First Lady Mrs. Mary Note
Head of Delegation
on the occasion of the Special Session of the General Assembly on Children
9 May 2002
Mr. Secretary-General, Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honor to address this important UN Special Session on Children. I bring you greetings from His Excellency President Kessai H. Note and the people of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
I join the speakers before me in thanking the Secretary-General, His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan, and the capable staff at UNICEF for the warm welcome and excellent arrangements made for this special and important session.
We offer our utmost congratulations to you, Mr. President, for your astute leadership in guiding this 27 th Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly. We have every confidence that under your able leadership, this Session will be most meaningful and productive.
The Republic of the Marshall Islands, being a member of this preeminent global organization has taken positive steps in pursuit of the goals set forth in the 1990 Declaration and Plan of Action for Children. In May 1991, our government established the National Nutrition and Children's Council and ratified the International Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1993. This Convention, therefore, is part of our laws and is regarded as complementary to the rights and freedom guaranteed to all Marshallese, including children, by our Constitution.
As a Small Island Developing State, the Republic of the Marshall Islands is grappling with its share of developmental challenges to provide a better future for our children and youth who make up more than 50 percent of our total population of 60,000 people.
Our educational system has undergone many developmental changes to be more in line with global trends to ensure that every Marshallese child has an opportunity to go to school, whether it be primary, secondary or tertiary. Our Government is committed to provide every Marshallese children with the highest quality education possible to enable them to be productive members of whichever society they may choose for themselves.
Similarly, our health system has already taken initial steps to place more emphasis on health as a shared responsibility involving communities and grassroots participation in primary health care and preventive health.
Our Parliament is currently deliberating legislations that will strengthen the rights of our children and further give effect to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Furthermore, we have established a Focal Point Office for Children in our Government with a mandate to coordinate and monitor all issues relating to children and to ensure that provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child are implemented at all levels of the government.
The Marshall Islands commends, with humble appreciation, the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the 19,90 Declaration and Plan of Action for Children. It is most gratifying to learn that great strides have been made in achieving the goals of the 1990 declaration. However, there remains a lot to be done.
We shall not be complacent. The Secretary-General's report indicates that children are the most vulnerable and helpless members of our global community. Millions of children have lost their lives to preventable diseases and hunger. Many do not have a chance to start with, while others suffer grueling pains and miseries. Millions more are deprived of the most basic human necessities to ensure their survival, while many others lack the necessary support, compassion, and love that every God-given precious child should have. Millions of children will go or will have gone to bed hungry right now as we speak.
I am confident that in our heart, we would all wish to see our children grow up in a peaceful world where every child is loved, nurtured, and protected; a world where children of all nations and diverse cultural backgrounds peacefully co-exist; where the institutions of humanity both public and otherwise serve to enhance the potential of every child to reach his or her full potential as God has created them.
The Republic of the Marshall Islands is committed to supporting all United Nations' initiatives designed to effectively improve the living conditions for all children the world over.
Let us challenge ourselves this day to bring about a new world of hope and opportunities for our children. Let us work together to build a better world for our children. Let us today, promise a better tomorrow for the precious children of every nation, every family, and every generation.
Thank you, Mr. President.