.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I urge you to guarantee universal access to education and to have children remain in school offering quality educational services.

I call on you to provide more and better nurseries and childcare centers available to all social sectors.

Let us strengthen our health systems to decisively face the health challenges that reduce our children's lives, spirit and hopes.

Let us confront addictions that endanger children's and adolescents' development possibilities and harm families and the social fabric of our communities.

I urge you to protect children from physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Let us undertake decisive action to prevent and eradicate child abuse and violence against children.

We must prevent the economic exploitation of girls and boys and their becoming victims of armed conflicts and the trafficking of persons.

I call on you to protect the rights of children whose parents participate in migratory movements in conditions that frequently endanger their development and their very survival.

Let us contribute to strengthening communication between parents and children and to ensuring that boys and girls grow up in a secure, stable and loving family environment.

In solving the urgent issues that afflict children, I urge you not to wait another decade and, instead, to assume today the commitment to mobilize conscience, will and resources to benefit those who represent the future of our nations.

As the great poet, Gabriela Mistral, said, "We are guilty of many errors and many omissions. But our worst crime is the abandonment of children. Many of the things that we need can wait. Children cannot. Its name is Today"

Thank you for your attention.