by H.E. Jan Kavan, President of the Fifty-seventh Session of
the United Nations General Assembly
20 November 2002
year, on 20th November, we celebrate the Universal Children's
Day. Children are the hope of mankind. They are the continuity
of human species. They are our most precious resource and our
future. Children are extremely vulnerable. Children are born
as totally dependent beings needing special protection and help
of the society in order to develop fully. They particularly
need to be protected from degrading living conditions, from
violence, from prostitution, from trafficking, from involvement
in armed conflicts, from child labour and other abuses.
the basic human rights conventions guarantee fundamental rights
and freedoms to everyone, adults and children, without any distinction.
Recognition of equal status of children as individuals in enjoying
their fundamental rights and freedoms is vital. I particularly
welcome the fact that 191 Member States have ratified the Convention
on the Rights of the Child. This Convention reflects consensus
amongst all nations that it is important to guarantee fundamental
rights and freedoms to children. I concur with Mrs. Mary Robinson,
the former High Commissioner for Human Rights, when she stated
that "The adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the
Child in 1989 reflected the international consensus on a new
vision of children - no longer as mere objects of protection
who have "needs", but human beings who enjoy rights."
years ago, at the World Summit for Children, world leaders made
a joint commitment and issued an urgent, universal appeal to
give every child a better future. Since then, much progress
has been made, as documented in the report of the Secretary-General
entitled "We the Children". However much remains to
be done, many obstacles to be overcome, particularly in developing
May 2002, United Nations General Assembly Special Session on
Children was unprecedented in bringing together one of the largest
meetings of Heads of State and delegations, NGOs and child advocates
to the United Nations who dedicated themselves to children and
adolescents of the world. Children and young people themselves
participated in this event at the United Nations and requested
to create "A world fit for them." The General Assembly
adopted the document entitled " A World Fit For Children"
which defined the goals, strategies and actions to improve the
lives of children.
urge all Member States and other actors involved with children
to accord their priority to the needs of children. We all share
the responsibility for our children. Let us do our best to guarantee
a better future for them.