H. E. Fradique De Menezes
President of Sao Tome and Principe

at the 
Specical Session of the 
United Nations General Assembly on Children

New York
10 May 2002

Your Excellency, Mr. President of the General Assembly,
Illustrious Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On addressing this so illustrious Forum, I would like to fist greet everyone present and hope that this meeting leads us to take sensible decisions with a view to preparing a better future for our children.

In 1990 when the Government proclaimed the Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children, and in sequence adopted a Plan of Action for the application of said declaration, a chance was offered to us to start a process that could lead to a true change in the life of those, as one poet said, are "the best of the world".

Those days, the way in which, duels a large part of humanity, our children,
lived on the fringe  , summoned us to take a firm stand with a view to change,
placing a priority on children.

Today, more than a decade has passed since that summit took place in 1990. We are once again summoned, this time to take an inventory, and more than that, to confront ourselves with the present situation of children at beginning of this new century.

From 1990 to the present date, the world has known progress without precedents in terms of the capacity of accomplishment of mankind, in terms of the affirmation of the potentialities of human beings.

Because of new information and communication technology, we are almost instantly aware of everything that goes on around the world, and there is a tendency of other people's causes becoming our own causes.

Flagrant images that speak of our incapacity to completely fulfill the Plan of Action concluded at the World Summit on Children, carried out in 1990, are multiplied before our eyes daily.

Despite efforts undertaken by many countries in order to fulfill the objectives established then, there is no doubt that a lot remains to be done in order that we may one day be proud of having contributed to a better life for the children ensuring them acceptable survival conditions, and sufficient protection to ensure full development.

Mr. President

The persistence of army's conflicts and instability in many places of the world especially in poor countries with fragile economy and the serious humanitarian situation resulted from a great number of refugees have created a blockage to the successful execution of actions tending to improve children's well-being.

It's necessary to increase peace, keeping missions and appeal to the dialogue for the well-being, security and protection of children. It's time to eliminate all acts of violence, exploitation and children's abuse forever.

We are delighted with the end of Angola army conflict. Surely the peace and the country's resources will bring opportunities for economic growth and human development.

Likewise, we support all the United Nations initiatives as well as other international organizations to establish peace and stability in the world.

Mr. President
Ladies and gentlemen

My country Sao Tome and Principe has been working in favor of children but we are aware that we have a long way to go in order to meet the goals of the International summit and other forums, where children's issues were discussed in particular the World Summit for Education for all that took place in Join Tiem 1990.

Some actions developed in the country by government agencies and traditional partners like UNICEF, UNCF, UNDP as NGO, Churches and civil society have contributed for the well being of our children as shown in recent data.

In reality, although small, there's some improvement registered in the area of infant and mother's mortality due to the positive fight to eradicate the malaria and also the existence of immunization program at the national level.

The education system developed several actions in order to recuperate children who dropped school to become street children, especially with alphabetization for teenager girls.

The impact of the structural adjustment program has produced negative effects at the social level and despite of the external financial aids it still very difficult to satisfy the basic needs of the population.

The diagnostic of the population life conditions confirms that 46% live in poverty from which 35% is extremely poor.

It's important to point out that the most vulnerable group is the one of women, particularly women being head of the family. Generally they are very poor and still have to support their children and elderly. In Sao Tome and Principe women support one third of the families.

In face of this situation we challenge ourselves to have a more dynamic and determinant attitude to purge those problems from our society.

Issues related to food security, public health, clean water, electricity, endemic diseases as DST,VIH, and AIDS, children's access to education and permanence in school, illiteracy and all other aspects considered in the Plan of Action deserve our strongest commitment not only shown by words but also by taking specific actions.

Concerted actions to establish a global program for children's development cannot be successful if the needs of the family and the community are not taking in consideration.

Under these circumstances the government cannot just rely on their own institutional capacity to create and execute programs to cope with children's problems but find collaboration from several sectors not only at national, but also regional and international levels.

On the other hand, it's important to reinforce the existent partnership and establish new ones.

Before finish I would like to assure you Mr. President and all members' states that my country, Sao Tome and Principe, will continue to deep its efforts in order to improve the children's situation and carry out our commitment to reach out all aspects of the Plan of Action.