New York May 9th, 2002

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

On behalf of the Republic of San Marino, I wish to offer my congratulations on the organisation of this world event. Its historical character and relevance are all the more evident after the tragic terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Taking into consideration the consequent threats to world peace and the recent worsening of the Middle East crisis, a renewed commitment to protect children must go hand in hand with the priority objective of creating, all over the world, the necessary conditions for peaceful coexistence.

Ten years ago, in this very place, an unprecedented meeting was organised and the Heads of State and Government from all Countries of the world were invited to discuss the responsibilities of the international community towards children, so as to promote their sound growth and development, fully respecting the fundamental rights of each person. The Declaration and the Plan of Action resulting from the 1990 World Summit envisaged an ambitious but possible programme to be implemented in the ten following years.

At the same time, an overwhelming number of Countries was signing and ratifying the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, a major step forward in the legal framework for the protection of children's rights.

As mentioned in the UNICEF document "A world fit for children" of January 2001, and on the basis of the experience gained in promoting the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, our common action should aim at three major goals:

-    To garantee children a good start in life, in a safe environment that enables them to be physically healthy, mentally alert, emotionally secure, socially competent and able to learn;

-    To give children the possibility to complete primary education of good quality;

-    To grant adolescents the opportunity to fully develop their individual capacities in a safe environment, so as to be able to participate in and contribute  to their societies

In this context, the Republic of San Marino has allocated considerable resources to adequately safeguard newborns through services directed to pregnant women and children in their first years of life. Moreover, it has thoroughly upgraded its school system, so that almost 100 percent of young boys and girls continue their studies until the age of 18. And now, in order to properly develop their potentialities, San Marino has embarked on a school reform aimed at guaranteeing an individual approach.

This historical event offers us the opportunity to assess the progress made so far in the fulfilment of the commitments undertaken ten years ago and to set new goals to ensure a better future for all children of the world, also in consideration of new emergencies, serious violations and the condition of thousands of children deprived of a dignified life.

My Country is launching an appeal to the international community for the promotion of a common civil and humanitarian conscience, of a culture of peace, as well as of a sound and balanced development of society, so that children be a primary consideration in the internal debate of every nation, thus overcoming the many obstacles which still hinder the full implementation of programmes.

As stated in the UNICEF document of January 2001, "(... ) Education is crucial to the prevention of violence and the promotion of a peaceful solution of conflicts." Therefore, "(... ) all boys and girls must have access to a free, compulsory and quality primary education."

I would like to mention here San Marino's view of the fundamental principles of education on the basis of our past experience:

-    In the education process, children must always be considered as "human beings", bearing in mind that their personal identity always reflects their relations with others;

-    For this reason, in order to grow in harmony, children need the presence of adults, first of all of their parents, who can guide and lay the foundations of their education process;

-    Therefore, as fundamental unit responsible for the protection, upbringing and development of children, the family plays a major role in the educational process.

In consideration of the above, a global approach, where family is at the centre of our concerns, is necessary now more than ever.

In this regard, I believe that this is the right place to reflect on the fact that, besides the right of the child to education, it is fundamental to create those conditions which enable parents to fulfil their educational tasks.

In developing countries, indeed, the family must be put at the centre of our efforts if we want to eradicate chronic poverty, the biggest obstacle to meeting primary needs, protecting and promoting the rights of the child. Similarly, also in the so-called industrialised countries, the family must be the starting point to break the vicious cycle of aggression, violence and abuse against minors, unacceptable violations for a community based on the principles of freedom, tolerance and peaceful coexistence.

The fundamental responsibility of the family in the education of minors derives from its inherent capacity to "take care" of the child in all its dimensions and, consequently, of the manifest and latent, material and spiritual needs influencing its growth and development.

In implementing effective national laws, policies and programmes aimed at promoting and safeguarding the rights and the well-being of children, countries must comply with the international instruments adopted, also in the spirit of what agreed upon during recent UN Conferences, in particular the Millennium Summit. The objectives and strategies of this Summit are indeed useful guidelines for the development of an international framework to foster the well-being of the child.

The Republic of San Marino has made numerous and constant efforts through a comprehensive and effective awareness campaign, also thanks to its National Committee for UNICEF, and the importance of participating in the decision-making process is a commonly held opinion. This requires the participation of Governments and Parliaments, through the allocation of resources and investments in favour of disadvantaged children and the adoption of the necessary legislation; the participation of Non-Governmental Organisations and local organisations primarily committed to safeguarding the rights of the child, which may contribute to the effective implementation of national strategies and objectives; the participation of the private sector, which may facilitate the allocation of resources destined to children; the participation of the media to arise public awareness to children's needs and, last but not least, the participation of children in the creation of the world they will inherit through freedom of expression and opinion.

In the light of the above, I wish to reiterate that my Government will consider all child-related issues on a priority basis and that all different groups of San Marino population active in this field will do their utmost to achieve the future objectives resulting from this Special Session, prompted by the conviction that each and every Country, according to humanitarian and solidarity principles, shall bear the responsibility for the creation of the human family.

All Countries having ratified the International Convention on the Rights of the Child are called upon to respect all children's rights recognised by this multilateral instrument, on the basis of their resources, and have the legal and moral obligation to accept the principle of the best interest of the child, most of all where this interest is damaged or violated.

Fortunately, it seems that the most favoured nations are becoming more aware of their responsibility in the fight against global poverty, one of the major causes of the recurrent violations of the fundamental rights of the child.

Praiseworthy is the long-lasting campaign carried out in the 80's and 90's by Non-Governmental Organisations, religious associations and international organisations with a view to arise awareness of Countries and of the international financial institutions to adopt rapid and efficient measures on the very serious problem of debt.

In particular, tribute must be paid to the "heroism" - and I believe this is the right word - demonstrated by the Jubilee 2000 Coalition, which drew the attention on the serious, dramatic and tangible issue of debt relief and which has already produced some positive results.

Much more time would be necessary to examine these problems in detail, also in consideration of the fact that, besides the solemn commitments undertaken, much has still to be done to create a culture where children are at the centre of our concerns. However, what Governments, associations and individuals do everyday gives us the courage not to turn our back on suffering children.

In the hope that this Special Session may provide a further important impetus to the objectives of peace and social justice, I wish to stress, on behalf of the Government of San Marino, that my Country intends to be on the side of children, as a fundamental sine qua non condition of a civilised society.