Mrs. Valentyna DOVZHENKO
Head of the Delegation,
Head of the State Committee of Ukraine
for Family and Youth Affairs,

at the

Plenary Meeting of the UNGA  Special Session on Children

(New York, May 9, 2002)

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The holding of the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Children, which is a logical continuation of the World Summit for Children of 1990, is viewed in Ukraine as an event of historic significance. An unordinary increase in public attention to the issue of improvement of the status of children, that reached its peak during the preparatory process to the Special Session, is an important testimony thereto.

Over a million Ukrainian citizens - adults and children, joined the worldwide campaign "Say YES to children". Personally taking part in it, President of Ukraine L.D.Kuchma put forward a proposal to reduce the world arms expenditure by 10% and to direct funds, that would be released, for the needs of education, health and environment protection and combating poverty. The realization of such proposal, which is consonant with the thought, expressed in the UN Secretary?General's report, would become a concrete manifestation of our care for the future of children.

Care for the young generation is a subject of special attention of Ukrainian State. Just a month after proclaiming state independence, in September 1991, Ukraine by one of its first legislative acts ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Today, internal preparatory process is underway for the ratification of the two Optional Protocols to the Convention, which were signed by the President of Ukraine during the Millennium Summit.

The Law of Ukraine "On Protection of Childhood", which was adopted last year, defined this sphere as strategic national priority. A number of comprehensive national programs aimed at ensuring legal and social protection of children and at creating conditions for their all-round development are being implemented in Ukraine.

Despite the considerable progress made in the implementation of these programs, Ukraine continues to be confronted with the difficulties connected, in the first place, with the challenging and long-term process of social transformation.

We are particularly concerned about the children's health in the context of the consequences of the Chornobyl  tragedy. One million and two hundred thousand children, or every tenth child, have been affected by the accident. Today, sixteen years after the catastrophe, we continue to feel its consequences. Sixty per cent of thyroid cancer cases among children were diagnosed on the territories affected by the accident. General morbidity among children has increased threefold.

Ukraine, which was fated to unfold before the world the horrors of a technological catastrophe of unprecedented scale, can not solve all the problems brought by the disaster on its own. United efforts of the international community are needed for overcoming the longstanding consequences of the Chornobyl accident and for ensuring the survival and development of new generations. Ukraine, on its part, demonstrated resolve to prevent the recurrence of such tragedies in the future by voluntary renouncing its third world's largest nuclear military arsenal and by fully decommissioning the Chornobyl  nuclear power plant.
That is why the provision of the draft Final Document which underlines the need for protecting children from man-made disasters is very important to my country.

We are grateful to the world community for the assistance, which is provided today. In particular, I would like to mention fruitful cooperation of Ukrainian governmental and nongovernmental organizations with UNICEF, which has been supporting a range of special programs. We also appreciate the assistance rendered by the UN Development Program, the World Health Organization, governments of donor countries as well as international charity funds.

At the same time, Ukraine needs further assistance of the world community in the implementation of the special program of medical and social rehabilitation of children, who suffer from the consequences of the Chornobyl  disaster.

The issues of child suffering from the consequences of natural and man-made disasters are being addressed in the draft Final Document "World fit for children" along with the problems of violence, exploitation, discrimination and armed conflicts. Since the World Summit, the issue of protection of children in armed conflicts has acquired especial significance and became permanent on the Security Council's agenda. Ukraine actively advocates the need for giving priority significance to the issues of protection of children in the peacekeeping efforts of the world community. We fully share the view expressed at the last meeting of the Security Council as to the need of inclusion into the mandates of peacekeeping operations of provisions for the protection of children, with particular attention to the special needs of girls.

No less alarming is the situation, when children suffer as a result of strict economic sanctions introduced by the United Nations. In this connection Ukraine, like a number of other states, calls upon for the creation of all appropriate conditions for rendering immediate humanitarian assistance to the civil population, in the first turn to children.

In conclusion, I would like to express our conviction, that consolidating the efforts of the world community on securing favorable conditions for children's development in the whole world would be the best guarantee of achieving this goal.

I would like to avail of the opportunity to express particular gratitude to the UN SecretaryGeneral Kofi  Annan the Executive Director of UNICEF Carol Bellami  and all those who contributed to the organization and conduct of this important forum.

Thank you for your attention