Prime Minister

27th United Nations General Assembly
Special Session on Children

New York, 9 May 2002

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Mr President,
Dear Children,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all I would like to express my appreciation and support to the United Nations and Unicef for organising this important event. A meeting of children, non-governmental and governmental representatives from all over the world means an opportunity to assess what has been achieved in the decade since the World Summit for Children. At the same time it also represents an opportunity for us together to commit ourselves to achieving the goals that will ensure a better life for all children.

All too many children lack the conditions for survival, growth and personal development. Such children are to be found all over the world, and their situation demands special attention. A better life needs to be secured not only for children in developing countries who, like the society around them, are struggling against poverty and its attendant phenomena. We must also improve the position of those children who, although they live in the developed world, are deprived of the well-being otherwise enjoyed in their societies because they have been marginalised. We can only achieve these goals in partnership and solidarity, both within countries and between them.

Mr President,

Slovenia is founding its development on the recognition of the importance of social solidarity, embodied in a welfare state, to ensure equal opportunities for children. We acknowledge the importance of investing in children's development, and so we provide education and primary health care free of charge. Furthermore, we ensure the social and economic security of children through various forms of social assistance. We are especially proud of the fact that we provide one-year of paid maternity and parental leave in order to give a child a good start in life. And for a number of years we have been increasing the share of national wealth allocated to children so as to ensure for all children the opportunity to develop and realise their potential.
But despite efforts to ensure equal opportunities for all children in a systemic fashion there are still groups which remain at the margin. Non-governmental organisations and the entire civil society play an important role in preventing the social exclusion of these children. We are increasingly seeking possibilities for resolving these problems in cooperation with them. We firmly believe that a comprehensive implementation of children's rights requires the cooperation of all elements of a society. The development of a partnership for a World Fit for Children is therefore one of the key tasks for us all.

Mr President,

What applies to partnership and solidarity within societies applies equally to partnership and solidarity in the international community. Poor countries will only be able to escape the vicious circle of poverty through investment in the comprehensive development of children. And without a doubt this requires developmental aid from the more advanced countries and from international government and non-governmental organisations. Unicef and the other specialized UN agencies play an important role in the realisation of these goals. The Unicef committee operating in Slovenia is successfully promoting the values of international solidarity. This is reflected in the fact that the per capita contribution made through the national committee by Slovenian individuals and companies to Unicef aid programs for children all over the world is among the highest.

Children who have been affected by armed conflict need special help and solidarity. Without the appropriate help the consequences will be felt by all humanity, which the international community cannot allow. Through specific projects Slovenia is endeavouring to help children in South-East Europe who have been affected by the conflicts of the last ten years. It established an International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance, whose activities over a period of four years have made it the leading mine clearance agency in South-East Europe. An equally important part of its program of activities is rehabilitation assistance to mine victims, which has provided treatment for a large number of children. A second project being carried out by the Slovenian government in close cooperation with the non-governmental sector is the setting up of a Regional Center for the Psychosocial Well-being of Children, "Together". Through this resource center Slovenia wants to contribute its share to assisting in the psychological well-being and improving the mental health of children affected by armed conflicts.

Mr President,

No country can achieve long-term stability and prosperity if it does not ensure the opportunity for the survival, growth and personal development to its children. In an age of increasing global interdependence the failure to ensure fundamental rights and developmental opportunities for children in one country can have a negative impact not only on the development of that country but also on the stability of other parts of the world. This is another reason why it is important that, through our joint forces and taking into consideration children's opinions, we commit ourselves to the full implementation of children's rights and to the building of a World Fit for Children.

Let us join together then, and move forward in partnership and hope in order to achieve a world worthy of its children.