UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA
 
 

STATEMENT 

BY

HIS EXCELLENCY DR. ALI MOHAMED SHEIN,
VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA,

DELIVERED AT THE SPECIAL SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON CHILDREN

NEW YORK, 9th MAY, 2002


 


Mr. President,
I wish to extend to you and to the members of the Bureau, our sincere congratulations on your election to lead this special session of the General Assembly. Likewise, I warmly congratulate the Chairperson of the Preparatory Committee, Her Excellency Madame Patricia Durrant and her Bureau, for the hard work done in preparing for this session.

Mr. President,
His Excellency Benjamin William Mkapa, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, very much regrets that he could not attend this important conference because of exigencies of his Office. He, however, sends his best wishes for a successful conference.

Mr. President,
As a follow-up to the World Summit for Children, we held a National Summit in 1991 after which a National Plan of Action was adopted. We agreed then to reduce by half the 1990 rates of infant and maternal mortality, as well as that of children under 5, by the year 2000. We committed ourselves to increasing literacy and to making clean water and sanitation accessible to all. Indeed, in the first five years we recorded satisfactory progress. However, that success story was compromised by the scourge of HIV and AIDS.

Mr. President,
In Tanzania, children make up more than 54 percent of the population. In recognition of this fact, my government formulated policies and strategies to address the rising challenges to child development. The Tanzania Development Vision 2025, the Poverty Reduction Strategies and the Child Survival, Protection and Development Program were put in place. In addition, we have enacted legislation aimed at protecting children from exploitation and safeguarding their basic rights.

Concurrently, my government is in the process of ratifying the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and the Welfare of the Child.

Mr. President,
In my country, over 50 percent of households are unable to meet their basic needs. In such circumstances, poverty will define every aspect of the child's development. A child born in poverty wilt, in all probability, end up in poverty. In order, therefore, to realize a world fit for children, we have to break this cycle of poverty.

Mr. President,
Our work in this regard is constrained by the prevalence of HIV and AIDS which has proved to be one of the greatest threats to the fulfillment of children's rights. In my country, mother-to-child transmission affects about 80,000 newborn babies. Our challenge now is to mobilize the necessary resources and partnerships that are so crucial in dealing with the pandemic. My government, with the assistance of UNICEF and other development partners, has initiated the establishment of five mother-to-child transmission program sites. These aim at providing counseling, testing and treating pregnant mothers diagnosed with HIV and AIDS.

Mr. President,
To compound the situation, the predominance of conflicts in many countries has not spared children. In some cases, children have been drafted as child soldiers. Yet in others they have been forced into strange lands with their childhood interrupted and human rights violated. For these children, a world fit for them has yet to be created. Since peace is synonymous with development which enables children to develop, it is our responsibility to protect our children from the horrors of armed conflict.

Mr. President,
In many developing countries, the servicing of the external debt overshadows the provision of basic social services. Undoubtedly, in poor countries children are the hardest hit. My government has always advocated for sustainable debt financing as an important element of mobilizing resources. We greatly appreciate efforts by the international community to resolve the problem of unsustainable debt in the framework of enhanced HIPC initiative. Having reached the completion point, Tanzania is now channeling the resources that would have serviced the debt to priority sectors of education, health, water and rural roads.

Mr. President,
In conclusion, the African child foremost needs peace, education, good health and love. Indeed, all children, as was reaffirmed by the Children's Forum, demand to be given an opportunity to live their lives as children. That is their formative age which if wasted cannot be regained. It is ironical that at a time when the world has accumulated huge resources, today's children are crying for basic services. We owe it to our children to marshal the necessary political will to provide for their basic needs. We ought not fail them. The situation is urgent.

I thank you Mr. President.