His Excellency Major-General
to The Twenty-seventh Special Session of the General Assembly on Children
10 May 2002 New York
At the outset my delegation would like to extend our congratulations to you on your election as President of the 27th Special Session of the General Assembly on Children. We believe that under your able leadership this session will produce concrete results that will benefit our cherished children.
The international community has made important achievements since the World Summit for Children in 1990. The near universal Convention on the Rights of the Child has galvanized the world community to make more efforts in the interests of children. It can be observed that concerted efforts are being made worldwide to promote and protect the rights of the child and to achieve the goals we had set in 1996 for the children.
We believe that the current session will provide us with an opportunity to take stock of what has been achieved concerning the goals of the World Summit for Children and to formulate future programmes for the promotion and protection of the rights of the child.
The rights of the child have been given top priority in the global agenda since the World Summit for Children. The same is true with our national agenda. The Government of Myanmar is giving top priority to the children traditionally as well as legally. Since our accession to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we have laid down and implemented programmes at the national level for the well-being and interests of children. On 14 July 1993, two years after the accession, we promulgated the Child Law. In September 1993, we formed a National Committee on the Rights of the Child to effectively and successfully implement the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Child Law.
Furthermore, Committees on the Rights of the Child have been formed at State/Division, District and Township levels respectively to implement the Convention and the Child Law all over the country. In 1996 we submitted our first National Report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the second National Report was submitted to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in March 2002. On 21 December 2001 the Child Rules relating to the Child Law was issued to implement the Child Law. Furthermore, brochures, posters, pamphlets, handouts, calendars and information sheets related to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Child Law of Myanmar were published and distributed. The Child Law was also translated into languages of six national races for distribution. Training courses and workshops were also conducted to enhance public awareness.
In Myanmar's culture, children are valued as "treasures" and they are loved and nurtured with special care and attention. It has been a time honoured tradition that Myanmar families place emphasis on the all-round development of children to ensure their protection, upbringing and development. As Myanmar family is an extended type, children in a Myanmar family are nurtured not only by their parents, grandparents and relatives, but also by their respective communities.
Let me apprise this august Assembly of our national efforts for the realization of the rights of the child, I wish to stress, first of all, that in Myanmar, children are given equal opportunities irrespective of sex, race and religion. For instance, in the basic education sector, 50.1 per cent of the student population are boys, while 49.9 per cent are girls. In the health sector, children have access to equal medical treatments, services and facilities at hospitals and clinics regardless of gender.
We have formulated the National Programme of Action and the National Health Plan (1996-2001) and have implemented them for the survival, protection and development of children. We are making every effort to promote the health care of children, relying on our own resources, and in cooperation with both local and international organizations. At present, National Health Plan (2001-2006) for the health and nutrition of children and environmental sanitation has been drawn up and is being implemented. A nation-wide programme in cooperation with UNICEF is also being carried out. As a result, remarkable progress has been made throughout the country, including the far-flung border areas. In addition, steps have been taken to improve the basic health of pregnant mothers, to produce persons trained in midwifery and to improve the health care and nutrition of children under five years of age. As a result of these measures, the mortality rates of infants and children under five years of age have declined.
The other measures which we have taken to improve the children's health include immunization programmes. We launched the Immunization Programme for children under one year of age in 1978 and the Polio Eradication Programme in 1990. Since 1996 "National Immunization Day" has been designated and immunization has been successfully carried out as a mass movement throughout the country. Extensive immunization programmes also cover remote border areas. As a result, 84 per cent of all children under five years of age have been immunized with polio vaccine. In 2000, the national immunization activities covered 90 per cent of all children under one year of age. We have also made other achievements. According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey for 2000, the percentage of household level iodized salt consumption has increased to 79.8 per cent and the drinking of safe water has increased to 67.2 per cent in the entire country. Under the yearly "National Sanitation Week Activities", national level utilization of sanitary latrines has reached 86.6 per cent of the entire country.
In the education sector, with a view to promoting all-round development of children under 5 years of age, the Government and the public have established Centre-based and School-based pre-primary schools. To ensure that the majority of the children have full access to pre-primary education and care, the Department of Social Welfare and the Department of Basic Education are expanding the Community-based, Family-based and Home-based activities in collaboration with UNICEF. Under the Myanmar UNICEF Cooperation Programme for 2001-2005, steps are being taken for the all-round development of children at primary school level in townships designated under Area Focus Townships Approach.
The Government is making every effort to ensure that children enjoy the right to basic primary education, and to reduce untimely drop-out rate. In the formal education sector, we have created opportunities for children to have access to basic primary education. Through non-formal education, adult-literacy rate has now reached 91.4 per cent. We have also undertaken Education For All (EFA) activities. To fully implement the EFA activities, we have drawn up projects and are implementing them in collaboration with UNICEF, UNDP, and UNESCO. These projects include the Continuous Assessment and Progression System (CAPS) and the All Children In School (ACTS) project which are aimed at ensuring regular attendance, and at increasing the primary school enrollment through provision of assistance and support for the needy and poor students. At present, primary school enrollment rate stands at 92.05 per cent.
We are also taking measures for the health and social rehabilitation of disabled children under the school-based and community-based rehabilitation programmes. In addition to Government Agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations are also taking part in these programmes with the support of the Government.
In its effort to prevent children from sexual exploitation and abuse, the National Committee on the Rights of the Child is closely cooperating with the Myanmar National Committee for Women's Affairs concerning trafficking in women and children. In this respect, we are also cooperating actively with other countries in the Mekhong region and the ASEAN region concerning transnational trafficking in persons, in particular, women and children. We also have legal provision to prevent recruitment of children for use in armed conflict. Under Regulation for the Persons Subject to the Defence Services Act which was issued on 8 April 1974 by the War Office Council instruction 13/73, a person cannot be enlisted into armed forces unless he has attained the age of 18. In order to prevent drug abuse among children, effective measures have been taken through launching of educational programmes all over the country. At the same time, under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Law, those offenders who make use of children to commit the offence relating to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances shall be liable to maximum punishment provided for such offence.
Future generations belong to the children of today. It is imperative to help them in their development so that they will grow into fully capable human beings and be able to enjoy the full range of their rights in this rapidly globalizing world. It is, therefore, incumbent on all of us to bequeath to children a peaceful and developed world where they would have a secure and enabling environment to develop their individual capacities. In the past decade, we have achieved significant results. We need to continue our current efforts to have similar results in the future as well.
Let me stress that Myanmar is committed to the full realization of the rights of the children in a sustained manner. The achievements Myanmar have made reflect our firm commitment.
In conclusion, I wish to reaffirm Myanmar's commitment to making every effort for the promotion and protection of the rights of the children. I assure you that we will work together towards that goal with added momentum.