NEW York, 8 -10 MAY 2002

Mr. President,

My delegation feels most privileged to participate in this important Special Session, which aims at creating a World Fit for all Children.

We congratulate you Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, Madame Executive Director of UNICEF, and the entire UN system with the valuable preparations and documents in regard to this Special Session. We would also like to commend the Bureau of the Preparatory Committee for its tireless efforts to prepare the Outcome Document for this Special Session.

Mr. President,

With the 1990 World Summit on Children, the United Nations focused attention on the situation of the world's children. In committing ourselves to the goals set at that summit, we promised to improve the well being of our children. And when we ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we reaffirmed that we would protect the human rights and well being of our children.

More than a decade has since passed.

In close cooperation with community-based groups, UNICEF and other international and regional organizations, Suriname has made great strides in achieving the goals set forth at the 1990 World Summit, despite political, structural and financial constraints that slowed down our social and economic development in the 1990s.

There have indeed been changes for the better for children. We have assessed national legislation, and we are in the lengthy process of amending laws that do not conform with the Child Rights Convention.

For example, Suriname's National Assembly adopted legislation to eliminate discrimination of children born out of wedlock in 2000.

Vaccination coverage has improved these past years, the national maternal mortality rate has decreased, and much effort is put into the prevention of child diseases and malnutrition.

Education has always been a priority in Suriname, and to ensure the right to education for all, the Government puts great emphasis on mobilizing more resources to invest in the education sector.

Substance abuse prevention and treatment programs are being provided to young persons, while life skills programs inform children of health-risk issues and aim to equip them with the skills necessary to make healthy choices.

Children have also been involved in exercising their right to participate. In 1999, a youth congress was held in Suriname, which led to the installation of the National Youth Council, whose task is to advise the Government on child-related issues.

A situational analysis of children was conducted, as well as a child labor study. And the results show that important progress has been achieved.

But, as long as there are still children deprived of basic social services, basic health care and basic education, and as long as they suffer abuse and exploitation, we cannot and will not be satisfied.

Among the greatest obstacles we will all have to overcome in promoting and protecting the rights of children are POVERTY, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, MALARIA and WAR.

Children are hardest hit by poverty. The eradication of poverty must, therefore, remain one of the priorities of our development efforts, if we are to create a world in which our children will have a future. The Millennium Summit has provided us with a useful strategic framework in this regard.

Urgent action is needed, if we are to halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015, another of our Millennium Development Goals. It will require comprehensive and concerted action by us all and many more resources than are now available.

The same applies to combating diseases like malaria. In Suriname, this disease has re-emerged as a major cause of morbidity and mortality for the people who live in the well-promoted, pristine rainforests that cover most of my country.

Let us ensure that the best interest of children remains of primary importance when we adhere to the principles of democracy, equality, non-discrimination, peace and social justice.

Let us not hesitate to take action to make the world a more peaceful place for our children. Let us take the bold steps needed to achieve a world that is indeed fit for children.

For, when we adults look at the statistics of the families of our generations, we will realize that we are among the survivors: we survived the adversities of the world in which we grew up.

Let us commit ourselves to create a world in which our children can all be survivors.