HIS EXCELLENCY JOAQUIM
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF MOZAMBIQUE
BEFORE THE SPECIAL SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON CHILDREN
NEW YORK, 8 MAY, 2002
Allow me at the outset to congratulate you on your election to preside over this Special Session of the General Assembly on Children. I am confident that under your skilful guidance and outstanding experience our deliberations will be crowned with success.
May I also express a word of congratulations to H.E. Kofi Annan for
being re-conducted to the post of Secretary General of the United Nations
for a second term. I would like to assure him of Mozambique's support and
collaboration in the discharge of his noble task.
The terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., on September 11, are still fresh in our memories. These sad events forced us to postpone the Special Session on Children which was scheduled to take place last September and we are still having difficulties to explain to our children what happened and why. It is our common duty to spare the future generations from the scourge of international terrorism.
In 1990 we met to chart a global agenda for the wellbeing of our children. At that meeting we agreed on the centrality of children to our common future, and thus proclaimed that there can be no task nobler than giving a child a better future. To this end, we committed ourselves, through a set of specific and time-bound goals, to protect children and reduce their suffering, to promote the fullest development of the human potential of every child, and to make them aware of their needs, their rights and their opportunities.
As ten years have elapsed since that historic summit, we find it fitting to hold this Special Session of the General Assembly on Children to take stock of the progress made and difficulties encountered in the implementation of the World Declaration and Plan of Action of the World Summit for Children adopted in 1990, and to identify new effective measures, strategies and commitments to further the children's agenda.
The entire humanity has been making all the necessary efforts to implement the outcomes of the 1990 summit. However, the end-decade review provides us mixed results with real and tangible progress in some areas as well as setbacks in other areas.
We recognise with joy the real progress made by many countries in the
reduction of infant mortality, death caused by diarrhoeal diseases, child
immunisation, education, promotion and protection of the rights of the
child. However we express our concern over many of the survival and development
goals set by the summit, specially in the areas of health, nutrition and
education that remain to be accomplished. For this reason, delivering the
wellbeing of our children remains a major challenge that can only be met
by our collective action. The success of this Special Session will be judged
by our ability to adopt and implement an action oriented, time-bound and
effective international plan of action.
It is disconcerting to note that over 10 million children still die each year, often from readily preventable causes. An estimated 150 million children are malnourished, and over 100 million are still out of school, 60 percent of them girls. On the other hand, it is estimated that more than 300 thousand children under 18 are fighting as soldiers with governments and armed opposition forces in more than 30 countries worldwide.
However, we are encouraged by the political will shown by the world leaders at the Millennium Summit last year, in bringing the cause of children to the mainstream of the international agenda. We endorsed specific goals such as the reduction of maternal and under-five mortality, increases in primary school enrolment and the imperative of mounting effective worldwide campaigns against HIV/AIDS, malaria and other major infectious diseases. To meet the real needs of our children, this political commitment should be translated into deeds.
The adoption, at the African Conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers in Maputo in April 1999, of a resolution aimed at the elaboration of an International Convention outlawing the use of children under 18 years of age in armed conflicts, is also a good course of action for the protection and promotion of the rights of the Child.
Subsequently, the African countries met in Cairo where they adopted
an African common position on this Special Session. Once again, we reiterated
our commitment to the promotion and protection of the rights of the Child.
When we met in 1990, Mozambique was engulfed in a destructive war with painful consequences for children. The best achievement Mozambique made for children was to bring about peace in 1992 and preserve it until now. That is the peace, which enabled us to fulfil our commitments towards the implementation of the 1990 summit decisions.
Mozambique has already prepared and submitted a National End-Decade Review Report on the Implementation of the World Declaration on Survival, Protection and Development of Children. The report outlines the efforts carried out by the Government, in collaboration with the Mozambican society at large, as well as by the international community, aimed at improving the welfare of the children.
It is promising to note in the report that there were improvements in
many areas, such as education, health, nutrition, access to safe drinking
water and sanitation.
With regard to the health area the Government of Mozambique has directed its efforts towards fighting infant diseases through low cost medication and through the strengthening of primary health care and basic services. We successfully implemented a Five-Year Health Sector Policy (1995-1999), which prioritised the preservation and improvement of women and children's health, through maternal infant health programmes, as well as wide immunisation and school health programmes. The government has also undertaken actions to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, grant access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and control water-born diseases.
At the same time, and taking into account that adolescents are an important and delicate segment of our society, our Government has been developing projects aimed at supporting them in three areas, namely in policies and legislation, education for family life, and education for community life. We are giving special attention to questions related to adolescent sexual and reproductive health, as a way to ensure that the number of people infected with sexually transmitted diseases will decline instead of increasing.
Accordingly, the immunisation coverage in Mozambique was improved to
the point that in 1998 we reached 99% against Tuberculosis, 77% against
Polio/DPT III and 82% against Measles. On the other hand the cases of diarrhoea
among four-year-old children have reduced from 197.277 to 178.148 in the
With regard to nutrition, it is worth noting that the country has reached self-sufficiency in cereals since 1997. The expansion of cultivated areas, as a result of peace, relatively favourable rains, rehabilitation of transport and communication infrastructure and favourable market conditions, were the determinant factors for such improvements. This has contributed positively to the improvement of child nutrition.
We have also been engaged in expanding access to education for children, regardless of their gender and social status. We allocated an amount of public resources for the expansion of the school network and teacher training, particularly in the rural areas. The Government also established a special scholarship programme called "Caixa Escolar" to cover the costs of school materials, including uniforms, fees and meals for children from poor families. The implementation of these programmes has always taken into account the need to promote the advancement of the girl child.
On the other hand and with a view to promoting and protecting the rights of the child, Mozambique has ratified relevant international and regional legal frameworks, namely the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights of the Child. The ratification of these instruments and the incorporation of their main provisions into our national legal framework, illustrates our political will and commitment to the effective implementation of the World Declaration and Plan of Action of the World Summit for Children.
Recently, the Government and the Parliament of Mozambique have jointly
launched a "Child Parliament". At that gathering children representing
all provinces of Mozambique had the opportunity to express themselves on
the various problems affecting children and propose solutions to overcome
them. Most of the issues that we are raising reflect the problems, needs
and aspirations of the Mozambican children as presented by them in their
You may recall that Mozambique was affected by floods for two consecutive years (2000-2001). These natural disasters destroyed infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, roads, houses, forced people to abandon their lands and belongings, and children were the most affected.
During these natural disasters, children suffered from lack of family protection and care, food, clean water, education and health care. The actions undertaken by the Government, in collaboration with the Mozambican society at large, and the international community has reduced the negative impact of these catastrophes and ensured safe return of children to their families, while others were integrated in substitute families.
Allow me, on behalf of the Government of Mozambique and on my own behalf, to express our gratitude to all the countries and the international community in general for the solidarity and support accorded to us during those tragic and difficult moments of Mozambique's history, during which children were the most to suffer and perish. We were encouraged by the successful holding, in Maputo in July last year, of a Donors Conference to evaluate the impact of floods and bring an additional impetus to the reconstruction process underway.
Now, the reduction of poverty is our major concern, and the Government has approved a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) for 2001-2005, better known by PARPA, which includes the following components:
Rapid and sustainable economic growth favouring industry and construction sector, particularly in rural areas;
Priority for public investment in human capital development, namely education, health and access to water and sanitation;
Increasing productivity of the family sector in agriculture; Development of economic infrastructure in the rural areas; Social protection of the most vulnerable groups through programs for social security;
Promotion of job opportunities and self-employment;
Institutional and technical capacity building in areas of monitoring and assessing poverty, policy analysis and research to gain better understanding of poverty and identify the best strategies for fighting it.
Education and health are on the top of our PRSP because we need to reduce inequities and respect the rights of every citizen, particularly children.
Before I conclude, I would like to highlight the importance of the Groundbreaking Report on the Impact of Armed Conflicts on Children produced by Mrs. Graca Machel. We are happy to note that most of the recommendations contained in the report are being implemented, including the establishment of Ambassador Otunnu's office which has done a commendable job.
My delegation supports the adoption of the outcome document "A World
Fit for Children" submitted to this Special Session and call for its effective
implementation internationally and at the country level.