THE HONOURABLE MRS.
GIRLYN MIGUEL, MY
MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, CO-OPERATIVES,
THE FAMILY, GENDER AND ECCLESIASTICAL AFFAIRS
ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
THE TWENTY SEVENTH
OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON CHILDREN
NEW YORK. MAY 10, 2002
Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is my privilege to represent the Government and people (and most especially the children) of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines at this Special Session on Children.
Mr. President, in order for children to inhabit a world fit for them, we the adults must provide them with the basic necessities for a productive and rewarding life. It goes without saying that these include nutrition, health and education. As a body, we must leave this session having made a disciplined effort to identify the structural and constitutional changes necessary to provide the reforms for the achievement of our goals. On the international level, we need the creation of sound practical laws and other institutions to uphold the rights of the child. At domestic level, we need to re-examine our laws, our social structures and our attitudes to ensure that we create a framework in which our children can not just exist - but thrive and excel.
Mr. President, we are aware of the horrifying statistics of children at war. These figures bring shame not only to those who use children as weapons of war but also to us all. We are also painfully aware of the ten million children who die every year from preventable diseases. Once again this statistic produces universal shame and should hopefully bring renewed conviction for action to those countries who have the wherewithal to provide the medicines, clean water and other essentials to ensure that our children survive.
The three International Conferences of the United Nations this year all have a direct and fundamental bearing on the welfare of our children. The Monterrey Conference on "Financing for Development" will, if its noble goals are implemented, reduce the level of world poverty in a significant way thus ensuring that the world becomes a healthier and happier place for children. This conference now nearing its conclusion, will define what is necessary for the provision of a world fit for children. The next Conference, in Johannesburg, will deal with environmental issues and seek to reverse or limit some of the damage that we have done to the physical world which we bequeath to the children.
I hope you will forgive me if I concentrate
on the progress that we have made in our tiny country in caring for and
providing for our children.
Notwithstanding our limited resources, we ensure that children have access to health-care through a system of Island wide rural health clinics. We are concentrating fiercely on our educational system and it is our hope and our promise that free education will be available to all our children up to school-leaving age within the next decade.
We are doing our utmost to create an environment that will attract foreign investment that, in conjunction with local industry and agriculture, will provide employment opportunities for our children. In order to achieve our goals, we need help - help from our age old partners, like the churches who play a pivotal role in our educational system and from new, creative and committed global entities. It is essential for us to be part of the global economy and, only by creating the favourable conditions for trade and investment will we succeed in this. We need the prosperous countries of the world to live up to their commitment to provide help to the poorer countries of the world.
Mr. President, it grieves me that one of my country's principal benefactors and friends, the Republic of China on Taiwan, is once again excluded from a global conference. Do not the millions of Taiwanese children have the same basic rights as those in the rest of the world?
Mr. President, during the course
of this conference, we have heard millions of words spoken, seemingly sincere,
about what needs to be done for our children to live in a fit world. Let
us hope that these words were not just words and that we will all leave
here enriched, inspired and ennobled in our commitment to create a better
world for our children. Let those of us who use our children to wage war
find it in our hearts to stop. Let those of us who abuse our children -
whether we are parents, clergy or strangers -stop. Let us hear the voices
of our children and heed their words and remember that of all time, only
the future is ours to desecrate. Let us ensure that we see the future clearly
and we take urgent steps to protect our world and our children from future
Mr. President, let me conclude by
thanking all those instrumental in organising this wonderful and pivotal
event. It has been an honour for me to be here. I thank you.