|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
16th & 17th Meetings (AM & PM)
Credibility of States ‘Rested in Their Work for Future Generations’; Children
Must Be Protected, Nurtured, Encouraged to Participate, Third Committee Told
Hears from Some 55 More Speakers, as Three-Day Debate
on Promotion, Protection of the Rights of the Child Concludes
Capping its three-day discussion on the promotion and protection of the rights of the child, members of the Third Committee (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian) discussed national programmes to nurture young citizens, saying the credibility of States “rested in their work for future generations”.
On the final day of its discussion on children’s rights, many speakers alluded to the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the General Assembly, which would take place in November, saying it was an opportunity to review areas still needing progress.
For some States, that included finding novelways to promote child participation in politics and society. In Tunisia, 2008 was the year of dialogue with youth, a speaker from that country said. His Government had worked to create hearing rooms in schools and the institutions, which guided and integrated children into society. In Argentina, interventions by public, State and private intervention in the promotion and protection of their rights was guided by the views of children and adolescents, said the speaker, who drew a link between children’s participation and a “strengthened citizenship”.
Uruguay’s representative said the Committee’s annual resolution on the rights of the child, in the midst of being drafted by a large group of co‑sponsors, would focus on the right of participation of children. A number of those co-sponsors were from Latin American and the Caribbean countries, and Uruguay itself had held dialogues with 4,000 boys and girls to seek their views on proposals for the national 20-year strategy.
The representative of Slovakia, whose country was also a supporter of that resolution, observed that giving voice to children did not exempt the adult international community from action in areas involving children. On the contrary, giving voice to children called for a heightened responsibility for adult decision-makers “to listen and to hear”.
He also explained that, in December, a working group of the Human Rights Council was due to meet in Geneva to discuss a new Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which would provide a communications procedure to hear complaints of rights abuse. “The ultimate target [of the initiative] was to listen to children and respect them,” he said, adding that Slovakia had been responsible for introducing the Council resolution on establishing that working group.
The representative of the Inter-Parliamentary Union raised the question of how to ensure that parliaments adequately represented children, those whose voices were often not heard or listened to in society. For five years, the Inter‑Parliamentary Union had worked with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to support parliaments to enable children to live free from violence. This year, its attention was focused on Latin America, where child-protection laws were inadequate in many instances and abuse within families accounted for the deaths of 80,000 children under 18 years of age.
He said that, at a three-day meeting in Costa Rica, participants discussed ways to supervise institutions responsible for prevention policies, and ways to supervise the appropriate use of resources.
The representative of Bangladesh said his Government would once again be sponsoring the annual resolution on the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World, 2001-2010. He said his Government was encouraged by the child-protection policy directive for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. As the second largest troop-contributing country, it was also happy to note that each peacekeeping mission would now have a child-protection adviser.
Also speaking were the representatives of Swaziland, Peru, Ukraine, Zambia, Singapore, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Yemen, Nigeria, India, Monaco, Guyana, Niger, Israel, Egypt, Netherlands, Mongolia, Congo, Bhutan, Mozambique, United Arab Emirates, Montenegro, Serbia, Maldives, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Bahrain, Togo, Nepal, Kenya, Nicaragua, Burkina Faso, Azerbaijan, Oman, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Eritrea, Pakistan, Morocco, Philippines, Haiti and Mauritania.
Representatives of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine also delivered a statement, as did representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
The representatives of Georgia, Russian Federation, Armenia and Azerbaijan spoke in the exercise of the rights of reply.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 19 October, to begin its consideration of indigenous issues.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to conclude its discussion on the rights of children (for further details, please see Press Release GA/SHC/3951).
PETUNIA LINDIWE MNDEBELE ( Swaziland), aligning her statement with that of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said the Government was working to reduce the vulnerability of its children through the national poverty reduction strategy. A localized version of the “world fit for children” programme had been in place since 2005. Through that project, the Government had hoped to pioneer measures to support orphans and vulnerable children through a system of extended family care -- a reflection of traditional Swazi culture. The project was also in line with the Government’s decentralization policy.
She explained that the dramatic increase in orphans and vulnerable children, due to poverty and HIV/AIDS, had overwhelmed the capacity of extended families to care for those children. In addition, a large number of child-headed households had begun to emerge. The Government had begun working through the national emergency response council on HIV/AIDS to create neighbourhood care points, to distribute emergency food in areas affected by drought and food insecurity, using community-based initiatives founded on traditional Swazi practices. Other areas of attention included education, violence against children, sexual offences against children, and human trafficking. For example, the Government also had an initiative to educate and sensitize communities about children’s rights, and children were provided the opportunity to report abuse at the community level. She thanked the country’s development partners for their support with regard to Swaziland’s child-related initiatives.
CARMEN ARIAS OTAROLA (Peru), associating her delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Rio Group, said children had to be guaranteed the right to a name and, thus, identity. Peru’s national registry had developed an intercultural approach to address the indigenous communities, making it possible to approach these communities. To account for its diversity, Peru had developed a national strategy that took its broad differences into account. Major strides in the area of health care had been made, including in infant mortality, due to the increasing coverage in rural health services. Still, the global picture for children remained disturbing. Diarrhoea and pneumonia, which were preventable, were responsible for a large proportion of children’s deaths worldwide. This was not only morally unjustifiable, it was politically unacceptable. To this end, Peru was promoting the fight against non-infectious diseases.
She said the report “State of Children in Peru 2008” indicated that one area where the country had made the most progress was in primary education coverage. Nevertheless, there was work to be done to prevent drop-outs, among other things. The national education plan aimed to address the social realities of the society and to guarantee education for all. One priority was in strengthening the bilingual programme, and resources were needed in that area. Peru was also fighting malnutrition, and the Government planned to reduce malnutrition by 9 per cent by 2011. Children also needed an environment free from violence and, to this end, she welcomed the appointment of Marta Santos Pais as Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children. She further noted the Twentieth Pan-American Congress for Boys, Girls, and Adolescents, which aimed to promote the design of children-centred policies, was held in September. Concluding, she stressed that the credibility of the States rested in their work for future generations.
OLHA KAVUN ( Ukraine ) began by expressing the importance of close cooperation between the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, civil society and governments, in order to promote and protect the rights of children. Policies and strategies to achieve this goal should include specific purposeful measures to reduce poverty, unemployment, gender discrimination, combat HIV/AIDS, resolve armed conflicts and achieve progress in education and health, as well as foster social protection and integration.
Turning to the issue of the rights of the child, she urged full and effective implementation of the obligations undertaken by States, in particular under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Despite difficult economic challenges, Ukraine paid attention to the promotion of the rights of children, considering the work to ensure better protection as a matter of national strategic priority. Ukraine continued the trend of previous years on harmonizing national legislation with the provisions of the international instruments it had ratified. She said that the number of orphans and children deprived of parental care remained large. Therefore, the year 2008 had been proclaimed by the President of Ukraine as a year of national adoption, which increased the number of children adopted by Ukrainian citizens arranged in foster families and family-type homes. In 2008, the citizens of Ukraine adopted 2066 orphans and children that were lacking of parental care, which was the highest number since 2000.
Despite progress, much more needed to be done to address the problems of children, in particular the acute health consequences of the Chernobyl disaster and the spread of HIV/AIDS. A particularly worrying problem was the trafficking of children, many whom were forced into child prostitution and pornography. Ukraine called for continuous improvement of national, regional and international efforts and mechanisms for their effective countering and welcomed the initiative of developing the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the introduction of appeals procedures and supported a consensus resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council to establish an appropriate working group. With regards to the Chernobyl disaster, almost 2 million children had been identified as victims of the tragic accident. She said that, “Now, 23 years after the catastrophe, my country continues to face its consequences. 60 per cent of thyroid cancer cases were diagnosed among those children who lived in the affected territories. Particular attention needs to be paid to ensure that these children receive adequate treatment and achieve full development.”
ANNA MUBUKWANU SIBANZE (Zambia), aligning herself with the statement by SADC, began by expressing her Government’s commitment to the various resolutions and instruments connected to the rights of the child, and announced that it was now seeking to become party to the two Optional Protocols of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Zambia was currently undergoing constitutional reform, which among other things, would provide better protection and promotion of human rights for all, including children. In terms of child health, 74 per cent of children were fully immunized, but malaria and HIV/AIDS continued to pose problems for children’s health. The prevention of mother-child transmission was a key focus, as well as early infant diagnosis of HIV/AIDS. Pregnant women and children under five years of age received free insecticide-treated nets and were exempt from user fees for health services.
In terms of education, she said the Government had provided free basic education since 2001, and was hoping to extend that policy to secondary schools. It was working on new guidelines for the integration of children with disabilities into the mainstream education system, and was taking steps to design school infrastructure to account for the needs of such children. To support girls’ education, the Government had a “re-entry policy” at all levels that allowed pregnant girls to return to school after delivering their babies. As for measures to protect children against violence, exploitation and abuse, the Government had enacted an anti-human trafficking act, which gave children special protection. An information communications technology act would criminalize “the downloading of pornography of any kind”. The anti-domestic violence bill was aimed at eliminating domestic violence, including against children, and provided civil remedies and shelters for victims. For children found on the streets, the Zambian National Service had established skills training camps in activities like carpentry, shoe making, automotive mechanics and agriculture. Also, vulnerable children could make use of social-safety net programmes, such as the social‑cash‑transfer scheme and child‑grant schemes.
CHAN YING YIN ( Singapore) said that by developing its children today, his country believed a better tomorrow would be secured. Since independence, it had progressively been improving its social systems to give its children a good start. Child mortality rates had been lowered to 2.1 per 1,000 live births and a high proportion of children were immunized against infectious diseases, with more than 95 per cent vaccinated against tuberculosis and hepatitis B. Through its Compulsory Education Act, all children received a strong foundation for future learning through six yeas of primary education. Nearly all students completed 10 years of education and more than 90 per cent of each cohort progressed to post‑secondary education. To complement their educations, children needed a healthy and nurturing environment at home. Families should play the main role in directing and guiding their children, and families that needed assistance were supported by community-development councils and family-service centres and other social organizations.
He said Singapore spared no effort in supporting the development of its teaching force. Moreover, schools had developed a holistic health framework to ensure the mental, social and physical health of their students. Every school was staffed with a full-time counsellor and all students were strongly encouraged to participate in co-curricular activities at all levels, including sports. Singapore had hosted the first Asian Youth Games from 29 June to 7 July and was honoured to have been selected as the host country for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games scheduled for August 2010. In that context, Singapore had started an initiative called Friends@YOG, in which all Singapore schools would be paired with two schools from the home country of each of the 205 National Olympic Committees. Singapore was honoured that its education system had received high rankings from the Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010, the 2007 McKinsey Report and the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study.
FESSEHA A. TESSEMA ( Ethiopia) said young people made up a majority of the population of his country. In the 1990s, the country had the worst malnutrition and basic health systems in the world. Less than a third of the children were going to school. Over time, the Government began integrating the Millennium Development Goals into its poverty-reduction strategy, with new child-focused health and education policies. Health centres were set up in rural areas to conduct outreach to the poor and to train health professionals. As a result, the proportion of children immunization against all major childhood diseases had increased from 22 per cent in 1999/2000 to 53 per cent in 2006/2007. Infant mortality also fell, and the proportion of the population with access to clean water had more than doubled, from 19 per cent in the 1990s to 59 per cent by 2007. The number of children in school had quadrupled, and many more of the poor were currently attending school, placing Ethiopia in a good position to achieve universal education by 2015.
In the case of children in especially difficult circumstances, such as HIV/AIDS orphans, he said the Government collaborated with non-governmental organizations to provide basic health-care, education and protection services. With the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), it was providing skills training to youth. Through a separate programme, it was extending credit to youth and their parents. For children of minority groups, the Government had set up schools in the local vernacular. To encourage attendance among pastoral communities living in the most remote areas, it had set up school feeding programmes. In terms of children with disabilities, it was undertaking public sensitization campaigns. Also, children under detention were not detained with adults, but contained in community-based correctional facilities that focused on providing educational support. But, international cooperation was important in bolstering the efforts of countries such as his own.
JORGE VALERO ( Venezuela) said poverty, inequality and social exclusion affected children around the world. To combat those challenges, the full and effective implementation of children’s human rights was needed. In Venezuela, respect for the rights of boys and girls was part of State policy and the National Council for the Rights of Boys, Girls and Adolescents functioned as the central protector for those rights. A full array of plans, programmes and social missions implemented the social development goals in this area. Among other initiatives, the Government had implemented the socialist programme “Boys and Girls of the Barrio” since 2008, which had developed many programmes to provide health care, shelters, and community-protection centres. All those who were subject to exploitation, abuse, and other forms of violence received support. Further, Venezuela’s school system guaranteed universal education and also provided food and nutritional programmes in schools. A bilingual programme also promoted indigenous language.
He said a new education law that was adopted two months ago allowed children to develop critical thinking in the social and political realms and drew from the new humanist- and socialist-production model. Venezuela’s social programmes were already having a good impact, in particular on girls, boys and adolescents. Indeed, all Millennium Development Goals would be attained before the deadline. Moreover, Venezuela was at the forefront in the fight for justice and equality in Latin America and the Caribbean, as was evidenced in the recent reports of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.
WAHEED AL-SHAMI ( Yemen) remarked that children’s issues had become an important part of the international agenda, as reflected in the number of conventions, conferences and studies that existed on children. War, hunger, disease, illiteracy and exploitation were among the ongoing challenges faced by children in achieving their full rights, made worse by the financial, food and fuel crises and other difficulties. To improve the situation, States must step up their national and international efforts. He was pleased that the United Nations now had a Special Representative on Violence against Children.
He said Yemen had been one of the first to adopt the Convention on Child Rights and its Optional Protocols. It had also adopted the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions on a minimum working age and the worst forms of child labour, and had integrated their provisions into national law. The Yemeni Constitution guaranteed the rights of the child through special laws, overseen by Government machinery that included a Motherhood Council, a Ministry of Human Rights and dedicated departments and offices within various other ministries. It also had a national strategy for the child and adolescents. In view of the importance of child participation, Yemen had a child’s parliament, attended at times by Government ministers. He praised UNICEF for its assistance to Yemen, and expressed hoped that such assistance would continue, or even be stepped up. Regarding the suffering of children under Israeli occupation, which he condemned, he called on the international community to do its part to put an end to that occupation.
RAFF BUKUN-OLU WOLE ONEMOLA ( Nigeria) reaffirmed his Government’s belief that the future of mankind depended on the support and nurturing of children. In Nigeria, children’s welfare was protected by the Child’s Rights Act, which domesticated international norms into national law. Mechanisms to implement this law had been put in place, including in State courts. Since incidents of disease had increased the number of orphans, national guidelines for supporting these children had been put in place. Institutional analysis had been conducted in 2008 to generate data to formulate plans, including the development of intervention materials and psychological-support programmes for HIV positive children, among other things. Regrettably, girls still accounted for more than half of the out-of-school child population. Nigeria’s universal education plan, literacy- and skill-attainment programmes were allowing girls to secure the education they needed. To give voice to the Nigerian child, children’s parliaments had also been set up at the State and national level.
He underlined Nigeria’s adoption of a maternal- and child-health strategy to reduce mortality. Breast-feeding and hand-washing campaigns had been launched. Nigeria’s First Lady was working to influence public awareness of children’s rights and health. The challenges of violence and other forms of abuse had a direct relationship with the number of children involved in drug abuse, violence and prostitution, among other harmful and destructive activities. Thus, a draft action plan on violence against children was currently being formulated. Further, the International Organization for Migration had set up shelters in Lagos for child labourers and children who were separated from their families for a variety of reasons. Thanking Nigeria’s development partners for their support, he called for continued assistance in the area of funding and capacity-building.
SHRI CHINTA MOHAN, Member of Parliament of India, noted that the United Nations Secretary-General mentioned in his report that 9 million children under one year of age were dying, 75 million did not have access to education and 200 million were handicapped due to malnutrition and lack of health care. Although official development assistance (ODA) had increased last year, there was a shortfall in what was needed. For its part, India had eliminated tetanus in children and pregnant women in some parts of the country, and efforts aimed for full eradication of polio, tuberculosis and diphtheria. Under its Integrated Child Development Scheme, nutritious meals were currently provided to 34 million children and 7 million pregnant women. Through the National Rural Health Mission hospital, delivery was encouraged for all pregnant women and after delivery, financial assistance was given to needy women. Further, $100 million had been earmarked to build world-class children’s hospitals.
Through the efforts of Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the India’s United Progressive Alliance, midday meals were being given to 140 million children every day in schools, he said. It provided a high-protein diet, with fish and eggs twice a week. Moreover, the Right to Education Act had been enacted to provide free and compulsory education of all children under 14 years of age. An Act of Parliament also banned child labour and violence against children. Overall, India sought to provide all the welfare measures required to protect children’s rights, from the first day of life in the womb through age 14 years.
ISABELLE PICCO ( Monaco) said, in situations of armed conflict, prevention remained the principal tool in combating the recruitment of child soldiers, and efforts to support the Special Representative of the Secretary-General were needed. It was also crucial to ensure education to children, even during emergencies. Further, stakeholders should be involved in the field, as the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict was doing. Children’s issues also had to be mainstreamed in all parts of the United Nations system and its work and polices. The directive developed by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations was one example of what should be done. Security Council resolution 1882 (2009) was another important milestone and broke the silence on a taboo. Monaco intended to not only condemn sexual violence against girls, but also against boys, which might be less obvious. Nevertheless, its dangers had been recognized in the Special Representative’s report, particularly in camps for internally displaced persons.
She stressed that those people who were responsible for this sexual violence against children had to be “named and shamed”. Impunity must end for those who continued to commit such grave crimes, despite preventive measures. Where laws existed, they should be implemented. The changing nature of warfare -- including the spread of terrorism and small arms -- had to be factored into ongoing schemes. Efforts should also be mobilized to support the reintegration of children who were abused, violated and recruited as child soldiers. Recent global crises meant there were fewer resources to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, but Monaco’s development programmes aimed to close those gaps. Indeed, Monaco was working to combat hunger and finance immunization programmes in Africa, among other things.
DIANELA PI (Uruguay), aligning herself with the Rio Group, said her country had established a national agency on child and adolescent rights, with the task of coordinating State action in upholding those rights. The Government had held a dialogue with 4,000 boys and girls, to seek their views on proposals for the national 20-year strategy. Youth and children were hard hit by poverty, and several programmes under the national strategy to fight poverty were designed to bring about better coordination between State machinery and society in general. The issue of child rights cut across various disciplines: as a result, Government policies directed at children’s rights ranged from the universalization of primary and secondary education to reducing child mortality and maternal health.
She said street children were a problem, although their number was declining. The Government was working to generate spaces where children could go if they did not have families, or if their families were not responsive to their return. Non-governmental organizations had been largely responsible for the idea behind such programmes. Another problem was the gap in access to education between children of different socio-economic status and the economic crisis had further worsened the situation. The Government had a community teacher’s programme aimed at helping children who were at risk of dropping out of school. The programme had excellent results in improving school performance. The Government also had a “bridges programme” targeting adolescents in vulnerable situations, who did not complete their education, so they could return to school. She said the country was planning to launch a programme of an unprecedented nature, to provide universal access to new information technology to all children, through the “One Laptop per Child” programme. Through it, all students and teachers would each be given a computer with free Internet access, and it would be completely financed by the State.
Finally, she touched on the upcoming omnibus resolution relating to children, to be co-sponsored by the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the European Union. It would focus on the right of participation of children. Her country was committed to upholding the right of children to express their opinions on decisions that concerned them.
DONNETTE CRITCHLOW ( Guyana), aligning herself with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Rio Group, highlighted some successes and challenges faced at the national level. Guyana was making progress in the promotion of the well-being and rights of children, due in part to a reduction in debt servicing commitments. That had allowed for increased spending on social services, especially investment in children. But, further assistance would be needed to ensure that progress was not eroded as a result of the global crises. Education had been both free and compulsory since 1976. The challenge was to increase the transition rate of children from primary to secondary schools and to boost the enrolment rate of boys in secondary school. Guyana also faced a formidable challenge in achieving the goal of reducing under-five mortality by two-thirds by 2015. More needed to be done in decreasing child mortality in the hinterland.
She said the inclusion of health and family life issues in the school curriculum had added some impetus to healthy living, and in some instances had brought about behavioural change among youths. Recently, the Government had appointed officials to the Rights of the Child Commission, a constitutional body that advocates for children’s rights, and strengthened laws to protect children from violence, neglect, exploitation and discrimination. Parliament was currently considering bills regarding child care and development, as well as custody, access, maintenance and guardianship to complete the package of child protection legislation. It had also tabled a juvenile justice bill, aimed at introducing more modern and age appropriate approaches for dealing with children in the justice system, and a sexual offences bill that sought to provide more protection to victims of sexual abuse. In Guyana, the participation of children on issues affecting them was a recognized right. During Child Protection Week, forums were organized to facilitate discussions by children.
NADYA RASHEED, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine, expressed her delegation’s deep distress that, more than seven years after the adoption of the “World Fit for Children” document, the rights of children around the world continued to be egregiously violated, particularly in situations of armed conflict, including foreign occupation. As a result, children continued to endure grave hardships. Without a doubt, a significant gap remained between the international legal standard relevant for children’s protection and the implementation of these laws. Implementation gaps perpetuated the impunity enjoyed by those who violated children’s rights, and a vicious circle continued: lack of compliance; lack of accountability; and continued transgression. Even more regrettably, serious human rights violations and war crimes continued to be committed against children.
She stressed that respect for the rules of international law should be compulsory for all States. But, in Palestine’s case, nearly every provision of international, humanitarian and human rights laws had been violated time and time again by Israel. Three generations of Palestinian children had grown up as a Stateless and dispossessed people, with millions living under difficult socio‑economic conditions. They were devoid of any real protection, but continued to be the targets of the excessive, indiscriminate and lethal force routinely unleashed by the Israeli occupying forces. Never had the absence of protection been more evident than it was during Israel’s three-week aggression against Gaza, launched on 27 December 2008. More than a third of the 1,400 Palestinians killed were children and more than 1,800 were injured as a result of the use of excessive, indiscriminate lethal force and even illegal weaponry and ammunition. The targeting of civilian areas and objects had been confirmed by several investigations, including most recently the “Goldstone Report”.
She said that, in addition to the massive carnage against the Palestinian people in Gaza, Palestinian children there continued to inordinately suffer from unlawful collective punishment measures imposed by the occupying Power. The situation before the three-week assault was already dire, due to the more than 28‑month inhumane siege that deliberately obstructed humanitarian access; the movement of sick persons who needed treatment unavailable in Gaza; and the movement of food, medical and fuel supplies. Since the independent inquiries and investigations into Israel’s military aggression confirmed its commitment of grave breaches of international law, she called on the international community to take all necessary steps to pursue accountability and justice.
ZAKARIAOUI ADAM MAIGA ( Niger) said the Convention on the Rights of the Child took into account the special status of the child. When a country invested in young people, it was guaranteeing its own future. Twenty years ago, global leaders had committed to ensuring the future of their peoples by deciding to implement the provisions of that Convention. Twenty years was sufficient time to examine what had been done, what remained to be done, and what obstacles stood in the way of full implementation. For its part, the Niger sought to create a country fit for children. Its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, overseen by the national committee on monitoring, development and protection of children, was written with input from civil society and other technical and financial partners. The Government had established a monitoring system, working through a system of focal points and regular meetings. Major investments in health and education had led to a significant drop in infant mortality and improved school enrolment.
He said the country had stronger laws to promote respect for the rights of the child. It had recently modified the criminal code, by creating new crimes and increasing the sentences for existing crimes. Prenatal care and health care for infants up to 5 years of age was being carried out under a special programme of the President of the Republic. A draft children’s code would complete laws on monitoring, protecting and the development of children. A multilateral agreement on trafficking of children had resulted in the formation of a national commission on that issue. Many trafficked children had been repatriated as a result, and the Government was ensuring their reintegration into society. Through advocacy, it brought about a tangible improvement in the level of awareness of crimes of that nature, including among religious leaders and traditional chiefs.
SANDRA SIMOVICH ( Israel) said the issue of sexual violence against girls in conflict had been given a boost with the adoption of Security Council resolutions 1820 (2008) and 1888 (2009). The actions called for in those resolutions should serve to maintain the international community’s vigilant attention to this crime. The recent appointment of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children was also a positive development in child protection. Nevertheless, the Secretary-General’s report on the rights of children noted a number of areas where swift and forceful action was needed. Of particular concern were the more than 200,000 child soldiers and other children associated with armed conflicts. No effort should be spared to end child recruitment, once and for all. And while data also suggested that child labour in some regions had decreased significantly, a staggering 150 million children from 5 to 14 5 years of age still engaged in child labour. Since that phenomenon was both a consequence and cause of poverty, it must be addressed on several fronts, including through national and international support for education.
She said Israel maintained a comprehensive set of laws and policies to protect the rights of minors. Broad reform of the way minors were dealt with in the criminal justice system had just begun. It stressed rehabilitation over punitive measures. In the education field, the disabled were being integrated into regular schools, to the greatest extent possible. In the belief that education was more than just learning information, a number of schools had been established to bring together children of different backgrounds, such as the Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam school, where Jewish and Arab children had been taught in a bilingual setting for over 30 years. Civil society initiatives complemented Government efforts for tolerance and peace. The Peres Centre for Peace organized programmes for Israelis and Palestinians, with a special emphasis on children through twinned peace kindergartens, twinned sports schools and joint summer camps. Unfortunately, that vision of peace was not yet shared by all in the region.
She said that, while children were often victims of terrorism, as they were in Israel, they were also recruited into terrorism. The latest report of the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict acknowledged the increasing frequency with which children were recruited to carry out terrorist acts, including suicide bombing, which was the worst imaginable form of child exploitation. But, her delegation was disappointed that, once again, the report barely mentioned the practices of indoctrination and incitement to violence, which were the twin roots of so much hostility in the world and the Middle East. When schools, textbooks and television programmes instilled a narrow, intolerant and hate-filled world outlook in children, as seen, for example in the Al-Aksa network’s broadcast in Gaza of a programme specifically calling for the slaughter of Jews, a generation could be lost forever.
MAGUED ABDEL FATTAH ABDEL AZIZ ( Egypt) congratulated Marta Santos Pais on the assumption of her new office as Special Representative on Violence against Children. Egypt had supported the establishment of that post and supported the process in determining her mandate. He welcomed her participation in the regional meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference on female genital mutilation, to be held in Cairo, and stressed the importance of full international support to the United Nations Trust Fund through which her work would be financed.
He said the Egyptian Government was active in implementing the “World Fit for Children” document, and in promoting it throughout the African and Arab world. Domestically, he said Egypt’s national budget was sensitive to child rights issues. The country had eradicated polio and neonatal tetanus, and was successfully promoting education among girls. It had also drastically reduced female genital mutilation. A conference had been held in February focused on encouraging States to enact laws to ensure effective treatment for victims of child exploitation, and for ensuring that technology was not being used as a tool to further exploit children.
He noted that the annual resolution on the rights of the child, co-sponsored by Egypt, would focus on the theme, the rights of the child to participation. Saying he fully supported the work of Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, he drew attention to the need to protect the rights of children living under foreign occupation.
HERMAN SCHAPER ( Netherlands), aligning his remarks with those made on behalf of the European Union, noted the follow up to the International Girl Child Conference that took place last March, which was held during the ministerial week of this year’s General Assembly. Girls represented one of society’s most vulnerable groups. Every day throughout the world, girls were victims of violence. The appointment of Marta Santos Pais as Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary‑General on Violence against Children provided a new momentum to put words into action. Increased international cooperation in this crucial area would strengthen protection of human rights around the world. The Netherlands was committed to supporting the Special Representative and encouraged other countries to implement policies and programmes and take other initiative aimed at eliminating all violence against children.
His delegation was deeply concerned at the high incidence of sexual exploitation of female children and adolescents all over the world. The misuse of new technologies, such as the Internet, and great mobility in travel had increased the risks. A more concerted worldwide effort was needed, as was greater cooperation to prevent, prohibit and stop this abuse. Further support was needed for victims, as called for in the “Rio Declaration and Call for Action” adopted at last year’s Third World Congress against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents. Specifically, accountability measures in law enforcement and the judiciary should be strengthened. Data collection on violence and girls should also be strengthened. Safe, accessible mechanisms for children and others to report violence were needed. Children and youth should also be consulted in the development of policies concerning them. He urged the United Nations, as well as individual countries, to keep the problem of violence against girls on the agenda.
ONON SODOV (Mongolia), aligning herself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, welcomed the appointment of Marta Santos Pais as Special Representative on Violence against Children. She noted that the situation of children remained dire, despite progress. Some 75 million were not in school, another 182 million had no access to secondary school, and large numbers were subject to violence and discrimination. States needed to improve their programmes to protect children from violence and trafficking. The twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on Child Rights afforded an opportunity to evaluate progress.
For its part, Mongolia would spare no effort in implementing the Convention and the Declaration on a world fit for children. It had a national programme of action for the development of children, and was increasing family income and expanding support to children left out of parental care. Parliament was considering laws against domestic violence. A law on human trafficking had also been amended. In addition, the Government provided “child money” and an allowance for newly-married young couples nationwide.
Addressing the very young, she said the infant-mortality rate had declined significantly, from 64 per cent in 1990 to 19.4 per cent in 2008. The under-five mortality rate had dropped sharply, as well. But, since the economic slowdown, that number had risen slightly. The Government had recently launched a strategy for infant feeding. Immunization coverage was reaching almost universal levels, resulting in a reduced incidence of infectious diseases. Enrolment in preschool and kindergarten had risen. On child labour, she said the Government was currently embarking on a project in collaboration with the ILO and the United States Labour Department, aimed at increasing awareness about the worst forms of child labour. The project was targeted at national authorities and trade unions. In general, the Government was striving to uphold the Convention on the Rights of the Child, along with related international child rights documents. It had submitted reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, which were prepared with wide participation from throughout the Government, civil society and with children’s representatives. Challenges still remain, however, especially in protecting children from violence.
ANNICK YOLADE NZOUNZA LEKAKA ( Congo) said the emergence of the financial, fuel and energy crises and the impact of ongoing violence and conflict impacted the lives of children around the world. Her country had joined the two Optional Protocols on the rights of the child and the ratification instruments had just been deposited. With support from its development partners, the Government was taking steps to reform its education and health care programmes, with a view to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Universal access to basic health services had been set as a goal. Among other programmes, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) supported efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. Moreover, several workshops had been organized to strengthen the abilities of teachers and to train workers in early-childhood centres. A plan had been set up to further the education of girls. Mother- and child-health weeks were being prepared and support was being extended to the anti-malaria and vaccination campaigns.
She emphasized the Senate’s adoption, on 29 August, of a law to protect children, noting that violence against children was one of the worst violations of human rights. Convinced of the devastating effect violence had on children’s health and well-being, the Government had organized awareness campaigns and strengthened legal and medical services. To address child soldiers, her country had begun to collect weapons and had programmes aimed at reintegrating child soldiers. To tackle the increasingly widespread problem of street children, family centres had also been set up to reintegrate them into their families. Violence, drugs, life in the streets, prostitution and begging became a way of life for these children as they adapted to a life of exclusion. Social policies, thus, had to promote sustainable human development by addressing the breadth of these problems and ensuring children’s human rights.
KARMA CHOEDA ( Bhutan) said his country was among the first to ratify the child rights Convention and its Optional Protocols. It had also signed a convention on regional arrangements for the promotion of child welfare within the South Asian region. His country was expected to meet the target of universal primary education by 2015, and was on track to reduce child-mortality rates by that same year. In Bhutan, education and health received the highest budgetary allocations. Resources were also being channelled to training and improving services for children with disabilities. Special education units for children with disabilities were currently being set up. But, HIV/AIDS and substance abuse among youth were a source of concern.
To protect children against discrimination and exploitation, the Government developed a child care and protection bill to address the remaining gaps, he said. A five-year plan, which came into effect in July 2008, had integrated child‑protection issues into the activities of the National Commission for Women and Children for the first time. The Government was also conducting training to promote understanding of the Convention on the Rights of the Child among law enforcement, the judiciary, teachers, parents and children. New learning and disciplining methods in schools, and child rights forums in schools, were examples of ways to promote the Convention. The judiciary had initiated the “know the law to protect your rights” programme, also in schools. The police had established a protection unit for women and children and was launching a complaints and response mechanism. Bhutan looked forward to receiving assistance from its development partners, especially since it lacked adequate financial resources. A recent earthquake in Bhutan had set back the country even further.
DANIEL ANTÓNIO ( Mozambique) endorsed the statement made on behalf of the SADC and fully commended the United Nations Secretary-General’s reports. Stressing that Mozambique’s Constitution protected children from violence and discrimination, he said the Government had also adopted policies and legal and administrative measures to support children’s rights. The second Plan of Action for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty called for more resources to be allocated to national sectors that contributed to children’s well-being and development. The Government had also signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols, as well as ILO Convention 182 on child labour, among other international instruments aimed at protecting children’s rights.
Turning to national legislation, he said a Promotion and Protection Law on Child Rights, a Jurisdictional Organization for Minors Law, a law against human trafficking, a Law and a Code of Civil Registration had been enacted. Apart from that legislative framework, Mozambique had a National Action Plan for Children 2006-2011 and an Action Plan for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children. It was also working to implement the 2007 “Africa Fit for Children” document. But, despite its efforts to ensure better living conditions for children, the country still faced major difficulties in achieving the goals of the “World Fit for Children” document. Indeed, those goals would be impossible to accomplish without an improvement in the standard of living of their parents and the society as a whole. In that regard, the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals would do much to fulfil the goals for children. Hopefully, international partners would fulfil their obligations of assistance.
MARYAM AL KENDI ( United Arab Emirates) noted that millions of children remained below the poverty line in developing countries. The United Nations itself faced challenges in trying to improve the situation, given the current financial crisis and fallout from climate change. The Government of the United Arab Emirates was examining the possibility of signing the two Optional Protocols, having already signed the Women’s Anti-Discrimination Convention, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the ILO Convention on minimum age, and the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. It currently had laws guaranteeing the rights of the child to reflect provisions in those documents.
She said the United Arab Emirates had successfully reduced its maternal- and child-mortality rates. It had eradicated polio, and suffered no deaths from diarrhoea. The Government had programmes to support breast feeding. It had programmes to support adolescents. It provided school meals. School attendance was now 86 per cent at the primary school level. The school curriculum, based on the programme “schools for the future”, was designed to bring education at the United Arab Emirates up to international standards. Aside from domestic programmes, the country was also active in assisting developing countries. It was particularly concerned by children deprived of their rights through poverty, conflict and occupation, especially in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. More needed to be done to provide such countries with assistance.
ABDUL MOMEN ( Bangladesh) said his country was committed to promoting the best interests of the child. At the regional level, under the auspices of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), it was actively pursing child rights issues. It had also formulated a National Plan of Action for Children in 1992 and launched a Decade Plan of Action for the Girl Child. The National Children’s Policy was drawn up in 1994 and, currently, the third National Plan of Action reflected the goals and objectives of the World Fit for Children document and the Millennium Development Goals. Bangladesh had also formulated its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper to reflect the needs and rights of children. Part of this protection required access to education and health care, and both areas received significant budgetary allocations, with a special focus on children. Stringent legislative acts protected children, particularly girls, from all forms of abuse, exploitation, violence, trafficking and discrimination. Safeguards prohibited chid detentions and confinement and the threshold of criminal responsibility of children had been raised.
He went on to say that Bangladesh was a party to the ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour. Its labour law of 2006 had provisions for eliminating and reducing hazardous and exploitative forms of child labour. While its garments industry was totally child-labour free, the country still had a long way to go to end child labour. To this end, a draft policy on child labour had been developed with national stakeholders. The Government was also working to achieve Millennium Development Goal 4, aiming to reduce child mortality by 9.8 per cent, by 2015, by reducing the number of children dying from curable diseases. Bangladesh was encouraged by the “Child Protection Policy directive” for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. As the second largest troop‑contributing country, it was also happy to note that each peacekeeping mission would now have a child-protection adviser. Bangladesh would again be sponsoring the annual resolution on “The International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World 2001-2010”, and hoped that, as in previous years, this resolution would enjoy enthusiastic support.
DRAGANA ŠĆEPANOVIĆ ( Montenegro), aligning herself with the European Union, said child protection was one of her country’s main priorities. As a middle‑income country in the Western Balkans that is multi-ethnic, geo-politically stable and on track to meet all of the Millennium Development Goals, it was in a strong position to create conditions for human development and security. It would train its efforts on children without prenatal care, Roma children, children living in poverty, children with disabilities and children in conflict with the law. It submitted its report on the implementation of the Child Rights Convention in 2008, and would report on the implementation of the two Optional Protocols in June. It would organize a campaign on child rights to mark the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of that Convention, in conjunction with the UNICEF Office in Montenegro. It would also produce a brochure on the situation of women and children in Montenegro and present a version of the Convention in Braille.
She said Montenegro was in the midst of national reform. One of the main achievements was the creation of a juvenile justice system. The UNICEF country programme in Montenegro had helped greatly in creating momentum towards legislative alternatives for children at risk or in conflict with the law. The programme also provided a way for Montenegro to complete the process of aligning existing laws and policies with the Convention and other international standards. In cooperation with the UNICEF Office and the European Commission, the Government would organize a regional conference on the “ Copenhagen criteria and the rights of the child”, in November.
MARINA IVANOVIC (Serbia), aligning herself with the European Union, said her Government had a national action plan for children, whose main goals were the reduction of poverty, providing quality education, better health, improving the status of children with disabilities, protecting children without parental care and protecting children from abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence. The Council on the Rights of the Child, established in 2002, evaluated the effectiveness of Government policies and also promoted the participation of children in defining and implementing policies concerning child’s rights. The Serbian Parliament had a children’s rights subcommittee. One of the deputies to the national Ombudsman had the task of promoting and protecting children’s rights.
She said that the Government had a protocol on the protection of children against abuse and neglect, and had a special protocol for the conduct of police officers in the protection of minors against abuse and neglect. It had recently adopted a national strategy for the prevention and protection of children from violence. But, much remained to be done to help children achieve the full realization of their rights. That was particularly true for children with disabilities, children without parental care, and Roma children.
LIUSHA ZAHIR ( Maldives) noted her country had ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991 and was party to the Convention’s two Optional Protocols. The Maldives had taken progressive steps to lay a basic foundation to protect children’s rights. In this regard, the extension of the age of children to 18, the establishment of a minimum age for employment and enacting domestic legislation were notable. Yet additional significant steps were required to fully and effectively realize the provision of the international regime on such rights. The Maldives was currently grappling with emerging issues in protecting child welfare. A growing number of children were falling victim to illegal narcotics use. Children were also vulnerable to negative social effects from substance abuse. The welfare of children of substance-abusing parents was a worrying new issue. Social support networks run by civil society groups could help, but many local non-governmental organizations lacked capacity and resources. The Government was in the process of establishing a childcare system to institutionalize child welfare in the country.
She went to say there had been an alarming and disturbing increase in the number of reported child abuse cases and violence against children over the last few years. Though tougher sentencing guidelines were introduced last year for child-sex offenders, existing penalties for sexual abuse of children ranged from as much as three years’ imprisonment to banishment. In education, the Maldives had made primary and secondary education compulsory for girls and boys and the enrolment ratio stood at 100 per cent in primary education and 75 per cent in lower secondary schools. Nevertheless the Government was concerned that growing numbers of school-aged girls were now prevented from attending school in some island communities, due to the increasing extreme mindsets within society. Given the new budget restrictions imposed as a result of the financial crisis, a long road lay ahead for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Nevertheless, the Maldives called on the world community to intensify efforts to protect the rights of children.
MILO KOTEREE ( Slovakia), aligning himself with the European Union, said he found it particularly relevant that this year’s omnibus resolution focused on the right of the child to express his or her views freely in all matters. As the Secretary-General noted in his report on the girl child, there had been increased efforts to institutionalize and sustain the meaningful participation of children in policy and practice. The follow-up report to the special session of the General Assembly on children similarly reported on energized legislative reform and policy measures in many countries from all regions. But, all reports, nevertheless, concluded by enumerating several persisting challenges: violence against children; their exploitation and abuse; access to health, education, basic needs, and so on. To give voice to children did not mean to exempt the adult international community from that particular policy area. On the contrary, giving voice to children meant having more responsibility to listen and to hear.
In that context, he recalled that, on 17 June 2009, the Human Rights Council adopted the resolution to establish an open-ended working group on an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child to provide a communications procedure. Slovakia had had the honour of introducing that resolution on behalf of almost 50 countries from all regional groups, which was considered proof of the cross-regional nature of that initiative. Its ultimate goal was to listen to children and to respect them; one means to that end was to create an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child to provide a communications procedure, to complement the reporting procedure under the Convention. That open-ended group would meet in Geneva in December to explore the possibility of elaborating such a protocol.
AMIRA DALI ( Tunisia) welcomed the United Nations Secretary-General’s reports on children. Tunisia had ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991 and a national code was subsequently implemented at the national level in 1995. Tunisia continued to express ongoing concern over the means of guaranteeing the rights of children. In its efforts, the Government made no distinction between girls and boys and was undertaking unswerving pragmatic efforts to affect the daily lives of its children. Among other initiatives, it had created a delegates corps to protect children and intervene in situations where children were at risk. A parliament for children had also been set up, and integrated centres for children at risk had been created.
She said the Government’s partnerships with civil society had allowed 248 at-risk children to be sheltered, while public facilities sheltered an additional 834 children, of which 46 per cent were girls. Family judges had also considered the cases of 2,400 children in need of protection, of which more than half were girls, and 72 cases of abused children. The Government was working to sustain a tradition of constructive dialogue among family members to reinforce the position of the child in society. It had also created a children’s parliament to teach citizenship, participation and responsibility. Moreover, 2008 had been declared the year of dialogue with youth and the Government had worked to create hearing rooms in schools and the institutions, which guided and integrated children into society. An observatory for the study of the protection of the rights of the child was created to strengthen these achievements. It followed up on all policies designed to promote children’s rights.
PAK TOK HUN (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the protection of children’s rights was an important undertaking with a great bearing on the future of humanity. In regions and countries occupied by foreign forces, and in conflict-ridden areas replete with terrorism, children fell victim to military assaults and to exploitation and ill-treatment. In addition, the food, fuel and financial crises posed a great threat to the “subsistence of children”. His country considered it important to take practical measures to attain the ideals of the child rights Convention, the Declaration on a world fit for children, and the Millennium Development Goals.
Though States had adopted laws and set objectives, without political will -- and if those measures were not followed at high standards -- they amounted to nothing but sheets of paper, he said. Practical measures were needed to strengthen international cooperation, in a spirit of solidarity and based on the specific effort of each country. Developed countries should fulfil their development assistance commitments. Cooperation between States was something to be valued, and any attempt to politicize such cooperation should not be permitted.
In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said children were referred to as “kings and queens of the country”. The Government pursued a policy of giving prominence to them, under the principle “best things to children first”. Despite the persistent, tenacious moves of the United States and its followers to isolate and suffocate the country, his Government and people would push forward their efforts in the promotion and protection of child rights and welfare through nationwide care involving the entire society. Already, the Government had legal guarantees for the welfare of children. Education and medical care was free. Its report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child had been reviewed in January. The Government intended to further consolidate its system of guaranteeing the rights of the child.
MANAR YACOUB BUHIJJI ( Bahrain) said her country had established a committee to raise the living standards of the child. Bahrain’s Constitution gave special care to the family, as well as the child. The Government was also working to protect children against abuse. Among other things, it had acceded to several agreements of the ILO, including 182 on the prohibition of the worst forms of child labour. The Ministry of Social Development now addressed children’s issues and a national committee for children, which brought together the Government and civil society, had also been set up to take care of all policies and programmes relevant to children of every age. Policies had been reviewed in order to promote the gains already made in protecting children. Indeed, the Government believed that protecting children’s rights was complementary to all other areas of social life. Bahrain’s educational curriculum had been developed and revised, and it now drew from new theories and technologies in education.
She went on to underline the ongoing work by the Ministry of Social Development to secure children and make them safe from all dangers. The Ministry of Education had also introduced new technologies to improve teaching methods. A unique “Be Free” programme was set up in 2002 to protect children from violence. Government work was also being coordinated with civil society and non-governmental organizations, and it looked forward to further progress in this respect.
NAKPA POLO ( Togo) noted that the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Child Rights Convention would take place next month. Her country had ratified its national and regional instruments, including the Convention and its two Optional Protocols. The Government was working to ensure that children in Togo had the right environment to achieve success in life. Its efforts ranged from working to rid the practice of female genital mutilation to introducing stiffer penalties for child trafficking. It was also making the age of marriage the same for girls and boys.
She said Togo’s Head of State had intervened personally to combat trafficking. In June, he convened security and law enforcement officials to discuss the topic. The Government was working to collect reliable data on victims, and had set up shelters to facilitate the social reintegration of child victims. Togo’s security forces would cooperate with the ILO on producing a guide to eliminate trafficking. It would also launch an education campaign on drugs and crime. In January, the Government established a telephone hotline, where anyone could file anonymous reports of cases of mistreatment.
In terms of education, she said the right to education was reflected in the national Constitution. A “children’s code” stipulated that any action on children, whether taken by “administrative authorities” or the court system, must account for the child’s well-being. For example, the relevant Government authority had reviewed Togo’s adoption laws. In addition, the Government was working to publicize the Child Rights Convention as widely as possible.
SUDHIR BHATTARAI ( Nepal) said important tasks lay ahead to make today’s children educated, healthy and productive citizens of tomorrow and to create an environment conducive to the well-being of children. The international community should play a great role in fully and effectively implementing the agreed international commitments. Pragmatic and constructive analysis of achievements, constraints, and lessons learned was needed to enrich and accelerate these commitments at all levels. For its part, Nepal’s Interim Constitution guaranteed children’s rights as fundamental rights. The Children Act provided for measures and safeguards, in that respect, and further provisions against child labour and trafficking had been included in various other national policies and laws. While the civil code provided additional protection, a Human Trafficking Control Act had also been enacted.
He said the National Plan on Education for All was expanding and improving comprehensive early-childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children. Other Government initiatives sought to build children’s welfare homes, operate a children’s help line, identify and manage street children, monitor children’s homes and rehabilitate and protect children at risk. Basic education and health had also been established in the interim constitution as fundamental rights. Free maternity services and basic health care for women and children had been introduced. Nepal was on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals related to child survival, and possibly maternal mortality. Both the number of maternal deaths and deaths of children under the age of five had been halved in the last decade. The Government was also implementing the recommendations of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed conflict. Programmes for the rehabilitation and reintegration of child soldiers had also been developed, in conjunction with the United Nations. Moreover, Nepal had ratified several ILO conventions.
GRACE CERERE ( Kenya) said her country was committed to alleviating, through the principles of “A World Fit for Children”, the plight of its children, which had been worsened by drought and other problems. The ideals set forth in that plan of action would remain mere platitudes until they were transformed into domestic legislation, integrated into national development plans and pursued by all actors at all levels. She described her Government’s comprehensive health framework, saying it exceeded international standards and contributed to a decline of deaths of children under five. However, the fight against malaria, acute respiratory infections and other diseases remained a major challenge, although efforts involving all sectors were beginning to bear fruit. She referred to the community health initiative that looked to improving the health of both children and mothers.
Pointing out that children were affected by all development and security problems, she expressed support for the work of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict. She announced that Kenya was on the path to achieving its education Development Goal, through exponential expansion of enrolment and retention after the institution of tuition‑free secondary schools. Early pregnancy had also dropped as a result and now more girls were in school than boys. Affirming that violence against children, including sexual violence, was always unacceptable, she said she supported the appointment of a special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on that issue and outlined Kenya’s measures in that regard, including a children’s hotline and counselling services.
JAIME HERMIDA CASTILLO ( Nicaragua), aligning himself with the Rio Group, said his country had ratified numerous conventions regarding the rights of the child. Children and adolescents were a high priority for his Government, which provided comprehensive care to children and adolescents through an initiative called “Programme Love”. The Inter-American Development Bank and UNICEF were now contributing funds and technical assistance to that programme, which delivered nutrition, health and “early stimulation” to children from birth to six years of age through its rural child service network. In addition, the Government was working to modernize services at its infant development centres, serving working mothers in urban areas. Around 5,000 children received psychological and nutritional care, while mothers were at work. Programme Love also focused on at-risk teens, such as street children, children of migrants, children of detainees, and children involved in child labour and exposed to sexual exploitation. The Government worked to identify them and attempted to restore them to their families. It found places for them to play and do their homework. The Government was able to identify children not on the civil registry.
As for children and adolescents with disabilities, he said the Government provided physical rehabilitation. The Ministry of Education was working to promote inclusive education by helping incorporate disabled children into regular classrooms. It conducted home visits to study the causes of certain disabilities. Also, orphans and abandoned children were placed with surrogate families, while children of migrants and detainees were given special protection. On the eradication of child labour, he said the Government had intervened in the cases of 4,771 children and adolescents working in the worst forms of child labour; as a result, 74 per cent of those children had been integrated into the education system. With the human rights prosecutor, the Government was working to help at-risk street corner children, and with the administration of justice, was improving the care of juveniles in detention.
While he lauded efforts to improve the participation of children in society, he noted that the first step to achieving the full enjoyment of human rights for children was to ensure their basic needs: food, education, health and housing. He was grateful to donors for supporting his country in its priorities, with due respect for the country’s goals.
KARIME GANEMTORE ( Burkina Faso) said nothing could justify violence against children and no one could tolerate violence against them. Thus, the Government of Burkina Faso was implementing a number of international instruments, as well as a host of domestic laws, aimed at promoting children’s rights. In Burkina Faso, children made up roughly half of the population. They lived under incredibly severe circumstances, including, among other things, high rates of poverty and environmental catastrophes, like the flooding experienced on 1 September 2009, which menaced roughly 150,000 people.
He said the objectives laid out at the World Summit for Children were far from being realized. Infant mortality rates stood at 81 per cent in 2006. Juvenile mortality, which was largely caused by malnutrition, had reached 84 per cent. The schooling rates for girls had a gap of 10 points with boys, and there was a lot of work remaining to achieve universal schooling. In 2006, nearly 40 per cent of school-aged children had no access to the educational system. Meanwhile, due to widespread poverty and HIV/AIDS, many family and community structures were eroding, leaving children further unable to access the educational system.
Against this backdrop, the Government had adopted a strategic framework to protect children’s rights. Among other things, it had created a national council for follow-up on the laws affecting the rights of children, particularly in the judicial arena. It was working to improve the quality of formal and informal education. It aimed to reduce infant mortality by 40 per cent in 2012. Social services had also been introduced in primary and secondary schools to discourage drop-outs and to involve children in decisions relating to them. In closing, he said his delegation supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations and hoped that they would be translated into concrete action.
ASIF SHAIFOV ( Azerbaijan), aligning himself with the European Union, noted the wide support enjoyed by the Convention on the Promotion and Protection of the Child and its Optional Protocols. But, some States parties held reservations with regard to parts of the documents, and he urged those States to withdraw them. For its part, a protracted conflict with a neighbouring country -- resulting in one-fifth of its territory being under occupation –- meant that one out of every eight people in the country was internally displaced or a refugee. Many children were growing up in camps or crowded temporary accommodations, and so a major effort had been made to resolve housing problems for displaced persons and refugees.
He then expressed concern over the continued use of the death penalty for crimes committed before the age of 18. One of the recommendations of the United Nations Study on Violence against Children was to abolish the use of the death penalty and life imprisonment for children. His Government welcomed recommendations to treat children in accordance with international law and other relevant standards of juvenile justice and social rehabilitation. That meant working within the framework of restorative justice and social rehabilitation. Expressing, also, support for the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, he expressed support for the guiding principles on rights and guarantees for internally displaced children. He also drew Member States’ attention to another issue requiring urgent action -- children taken hostage and reported missing in connection with armed conflict.
DIEGO LIMERES (Argentina), aligning his comments with those made on behalf of the Rio Group, said the issue of children had multiple dimensions and was delicate. Its treatment and multidisciplinary implications called for a concerted and articulated effort on behalf of all actors. In its national policy, Argentina sought to avoid overlap and duplication of efforts. Its objective was to unify and articulate resources, administrative circuits and joint action. In this, it believed recipes and orthodoxy only brought huge frustrations. Still, the Convention on the Rights of the Child was a guiding framework for the National Action Plan for Boys, Girls and Adolescents. That plan contained policies, programmes and actions that joined State responsibilities with civil society to guarantee children’s rights.
He emphasized that social polices under the Ministry of Social Development had their basis in the family. Its actions sought to fight hunger and promote social inclusion through active policies for employment and income creation. Another principle initiative was the National Plan for Food Security. Children’s well-being included their participation and voice in all decision-making processes affecting them. The voice of children and adolescents was a guiding pillar for public, State and private intervention in the promotion and protection of their rights. Moreover, it was fundamental in strengthening citizenship.
Underlining that Argentina’s investment in its children had risen by more than 30 per cent in relation to its GDP between 1995 and 2009, he said the different departments of the national Government, the judiciary, Parliament and civil society were working together in a multidisciplinary and concerted fashion. At the same time, international cooperation, including South-South cooperation, was an important tool in supporting national efforts. In that sense, he noted that Argentina had signed an agreement with UNICEF and was currently working on South-South and triangular cooperation projects, including in Haiti. The Government was also actively working to end impunity for, and eradicate all instances of, forced disappearances. Intense work had been made to return children to their families, resulting in the retrieval of almost 100 children today. This work to locate the hundreds who were still missing would continue.
RAHMA SAID AL-RUQUADI ( Oman) said her country was party to the Child Rights Convention and had already presented reports on its implementation of the related Optional Protocols. It had also ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, which touches on trafficking in persons, especially women and children. It had ratified the ILO Convention on a minimum age for work.
She said Oman had made several advances in education and the health of children. The Constitution, which guaranteed the rights and responsibilities of citizens, also guaranteed the right to nationality to all children of unknown fathers. The Ministry for Social Development, which examined cases of abuse and their causes, worked to ensure the protection and care of the children involved. In terms of children’s health, she said the child-mortality rate has decreased. But, still, Oman ranked 127th in the world on infant mortality. Malnutrition was a challenge; the Health Ministry and UNICEF were working to adopt strategies to confront that problem. She affirmed her country’s commitment to support the rights of the child.
KARINA RUFARO (Rwanda), noting that her country still bore the effects of the 1994 genocide, said that by living in a society where the victims of a genocide lived side by side with the perpetrators of that act, Rwanda’s children were living a unique experience. In Kigali, the number of children living in the street had increased. In the countryside, children were often forced to seek employment to provide for their siblings. Overall, the country had a high rate of child-headed households, particularly households headed by girls. As the Government sought to ensure that the country had a brighter future, it was putting children at the forefront of that process. It was her delegation’s sincere hope that, as the Committee continued to consider this agenda item, it did not lose focus on the plight of the world’s most vulnerable and needy children.
VICTORIA SULIMANI ( Sierra Leone) said that, as a result of its decade-long brutal rebel war, her country had the greater obligation to promote and protect the rights of children. The “despicable acts committed against innocent and defenceless children”, such as amputation and other traumas, had a “horrendous” impact on victims and prompted Sierra Leone to consider the special needs of war‑affected children within the overall national programmes.
She emphasized that even before ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child -- on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict -- Sierra Leone had made sure that children associated with the war were successfully demobilized and reintegrated into their communities. In response to those reintegration needs, a National Commission on War Affected Children had been established, and a nationwide sensitization and education programme was under way to ensure that no child below the age of 18 years was recruited into any fighting or security forces.
Additionally, Sierra Leone’s recruitment policy for the armed forces was revised in 2004, setting the minimum age for enlistment into the national army at 18 years of age.
In the area of health, she said much progress had been achieved – 35 per cent of children aged 12-23 months were now fully immunized, and 63 per cent were immunized against measles. Education standards had also improved, with enrolment standing at 69 per cent.
Work was also being done with UNICEF under a project known as “SABABU Education”, designed to benefit school construction, teacher training, and provisions of teaching learning materials.
The National Child’s Rights Act and a National Commission for Human Rights were put in place to uphold the best interests of children, in addition to addressing the question of impunity. She said Sierra Leone was also breaking new ground on the issue of female-genital-mutilation practices; the fact that the issue was now being openly discussed was a milestone in the country’s history, since these practices were now considered a human-rights violation.
Acknowledging that much remained to be done for Sierra Leone’s children, she expressed appreciation for the continued and sustained assistance of the United Nations and other international actors, as well as bilateral partners working towards the development agenda of children.
MAHINDA SAMARASINGHE, Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights, Sri Lanka, said children under 18 years of age made up 36 per cent of Sri Lanka’s population. One fifth of the population was of school age. Consistent investment in education had resulted in a literacy rate of 93 per cent, which was comparable to developed countries. Sri Lanka was on track to achieve its universal primary education target, school gender parity and the provision of reproductive health services. Universal child immunization was already a reality. Through its free public health system, the Government was able to provide supplementary food for infants, disease control, access to safe drinking water, sanitation and health education. Even at the height of the conflict in the north and east, the Government was able to ensure the delivery of food and nutritional supplements to children in the conflict zones, and provided them with education.
Regarding children with disabilities, he said Sri Lanka was committed to providing inclusive education for them, along with special health care. Efforts were also being made to better protect such children from abuse and neglect. To combat the exploitation and abuse of children in general, the Government imposed heavy penalties for involving children in pornography, sexual exploitation, begging and trafficking. A strict legal regime existed to protect children upon adoption, including international adoption.
With the end of armed conflict in Sri Lanka, he said he was happy to report that the practice of using innocent children in armed combat by terrorists had come to an end. Former child combatants were now undergoing rehabilitation and reintegration, with the assistance of UNICEF and the ILO. They were being treated as victims, not suspects. A number of children were internally displaced following the conflict, and while the Government was in the process of resettling them and reuniting families, it was ensuring that school lessons and examinations continued to take place at centres for internally displaced persons. The children were also being given food and nutritional supplements. In that regard, he welcomed the document on Rights and Guarantees of Internally Displaced Children, developed by the Office of the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict.
HENRY TACHIE-MENSON ( Ghana) said it was disheartening to note that children’s rights were highly abused globally despite the Convention and its protocols, as had been indicated by the Special Representative. The Government of Ghana was working to promote the well-being of children. New policies included guidelines on orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS; early childhood care and development; a draft policy framework for street children; and school feeding programmes. A major problem for the country was the lack of effective implementation of laws and policies formulated to protect children because of resource constraints, data gaps and inhibitive socio-cultural practices.
At the international level, he said, there was the need for greater collaboration between the United Nations bodies and the World Bank, to increase action on the health and education related Millennium Development Goals. The United Nations system as well as Member States needed to strengthen advocacy to address all forms of violence against children. The provision of technical and financial resources was of paramount importance.
AMANUEL GIORGIO ( Eritrea) said that in recent years, significant strides had been taken to address some of children’s basic needs, but children continued to suffer from abuse, violence and exploitation, and they were the worst-hit by social and economic difficulties. He said it was important to use the twentieth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child as an opportunity to take stock of concrete legal actions that had been taken to promote and protect children’s rights.
Given that poverty affected children more than any other age group, he went on, his Government had adopted a long-standing poverty-reduction policy through economic growth and speedy human development. Its food-security strategy not only aimed at meeting children’s security needs but it was also an effort to meeting the fourth of the Millennium Development Goals.
Over the past years, he said Eritrea had deployed numerous significant preventive measures to help reduce malaria and maternal, infant, and under-five mortality rates; the 2010 Abuja target had been surpassed. Free education for all included vulnerable, disadvantaged and disabled children. The Government was also hoping to narrow the gender disparity in education. He said that in its effort to protect children from exploitation, abuse and violence, the Government had banned female genital mutilation. In this regard, he also welcomed the appointment of the new Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children as a crucial step to help in the reduction and eradication of violence. To ensure the protection of children in situations of armed conflict, Eritrea had endorsed the Paris Commitment. His country remained committed to working with different bodies to ensure that children lived in an emotionally, mentally, physically- and socially-nurturing environment.
AQSA NAWA ( Pakistan) said the 1990 World Summit for Children was a global landmark event that adopted a progressive Plan of Action to bring the rights of the child to the forefront of the global agenda. The World Summit was followed by the twenty-seventh special session on Children in 2002, which culminated in the international agreement on protecting children’s rights, “A World Fit for Children”. Moreover, three out of eight Millennium Development Goals were linked directly to children’s well-being. Regrettably, however, children remained vulnerable, with their rights often forgotten, discarded or taken for granted. Violence, poverty, human slavery and trafficking still existed in different parts of the world. Lack of education, violence and maltreatment of children carried an extraordinary social and moral burden, as well as economic cost on society.
She stressed that investing in children was no doubt an investment in the future, and accelerating efforts to improve basic health and education services, reduce maternal and child mortality and global partnerships should remain priorities. Pakistan put a great emphasis on fulfilling its international commitments to children’s rights, as well as its regional obligations, under the Convention on Prevention and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. It had recently presented its third and fourth country reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
She went to say that a Child Protection Bill had been prepared in consultation with all stakeholders and would soon be present to Pakistan’s National Assembly. This bill called for harsher penalties for crimes against children. A Child Complaint Cell had also been set up at the federal level to redress children’s grievances, while the Child Protection Management Information System covered areas of sexual exploitation, juvenile justice, child trafficking, family and alternative care and violence against children. A social protection scheme had also been approved for children with disabilities to provide a reasonable monthly stipend to meet basic needs.
HASSAN EL MKHANTAR (Morocco) said that, despite the international community’s efforts, the status of children in many parts of the world remained difficult, due to poverty, illiteracy, child labour, high HIV/AIDS infection rates, sexual violence and exploitation, among other things. His delegation welcomed the appointment of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children. In his own country, within the framework of a programme of cooperation with UNICEF, a training project had been enacted to educate children on their rights and the principles of justice for minors. New work codes also forbade child labour under 15 years. A number of bodies had been set up to promote dialogue and consultation, including a National Parliament of Children.
On education, he highlighted the United Nations Secretary-General’s note, which stressed the plight of the millions of school-aged children who did not have access to, or were unable to attend school. He underlined the need to promote education to improve the situation of school-age girls, especially younger girls. For its part, Morocco had established a literacy strategy to reduce illiteracy to lower than 20 per cent by 2015 and to plan to increase the number of children going to school. Aware of the importance of education and training in human rights, the government held a seminar to renew commitment to the international human-rights regime. It had also ratified the Convention on the Protection of all Migrant Labourers and their Families. This stipulated that any labourer had a right to education on an equal footing with nationals. Also, integration programmes had been developed aimed at helping special needs and disabled children. The promotion and protection of the rights of children required the wholehearted work of the international community, including in the provision of technical assistance.
ANDA FILIP, Inter-Parliamentary Union, noted that 97 per cent of all maternal and child deaths occurred in 68 countries. Only 16 of those countries were on track to reach Millennium Development Goal 4, on child survival. There was an acute need for more funding. Parliaments held the purse strings, and they could do more to channel funds to areas where they were needed, by applying tools such as gender-sensitive budgeting. The Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Countdown to the 2015 Conference on Maternal, Newborn and Child Survival had joined forces to step up parliamentary efforts to promote maternal, newborn and child health within the 68 priority countries. Since then, it had continued to support parliaments in overseeing Government action, running workshops and so on. The Parliament of Zambia had set up a Parliamentary Caucus on Children, and the Parliaments of Canada and Italy had both recently passed resolutions expressing strong commitment to Millennium Goals 4 and 5.
He addressed also the issue of violence against children, and a related question: how to ensure that Parliaments adequately represented those whose voices were often not heard or listened to in society, namely children. For five years, the Union had worked with UNICEF to support parliaments to enable children to live free from violence. In 2009, it had focused its attention on Latin America. Each year, 40 million children living in Latin America and the Caribbean suffered severe abuse, including abandonment. Abuse within the family was one of many examples of violence, accounting for the deaths of 80,000 children under the age of 18 years. Surveys showed that adults viewed corporal punishment as a normal method for imposing discipline, and child protection laws were inadequate in many instances. At a three-day meeting in Costa Rica, participants discussed ways to supervise institutions responsible for prevention policies, and ways to supervise the appropriate use of resources.
CARLO VON FLÜE, of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the issue of detained children was generally under-addressed. He noted that last year, the ICRC had visited more than 1,500 detained children, and said he suspected that was “only the tip of the iceberg”. The many reasons children were detained ranged from being suspected of belonging to a terrorist group or of being a participant and directly involved in conflict. Some followed their parents to jail when the parents were arrested; in some cases children were in prison because they had no parents. Street children, sometimes a direct consequence of war, were often detained, so that the reputation of a city not be tarnished and crime rates be reduced.
He said the conditions of these children’s detention were worse in areas of armed conflict, especially when conflict lasted for some time and resources had to be diverted to cover the costs of war. The harm from being detained, from being separated from family, being exploited as cheap labour and being deprived of education, was great. He then recalled six fundamental principles in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, beginning with the fact that the imprisonment of a child should occur only as a last resort, and for the shortest period of time. Children were entitled to receive specific care and protection, and had the right to communicate with their parents.
He said children should be separated from adults in detention facilities and girls needed to be guarded by female staff. Children also had the right to challenge the legality of their detention, and during their detention, preparation for re-entry into society was necessary.
JOOST KOOIJMANS, of the International Labour Organization (ILO), estimated that there were about 218 million child labourers, and about 126 million children working under deplorable conditions and doing dangerous forms of jobs that should be barred to anyone under 18 years of age. Those children should be in school and, if old enough to work, in decent jobs suitable to their age level. Child labour involved not only serious humans rights violations, but was a threat to overall development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
However, he continued, there had been improvement over the past decade, as overall child labour had declined by 11 per cent and the two main international standards of ILO on child labour were widely ratified -- the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention and the Minimum Age Convention. To assess the progress made since the Child Labour Convention came into force, and the remaining obstacles, the Government of the Netherlands was organizing a global conference in The Hague in May next year. The Conference would give particular attention to integrating the child labour issue into the global education, development and human rights frameworks. It expected to adopt a road map to reach the 2016 goal of the elimination of the worst forms of child labour.
He said the Secretary-General’s report rightly stressed the role that social protection of children and their families had in mitigating the impact of the economic crisis. The international community must strengthen social protection and ensure that sound social and educational services were provided to the most vulnerable households.
HREINN LINDAL, Permanent Observer of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, said the Secretary-General’s report illustrated the unique vulnerability of girl children. The Order would therefore continue to make the inclusion of girl children in their health and education programmes a requirement. It was disturbing that children and other vulnerable populations were increasingly becoming the direct targets of violence during conflict and that youths were conscripted into soldiering. He supported the call for an increased mainstreaming of those issues in the peace and security sector.
He said he was concerned that, according to the report, maternal survival had shown the least progress among health indicators, and he wondered how, with 40 per cent of births worldwide being unassisted, progress could actually be expected. The Order worked to provide conditions for the safe delivery and care of newborns, with more than 15,000 children born in its facilities each year, 3,000 of them in its Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem. Because of its 900 years of experience in the service to the poor and vulnerable, the Order was acutely aware of the provisions that must be in place for even the most basic health systems to remain effective. Its work in the area of improving sanitation facilities and hygiene education, most notably in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, relied on the continued support of United Nations agencies and Member States.
HILARIO DAVIDE ( Philippines) said that when his country drew up its strategic plan for children -- the so-called “Child 21-Plans” -- the Government pledged to create a “child sensitive and child-friendly society” by strengthening the legal framework for children. During the last six years, it has enacted laws to combat trafficking of women and children, and to eliminate the worst kinds of child labour. It had also amended the “Family Code” so that children born out of wedlock were allowed to take their father’s names, and it had passed legislation to combat violence against women and children. Anti-torture and anti-child pornography bills were also currently pending in Congress.
However, he went on, to attain the Millennium Development Goals, other measures were also important, such as birth registration and health plans. Several programmes on nutrition had been enacted and the Government had increased the immunization of children against tuberculosis, polo, diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus from 70 per cent in 2003 to 80 per cent in 2008. Consequently, infant mortality rates had declined.
The Government also continued the work to improve its public schools. He noted the establishment in his country of the Children Defence Fund, which supported prosecution of child abuse and exploitation, and his Government, in conjunction with the United Nations, sought to demobilize child soldiers.
NICOLE ROMULUS ( Haiti) said that, in addressing discrimination against girls, her country was implementing a pilot project, financed by the American Development Bank, to eliminate gender stereotypes in educational material. In the current educational materials, men were more represented in professional situations, while women were depicted at home, among other things. The stereotypical role of men in society was reproduced in that educational material. In the project, educational materials were striking a better balance and offered a broader range of professions for women. Turning to children in domestic service, she said her Government had made that practice illegal.
SIDI OULD GHADI ( Mauritania) welcomed the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children. His country had prepared ambitious programmes on health, education and the fight against illiteracy, all of which had positively impacted the promotion of children’s right. A ministry had also been created to establish and implement children’s policies. Staff had been trained in protecting children and integrating them into society. A consultative council had been established to support that work and a national commission had also been established. Also, a civil law that, among other things, prohibited early marriage, had been enacted. The Government had also ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the African Union Human Rights Convention. Moreover, it had established other laws to prohibit sexual abuse and trafficking of children.
Right of Reply
The representative of Georgia, exercising her right of reply, said the Russian Federation had its own interpretation on everything, and yesterday’s right of reply was in line with that, as the Russian Federation had renounced its responsibility for last year’s tragic conflict. She said the report by the independent international fact-finding mission had made no reference to Georgian troops using indiscriminate military force against civilians and that military action on 8 August 2008 was the culmination point of a long period of increased tensions, provocations and incidents. The report had also noted that acts perpetrated against ethnic Georgians inside and outside South Ossetia must be considered as having violated international humanitarian law and, in many cases, also human rights law. The Ossetian actions after the ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008 were illegal, as well.
Responding, the representative of the Russian Federation said that on page 11, paragraph 2, the “Tagliavini report” -- which was available online – said: “On the night of 7 to 8 August 2008, a sustained Georgian artillery attack struck the town of Tskhinvali.” On page 12, paragraph 3, it said “the shelling of Tskhinvali by the Georgian armed forces during the night of 7 to 8 August 2008 marked the beginning of the large-scale armed conflict in Georgia”.
Moreover, on page 22 in paragraph 19, it said: “There is the question of whether the use of force by Georgia in South Ossetia, beginning with the shelling of Tskhinvali during the night of 7/8 August 2008, was justifiable under international law. It was not.”
He further quoted from sections on pages 600 and 602, which indicated that operational groups had carried out military actions in the region of South Ossetia for 72 hours to defeat the enemy and to restore Georgia’s authority in the area.
Responding, the representative of Georgia said that, since the beginning of the conflict, the Russian Federation side had groundlessly blamed Georgia for killing civilians and provoking the war. Russian Federation officials had, in that regard, referred to some human rights organizations as a source of information. Quoting from the report of the international fact-finding mission, she said, among other things, that there was no evidence that Georgia had deliberately targeted the civilian population. As for the use of certain types of weapons, the report had noted that the Georgian forces had used them “only against clear military objectives and not in populated areas”. She advised the Russian Federation delegation to remember their own history of gross human rights violations, before levelling accusations against others.
Responding to Azerbaijan, the representative of Armenia said her delegation had asked for the floor to express disappointment at Azerbaijan’s decision to use every agenda item to unleash anti-Armenian comments. It was not her intention to reply to the allegations or to focus on the unacceptable terminology of the Azerbaijani statement, but to explain that the statement contradicted the objective of the Committee. The international community had witnessed the policy of State terror against it own citizens when Azerbaijan had organized an armed mob to kill and torture innocent Armenians, including children, in Azerbaijani towns dense with Armenian citizens. Moreover, it had unleashed a full-scale war against the people of Nagorny Karabakh two decades ago, forcing children to become refugees and leaving thousands of their orphaned maimed.
She said the time had come to stop that behaviour and concentrate on the conflict-resolution process. Armenia strongly believed in the need of finding a comprehensive solution to the Nagorny Karabakh conflict, which created an atmosphere of hatred in which new generations of Azerbaijani children were brought up.
Responding, the representative of Azerbaijan said that his country did not try to politicize the issue, but had special concerns. The occupation by Armenia of Azerbaijani territories had exerted considerable influence in the humanitarian area, particularly for the most vulnerable, including children. His country suffered from the highest proportion of refugees and internally displaced persons, a large number of which were children. Armenia’s view was unconcealed propaganda and intended to mislead the international community. Instead of trying to contribute to restoring peace and stability to the region and ending the conflict, Armenia preferred “bellicose rhetoric” instead of engaging in a sober and serious search for peace.
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