New York, 8 May 2002

Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary-General, Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is, indeed, a great honor and privilege for me to address this special session of the United Nations General Assembly on Children on behalf of the Government and the National Children's Council of Mongolia. As a young nation with children under 18 making up over a half of its population, Mongolia attaches primary importance to this special session to inspire the vision, commitment and leadership that is needed to fulfill the promise of a better future for every child at the dawn of the 20 century.

As seen from the Secretary-General's report solemnly entitled "We, the Children" the end-decade review of the follow-up to the World Summit for Children reveals a picture of mixed results, both achievements and setbacks. It is gratifying to note that significant progress has been registered towards achieving a number of important Summit goals. They include substantial reduction of under-five mortality rates, high and sustained levels of child immunization, increase in school enrolment rates of children and in the adult literacy rates as well as heightened awareness of child rights issues across the world. All in all, issues relevant to children are being placed higher on national and global agendas.

Mr. President,

Yet, much more needs to be done to effectively address both the persistent and evolving threats to the survival and development of children. It is absolutely unacceptable that at a time of unprecedented global prosperity and opportunity 600 million children struggle to survive on $1 a day, over 10 million children still die each year, often from readily preventive causes, 170 million children are still malnourished and nearly 120 million of them have never seen the inside of a school.

To redress this depressing situation, the world needs to generously invest in children. Through investing in our children, in their health and education, we can make it possible to effectively attack chronic poverty by breaking its vicious circle within a single generation. Through investing in basic social services, including the 20/20 initiative, we can save more precious lives and prepare our children from their early childhood years to become productive citizens. Through investing in children we will honor our moral imperative of creating a world fit for children. One of the important lessons learnt from the past decade is that lack of success in some important areas was largely due to insufficient investment in children. That is why this special session, including the interactive roundtables of world leaders, one of which I have the privilege to co-chair this afternoon, is called upon to renew our unreserved commitment to put children first and to achieve that through action-oriented and time-bound follow-up measures.

Out of the priority areas of action I wish to highlight one related to providing quality education. It goes without saying that education is a key factor in creating a world where people can develop their full potential and lead productive lives. Thus the need of ensuring that all children have access to primary education that is free, compulsory and of good quality. In this regard, I wish to emphasize, inter alia, the importance of the United Nations Literacy Decade, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly at its 56th session last December, which represents a major global initiative to meet our renewed commitment to Education for All.

Creation of a world fit for children requires genuine partnerships between all the stakeholders: parents, Governments, Parliaments, NGOs, the civil society, the private sector, mass media as well as regional and international organizations. What is also important is active participation of children themselves in shaping the world they will inherit.

Mr. President,

Looking back at the national implementation of the Summit goals, it is gratifying to note that despite the enormous economic difficulties and constraints of the ongoing transition period, Mongolia has been able to achieve the national targets of reducing infant and under-five mortality rates, substantially reduce the number of school drop-outs, improve the child immunization coverage and develop a rights-based approach in dealing with issues relevant to children. The Government of Mongolia places children high on its overall agenda of ensuring human security and human development. It has increased its investment in the social sector, including its infrastructure and basic social services through shouldering the cost of dormitories, providing free schooling supplies to children from poor and large families in secondary schools, extending scholarships to higher educational institutions for children from poor families and herders as well as for families with three or more student children. Thus, we have been able to improve the quality of education, increase the number of secondary schools and enrolment rates and foster educational opportunities for children, especially for the poor and vulnerable.

But we still face daunting challenges to ensure sustained growth and sustainable development, to substantially reduce poverty and unemployment as well as to effectively address and prevent hitherto hidden problems related to street children, juvenile offences, alcohol and tobacco abuse and emerging transboundary threats like child trafficking and spread of STDs and HIV/AIDS. In our efforts to ensure the well-being of children we have been cooperating closely with international organizations, including UNICEF, foundations like GAVI, SOROS, NGOs like Save the Children and other bilateral and international partners.

In conclusion, Mr. President, I wish to reaffirm that my Government will spare no effort to implement the goals and objectives envisioned in the Declaration and Plan of Action in close and active partnership with fellow members and regional and international organizations.

Thank you for your attention.