PAPUA NEW GUINEA
 
 

STATEMENT

TO THE 27TH UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL SESSION

OF THE  GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON CHILDREN

SIR JOHN KAPUTIN, KBE, MP
SPECIAL ENVOY OF THE PRIME MINISTER

TO THE  UNITED NATIONS
SPECIAL SESSION ON CHILDREN

 NEW YORK, 10 MAY 2002


 

MR PRESIDENT,

YOUR EXCELLENCIES THE HEADS OF STATE, GOVERNMENT AND MISSIONS ATTENDING THIS VERY IMPORTANT MEETING,

DISTINGUISHED DELEGATES,

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

PAPUA NEW GUINEA IS PLEASED TO TAKE PART IN THIS SPECIAL SESSION.

MY DELEGATION IS WARMLY APPRECIATIVE OF THE EXCELLENT PREPARATIONS.

UNFORTUNATELY, THE NEED TO DELAY THIS MEETING MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR MY PRIME MINISTER, HON. SIR MEKERE MORAUTA, TO BE HERE IN PERSON.

HIS REQUEST THAT I REPRESENT HIM AS HEAD OF THE PAPUA NEW GUINEA DELEGATION DEMONSTRATES THE IMPORTANCE THAT HE, THE GOVERNMENT, AND THE REST OF THE NATION ATTACH TO THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD - AND THE CHALLENGE OF MAKING OUR WORLD FIT FOR CHILDREN.

INTRODUCTION

TODAY'S CHILDREN ARE HUMANITY'S FUTURE.

CHILDREN ARE BOTH THE LEGACY - AND THE INHERITORS - OF SUCCESSIVE GENERATIONS.

IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA, ALMOST HALF OF THE POPULATION IS AGED LESS THAN 18.

CHILDREN ARE, THEREFORE, A SUBSTANTIAL AND SIGNIFICANT PART OF THE SOCIETY IN WHICH WE LIVE.

IN MAKING AND IMPLEMENTING THE INTERNATIONALCONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD, THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY HAS ACCEPTED NOT ONLY THAT CHILDREN HAVE RIGHTS BUT THAT ADULTS HAVE OBLIGATIONS TOWARDS SUCCEEDING GENERATIONS.

THE IDEA UNDERLYING THE CONVENTION - AND THE OCCASION - IS NOT NEW.

IT IS RECOGNISED IN THE NATIONAL GOALS AND DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES WHICH FORM PART OF OUR CONSTITUTION.

THEY COMMIT THE ENTIRE NATION TO VALUES, WHICH HAVE IMMEDIATE IMPLICATIONS FOR CHILDREN'S RIGHTS.

THEY INCLUDE INTEGRAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, EQUALITY AND PARTICIPATION, AS WELL AS RECOGNISING THAT PAPUA NEW GUINEA'S RICH NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT ARE HELD IN TRUST FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS.

OUR NATIONAL CONSTITUTION ESTABLISHES A COMPREHENSIVE HUMAN RIGHTS REGIME WHICH GUARANTEES THE EQUALITY OF CITIZENS.

IT ALSO COMMITS THE NATION TO CERTAIN BASIC SOCIAL OBLIGATIONS, INCLUDING THE DUTY OF PARENTS TO SUPPORT, ASSIST AND EDUCATE THEIR CHILDREN.

THUS, MANY PROVISIONS OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD ARE ALREADY CONSTITUTIONALLY GUARANTEED IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA.

MOREOVER, THE CONSTITUTION NOT ONLY RECOGNISES HUMAN RIGHTS.

IT ESTABLISHES MACHINERY, INCLUDING INDEPENDENT COURTS, TO GIVE THEM PRACTICAL EFFECT.

THE INSTITUTIONS SET UP TO HELP ENFORCE CITIZENS' RIGHTS ARE PROTECTED AGAINST POLITICAL INTERFERENCE.

OUR SYSTEM IS, OBVIOUSLY, NOT PERFECT.

THE OFFICES IT ESTABLISHES COULD GENERALLY DO WITH MORE FUNDS AND PERSONNEL.

BUT PAPUA NEW GUINEA WAS CLEARLY COMMITTED TO RESPECT AND PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS, INCLUDING CHILDREN'S RIGHTS, EVEN BEFORE THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD WAS MADE.

IMPLEMENTATION OF SPECIFIC COMMITMENTS IN THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
 

MR PRESIDENT,

NEITHER THE GENERAL THRUST NOR MANY SPECIFIC PROVISIONS OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD ARE NEW.

WHILE MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE TO INFORM THE COMMUNITY OF THEIR RIGHTS - AND TO ENSURE EFFECTIVE ENFORCEMENT - MANY KEY ELEMENTS HAVE APPLIED IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA SINCE INDEPENDENCE (IN 1975).

ADDITIONAL MEASURES TO IMPLEMENT THE CONVENTION HAVE BEEN TAKEN SINCE.

THEY INCLUDE THE RECENT, COMPREHENSIVE AMENDMENT OF LAWS PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL ABUSE, INCLUDING PROSTITUION AND VIOLENCE.

THE NEW LAW CLEARLY ALIGNS PAPUA NEW GUINEA LAW WITH THE OPTIONAL PROTOCOL OUTLAWING THE SALE OF CHILDREN, CHILD PROSTITUTION AND CHILD PORNOGRAPHY.

THIS PARTICULAR PROTOCOL, TOGETHER WITH THE OPTIONAL PROTOCOL ON THE INVOLVEMENT OF CHILDREN IN ARMED CONFLICT, ARE CURRENTLY UNDER ACTIVE CONSIDERATION - WITH A VIEW TO THEIR EARLY, FORMAL ACCEPTANCE.

BUT RATHER THAN DETAIL THE VARIOUS MEASURES PAPUA NEW GUINEA HAS TAKEN TO IMPLEMENT THE CONVENTION, LET ME REMIND THIS DISTINGUISHED ASSEMBLY OF A CRITICALLY IMPORTANT POINT WHICH APPEARS IN THE PREAMBLE TO THE OPTIONAL PROTOCOL ON THE SALE OF CHILDREN, CHILD PROSTITUTION AND THE CHILD PORNOGRAPHY AND RUNS THROUGH THE CONVENTION AS A WHOLE.

IT CONCERNS THE NEED TO TAKE A HOLISTIC APPROACH.

IN THIS RESPECT - PROVIDING A COMPREHENSIVE AND INTEGRATED APPROACH TOWARDS THE NATION'S PROBLEMS, IN WHICH CHILDREN'S RIGHTS ARE SAFEGUARDED, ADVANCED, AND, ABOVE ALL, GIVEN SUBSTANCE - PAPUA NEW GUINEA HAS A GREAT DEAL TO REPORT.

RECONSTRUCTION, DEVELOPMENT AND CHILDREN'S RIGHTS

WHEN THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT CAME TO OFFICE ALMOST THREE YEARS AGO, THE PRIME MINISTER COMMITTED US TO FIVE MAIN OBJECTIVES.

THEY ARE TO RESTORE THE INTEGRITY OF STATE INSTITUTIONS; STABILISE OUR NATIONAL CURRENCY, AND THE NATIONAL BUDGET; REMOVE OBSTACLES TO INVESTMENT AND GROWTH; AND FURTHER THE PEACE PROCESS FOLLOWING THE CONFLICT THAT AFFECTED BOUGAINVILLE BETWEEN 1989 AND 1997.

TOGETHER, THESE OBJECTIVES PROVIDE THE FRAMEWORK FOR A HOLISTIC APPROACH TOWARDS DEALING WITH SERIOUS ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND POLITICAL PROBLEMS, INCLUDING THE RIGHTS AND WELFARE OF CHILDREN.
THE MORAUTA GOVERNMENT HAS INITIATED - AND IS NOW FOLLOWING THROUGH ON - A WIDE-RANGING AND THOROUGH STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT PROGRAMME TO GIVE THEM EFFECT.

THE MAKING AND MANAGEMENT OF THIS PROGRAMME INVOLVE ONGOING DIALOGUE WITH THE FRIENDS OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA, AND THEIR ACTIVE SUPPORT.
IN ADDITION TO THE WORLD BANK, THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND, AND THE ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK, THESE FRIENDS INCLUDE AUSTRALIA, THE EUROPEAN UNION, JAPAN, NEW ZEALAND AND THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA.

WHILE WE STILL HAVE SOME DISTANCE TO GO IN IMPLEMENTING ALL OF THE STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT PROGRAMME, PROGRESS TO DATE IS GOOD.

IT PROVIDES A PRACTICAL FRAMEWORK FOR FURTHER PROTECTING AND PROMOTING CHILDREN'S RIGHTS IN WAYS THAT ACHIEVE SIGNIFICANT, LASTING RESULTS.

KEY ELEMENTS INCLUDE CREATING AN ECONOMIC AND FISCAL ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH PEOPLE CAN PURSUE THEIR OWN WELFARE - AND GOVERNMENT CAN PROVIDE WHERE GOVERNMENT SHOULD, WITH PROPER REGARD FOR DECENTRALISATION.

NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS INCLUDE APPLICATION OF FISCAL REFORMS AND BUDGETARY DISCIPLINE WHICH HAVE ENABLED INCREASED OUTLAYS ON HEALTH AND EDUCATION BOTH IN REAL TERMS AND AS A PROPORTION - NOW, ALMOST A QUARTER - OF OVER-ALL GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURE.

BEGINNING THIS YEAR, THE GOVERNMENT HAS BROUGHT SCHOOL EDUCATION WITHIN THE ECONOMIC REACH OF EVERY PAPUA NEW GUINEAN FAMILY, REGARDLESS OF INCOME OR WEALTH, BY PROVIDING THE SUBSIDIES WHICH MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR PUPILS TO ATTEND FREE.

OTHER ACHIEVEMENTS INCLUDE IMPLMENTATION OF PUBLIC SECTOR AND FINANCIAL REFORM PROGRAMMES.

THEY ARE HELPING TO FOCUS AND STREAMLINE GOVERNMENT ACTIVITIES; ACHIEVE SAVINGS; AND IMPROVE OPPORTUNITIES FOR PRIVATE ENTERPRISE TO PARTICIPATE MORE ACTIVELY IN DEVELOPMENT.

THE GOVERNMENT'S FIFTH OBJECTIVE, FURTHERING THE BOUGAINVILLE PEACE PROCESS, HAS LED TO THE SIGNING OF A COMPREHENSIVE BOUGAINVILLE PEACE AGREEMENT ON 30 AUGUST 2001.

THE NATIONAL PARLIAMENT HAS SINCE VOTED TO HELP IMPLEMENT THE AGREEMENT BY ADDING A NEW PART TO THE CONSTITUTION AND MAKING A NEW ORGANIC LAW ON PEACE-BUILDING IN BOUGAINVILLE.

THE NEW LEGISLATION, WHICH PROVIDES FOR AUTONOMY AND A GUARANTEED REFERENDUM ON BOUGAINVILLE'S POLITICAL FUTURE, WILL BECOME OPERATIONAL WHEN WEAPONS DISPOSAL HAS PROGRESSED TO THE STAGE WHERE THE GUNS IN BOUGAINVILLE ARE PUT AWAY IN SECURE, DOUBLE-LOCKED CONTAINERS - SUBJECT TO SUPERVISION AND WITH ONE OF THE KEYS HELD BY THE UNITED NATIONS OBSERVER MISSION IN BOUGAINVILLE, PAPUA NEW GUINEA.

THUS, THE UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL, THE SECRETARIAT AND SPECIALISED AGENCIES ARE HELPING TO CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH THE KINDS OF ISSUES COVERED BY THE SECOND OPTIONAL PROTOCOL - DEALING WITH SITUATIONS OF ARMED CONFLICT - WILL NO LONGER BE RELEVANT IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA.

THE NEUTRAL, REGIONAL PEACE MONITORING GROUP - CONSISTING OF UNARMED PERSONNEL FROM AUSTRALIA, FIJI, NEW ZEALAND, AND VANUATU - IS PROVIDING VERY VALUABLE SUPPORT.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA LOOKS TO OUR DEVELOPMENT CO-OPERATION PARTNERS FOR CONTINUING ASSISTANCE IN RESTORING NORMALCY IN BOUGAINVILLE.

CONCLUSION
.

MR PRESIDENT,

PROPER PROTECTION AND PROMOTION OF CHILDREN'S RIGHTS CALLS FOR A HOLISTIC APPROACH.

SO DOES THE CHALLENGE OF CREATING AND MAINTAINING AN ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH THE REST OF SOCIETY REGARDS YOUNG PEOPLE AS WORTHY SUCCESSORS - NOT DROP-OUTS, PUSH-OUTS, OR FAILURES.

THE TWO CHALLENGES ARE VERY CLOSELY RELATED.

BOTH MUST BE MET.

PROGRESS IS MOST LIKELY THROUGH A COMPREHENSIVE AND INTEGRATED APPROACH.

WHILE PAPUA NEW GUINEA HAS NOT ACHIEVED ALL THAT WE MIGHT HOPE, THE FOUNDATIONS AND MUCH OF THE FRAMEWORK OF ONE OF THE NATIONAL BUILDING-BLOCKS TOWARDS A WORLD FIT FOR CHILDREN ARE ALREADY IN PLACE.

MY DELEGATION, THEREFORE WELCOMES AND SUPPORTS THE WORK OF THIS SPECIAL SESSION ON CHILDREN.
 

THANK YOU.