|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
15th & 16th Meetings (AM & PM)
Strengthening Global Efforts against Criminal Financing, Money-Laundering, among
Issues Addressed, as Third Committee Approves Four Criminal Justice Texts
Also Approves Resolution on Year of Cooperatives, to Be Launched 31 October;
Hears Final Speakers on Advancement of Women, 30 Speakers on Rights of Children
Taking action for the first time this session, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today approved four draft resolutions that aim to bolster the global fight against transnational organized crime — including by strengthening international cooperation to curb money-laundering and terrorism financing — and a text that welcomes the launch of the International Year of Cooperatives, slated for 31 October.
By the text on strengthening international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows resulting from criminal activities — originally adopted by the Economic and Social Council and approved today without a vote, alongside three other criminal justice-relateddraft resolutions — the Assembly would urge Member States to establish or shore up national institutions specializing in financial intelligence and to consider global and regional initiatives to facilitate the tracing of criminal proceeds. It would also call on the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to continue providing technical assistance to States to enhance their capacity to combat money-laundering and the financing of terrorism.
The other criminal justice texts adopted today addressed international and national efforts to stop the looting, destruction, removal, theft and trafficking of cultural property; the scope of technical assistance that the UNODC provides States in countering terrorism; and follow-up to the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, held in Salvador, Brazil in 2010.
A fifth text, also approved by consensus, would have the Assembly invite Governments to consider developing a road map or plan of action for the promotion of cooperatives for sustainable socio-economic development beyond the 2012 observance of the International Year of Cooperatives.
In other business, the Committee concluded its discussion on the advancement of women, before resuming its debate on the promotion and protection of the rights of children. At the beginning of the discussion on child rights, Kenya’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the welfare and protection of children formed a “paramount component” for human and social development. A number of representatives outlined national and regional legislation and efforts which aimed to support children, the most vulnerable members of society, so they could achieve their potential.
Several other representatives emphasized the importance of improving the health and education sectors, particularly for girls, as a key way to allow children to develop to their fullest potential. The delegate of Barbados, on behalf of the Caribbean Community, said that by 2015, the region aimed to provide access to quality early childhood education to a minimum of 30 per cent of children under age 2 and 100 per cent of children aged 3 to 5.
Representatives also stressed that the needs of girls and boys with disabilities must be included in national plans, as well as international cooperation efforts, or another generation would be excluded from society. Among others, Norway’s delegate noted that children with disabilities faced superstition, stigma and negative attitudes, and the additional lack of knowledge about the abilities of those children often allowed their societies to treat them inhumanly and to ignore their rights.
A number of delegates also expressed deep concern for the number of children who continued to face violence, such as rape, being forced to bear arms as unlawful soldiers, and being used for exploitative labour. “The focus of many child-oriented initiatives in the General Assembly and Human Rights Council has rightly been on preventing and protecting against the violence, abuse and exploitation of children”, the United States delegate said.
Also today, the Committee heard the introduction of five draft resolutions concerning social development, crime prevention and criminal justice, and international drug control, which were introduced by delegates from Brazil, El Salvador, Italy, Uganda (on behalf of the African Group) and Mexico.
Also speaking today in the debate on the advancement of women were representatives of Zambia, Ecuador and Angola; the observer of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta; and representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross, International Organization for Migration, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Inter-Parliamentary Union, Food and Agriculture Organization, International Fund for Agricultural Development, and International Labour Organization Office for the United Nations.
During the debate on children’s rights, a Member of Parliament of Malaysia (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development of Nigeria and an Assistant Senior State Advocate, Ministry of Justice of Zambia also spoke.
Also participation in that discussion were delegates from Namibia (on behalf of the Southern African Development Community), Chile (on behalf of the Rio Group), Australia (also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand), Liechtenstein, Thailand, Russian Federation, Mongolia, Nicaragua, China, Egypt, Switzerland, Japan, Cuba, Yemen, Kyrgyzstan, Syria, India, Sudan, Algeria, Belarus, Peru and Pakistan.
A representative of the European Union also spoke.
The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Friday, 14 October, to continue its discussion on the promotion and protection of the rights of the child.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to conclude its discussion on the advancement of women and to continue its consideration of the promotion and protection of the rights of children. For more information on the advancement of women, see Press Release GA/SHC/4008. Press Release GA/SHC/4010 contains further details on children's rights.
PATRICIA CHISANGA KONDOLO (Zambia), aligning with statements by the Group of 77 and China, the Africa Group and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said her country’s national development plan had given priority to responsive policies and legislation, socio-economic empowerment of women and more effective gender mainstreaming. The Government was focusing on domestication of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to implement legal reforms, and was hopeful the exercise would be complete in the very near future. But gender based violence continued to be a concern in Zambia, which in April enacted laws that provided for criminalization of gender based violence, as well as protection for its survivors and provision of compensation.
Economic empowerment of women underpinned wider attainment of their rights, but even though the majority of Zambian women were active in trade and the informal economy, they continued to be hampered by lack of rights, resources and economic opportunities. In response to that challenge, the Government had set aside funds for women entrepreneurs, but they were far from meeting needs of the majority of women in need of financial support. Zambia’s Government was also implementing a strategy that institutionalized gender mainstreaming at all levels to accelerate implementation of the Beijing Platform for action and achievement of other internationally agreed development goals. She concluded by saying that achievement of gender equity was the primary responsibility of governments, but Zambia wished to see a strong, active role for UN-Women, through technical and financial assistance from Member States.
ANDRÉS FIALLO( Ecuador) stressed that particular attention must be paid to indigenous women, girls, older women, migrants and other particularly vulnerable groups. His Government was focused on building institutional capacity to allow for the technical and political involvement of women in State structures. It considered parity as a basis of women’s political participation and sought to protect women’s rights to physical and psychological integrity. In other areas, it was working to further reciprocity in the home, as well as to incorporate the interests and needs of women in national planning policies, including the fund for good living. The needs of indigenous women, mestizo women and women of African descent had been included in those policies.
He further stressed that the rights of women to participate in Government and management were also clearly acknowledged in State policy. Reaffirming Ecuador’s commitment to promoting and protecting the rights of women, he welcomed the work of UN-Women, particularly in terms of the sustainable management of natural resources and the biosphere, where the gender perspective must be included. The State also intended to introduce the gender perspectives into its macroeconomic policy, particularly regarding science and technology, he added.
HREINN LINDAL, observer of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, said his organization knew that investing in women and girls had a multiplier effect on sustainability and growth. He went on to highlight projects the Order had implemented with development partners. In rural Bolivia, for example, it had set up an education programme for women to attain essential skills, bringing stability and support to their area; and in rural Viet Nam, women had been provided education and entrepreneurial skills which expected to increase their incomes by as much as 70 per cent. To begin to reduce discrimination and violence against women, it was important to put social rights on an equal footing in public and private spaces.
In Afghanistan, where women and girls were still denied education in many areas, the Order had set up a new television channel to broadcast on issues of concern, such as health, psychology and foreign languages. It would reach half a million female viewers within two years, he said. In further efforts, the Order had set up in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, psycho-social counselling centres for girls brutalized by war there. The Order also fully supported measures to protect women migrant workers, and joined with the call for all States to facilitate prosecution and protection measures for them.
ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola), aligning with the Southern African Development Community, African Group and Group of 77 and China, noted his Government’s support to technical and scientific research and training, adding that Angolan women were stepping up their knowledge of science and innovative technologies in order to boost their employment prospects. The Government had also submitted three reports to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and was undertaking concerted action to implement its obligations under the Convention.
Despite the persistent gap between men and women regarding access to information and communications technology, there was a noticeable increase in the number of women among the educational ranks in those fields, he said. He noted State efforts to eradicate domestic and gender violence and underlined the Government’s special focus on greater assistance to disabled women. He expressed Angola’s “complete availability” to working toward the success of UN-Women and particularly welcomed that entity’s Strategic Plan for 2011-2013, which looked rich and comprehensive as a result of regional consultation. Angola had integrated the plan, which would rightly guide the next steps toward attaining the entity’s objectives, into its national agenda.
ROBERT YOUNG, of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said that over the last decade, the international community had come to recognize that women were among those most affected by armed conflict, and his organization was engaged daily with such women. In some countries where they were legally entitled to support or compensation, women found themselves without either, he said. It was important for all persons, but especially women and girls, to get improved access to health care in armed conflict and other situations of violence. “The health-care community cannot address these challenges alone. It is imperative that States, their armed forces and all others exercising authority recognize that violence that disrupts the delivery of health care is a serious and widespread humanitarian challenge, one that requires more focused attention from States throughout the world”, he said.
THOMAS ROHLAND, of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said women often moved to expand their livelihood opportunities as principal wage earners for their families, making decisions that empowered them and society, as a whole. At the same time, he said, women migrants were more exposed than men to exploitation and gender-based violence. Migration could be an empowering experience for women, provided circumstances and policies upheld safe and legal principles. “Gender sensitive migration policies are essential to promote the legal and safe migration of women migrant workers, including women domestic workers, while also protecting human rights. Fostering interstate dialogue and enhancing bilateral, regional, interregional and international cooperation is a key component of such policies”, he said.
ANNE CHRISTENSEN, of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said that in the face of crises such as the current drought in the Horn of Africa, women could be powerful drivers of resilience, recovery and development. “One concrete way to empower women, particularly rural women, is to scale up investments for women in agriculture”, she said. Research showing targeted investment in women farmers could improve yields by as much as 30 per cent, and that was too significant to ignore. Turning to the subject of gender-based violence, she said it was predictable, hence preventable. Eradicating gender-based violence required addressing underlying root causes, such as misuse of power, poverty, discrimination and stigma. Education was one of the best tools for changing mindsets, but an inclusive approach that involved men and relevant community stakeholders was also essential, she said.
ALESSANDRO MOTTER, of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, said a key measure of women’s empowerment in society at large was their participation in politics, and a quick look at relevant statistics over the past ten years gave ground for cautious optimism. “But we are far from parity. If current rates of progress continue — at less than 1 per cent a year — the Beijing target of 30 per cent of women in parliament will not be reached until 2025, and parity would have to wait 50 more years”, he said. Electoral systems matter, while special temporary measures were key. Many countries that had recently undergone a transition period managed to take advantage of that time of reform to address past discriminations and adopt legal frameworks that facilitated women’s equal participation. Well thought-out electoral processes were also key to empowering women in political participation, while institutions also had to ensure they were gender-sensitive, he said.
LILA RATSIFANDRIHAMANANA, of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said the latest report by her organization showed that in all developing countries, female farmers had lower yields than their male counterparts because they did not have the same access to resources. Women tended to have smaller plots of land of inferior quality, typically with less secure tenure, and were less likely to use fertilizers and pesticides, because they could not afford them or lacked the necessary training. Making sure rural women had decent incomes and greater equality in agriculture would improve health, nutrition and education outcomes for children, helping build the human capital of future generation to contribute to long-term economic growth. To close the rural gender gap, gender equality must be guaranteed both on paper and in practice, and Government officials at all levels must be held accountable for realization of those rights, she said.
XENIA VON LILIEN-WALDAU, of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Liaison Office in New York, said the linkage between gender equality and economic and social development was critical to IFAD’s work to increase food security, nutrition and the incomes of poor rural women and men in developing countries. Traditional gender roles were deeply entrenched in rural areas, and gender inequalities took a heavy toll on the economic and welfare prospects, not only of rural women and girls, but of their households and societies. The unequal access of women and men farmers to productive inputs resulted in an estimated average yield gap of 25 per cent. When constraints faced by women farmers were overcome, agricultural productivity increased, and there were priority actions needed to empower rural women, which included: tackling gender inequalities in agricultural value chains; strengthening the capacity of women and girls to farm more sustainably and productively; and supporting rural women’s leadership.
KEVIN CASSIDY, of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Office for the United Nations, said ILO was a staunch advocate for women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in the world of work through the promotion of international labour standards and the Decent Work Agenda. However, in the wake of the global economic crisis, women everywhere were struggling to find decent work, and much of the work secured by women migrants was in the informal economy. In that regard, domestic work was an area of great impact on women’s empowerment and gender equality and a focus for ILO. ILO’s work on the advancement of women was furthered through research, knowledge sharing and policy advice. The 2009 International Labour Conference Resolution, concerning gender equality at the heart of decent work, emphasized social dialogue and tripartism as essential policy tools. The social protection floor initiative, led by ILO and the World Health Organization (WHO) was another key development that would have an important impact on women’s empowerment.
Statements on Children’s Rights
Before opening the floor, the Chair informed the Committee that the speaker’s list had been put together on the basis of an agreement reached during informal consultations yesterday. It was, he stressed, an intermediary measure without prejudice to any final agreement and was put forward on the understanding that it would not be challenged. Indeed, it was simply a practical measure by the Chair to enable the Committee to continue its work.
MACHARIA KAMAU ( Kenya), on behalf of the African Group, said rights, welfare and protection of the child formed a “paramount component” for human and social development. African States were dedicated individually and collectively to take the necessary measures to ensure protection, survival and development of the child; at the African Union Summit in January 2008, they committed to measures such as a review every five years of progress implementing their plan of action for children and strengthening the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child to monitor key provisions of their plan.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other partners had enhanced that work, and African Union reports showed structural arrangements had emerged that mainstreamed the rights and welfare of the child into broad national and regional development frameworks to ensure sustainable progress and reforms. Challenges to the girl child permeated all sectors of life, including child and forced marriage, abuse, exploitation and inadequate access to nutrition services. “Some of these are due to the inability of the parents and caregivers to provide, while others are due to harmful traditional practices”, he said. In that regard, the African Union had a recent conference in Addis Ababa on tools to combat harmful traditional practices.
The African Union also endorsed the adoption of a resolution to ban Female Genital Mutilation during the current session of the General Assembly, he said. To promote and protect the rights of children, it was imperative to adhere to the Plan of Action adopted during the Special Session of the General Assembly on Children. “To achieve these objectives and sustain the achievements, we need to focus on empowering children, parents, care givers, as well as the communities in which they live. We must, therefore, support measures that will foster economic growth and accelerate social development that will yield such empowerment”, he said.
JOSEPH GODDARD (Barbados), speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM), stressed that education was both a human right and a human need, as well as the key means allowing children to develop their fullest potential. Recognizing the need to take full advantage of early childhood’s development window, the Caribbean region was prioritizing quality, universal, early childhood education, which was critical in laying the foundation for primary education. To that end, the region aimed to provide a minimum of 30 per cent of children under age 2 and 100 per cent of children in the 3 to 5 age group with access to quality early childhood education by 2015. A Framework for Action for Children was also being developed to track progress towards “Education for All” and harmonize policies, regulations and standards. The framework would further facilitate the completion of a Caribbean Child Status Report slated for finalization in 2015.
With very few exceptions, children living in the Caribbean region were, he said, born healthy, had access to good health, enjoyed high immunization rates and low under-five mortality rates, and exhibited good performances in human development indicators, he said. The Community had renewed its resolve to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV through the provision of free anti-retroviral drugs to HIV-positive mothers and had set 2015 as a target for eliminating vertical transmission. He noted that technological and societal development had dramatically altered childhood recreation activities and insufficient physical activity, combined with unhealthy diets, had increased the number of overweight and obese children. In that regard, regional States continued to aggressively combat the lifestyle and other factors leading to non-communicable diseases and to ensure that their children reached the highest attainable health standards.
The Committee’s annual resolution on the rights of the child would focus on the rights of children with disabilities, he said, noting that, “the discrimination faced by children with disabilities is not due the intrinsic nature of their disability, but entirely to social factors — ignorance, prejudice, the fear and rejection of difference and insufficient services and support”. He underlined regional efforts to implement policies and programmes, including public awareness campaigns, to enable the full realization of children’s rights. He further stressed the need for international cooperation to improve the living conditions of children living with disabilities, particularly in developing countries. Finally, he drew attention to the impact of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti on the lives of that country’s children.
WILFRIED I. EMVULA (Namibia), on behalf of the Southern African Development Community, said its Member States were concerned that millions of children worldwide continued to live in poverty, and were experiencing hunger, disease, abuse and exploitation. They were committed to full implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, emphasizing health and education sectors. The region, like many others, experienced a high burden of communicable diseases, which greatly affected children and slowed down the development process. It had adopted a multi-sectoral HIV and AIDS strategy, and had made steady progress, with a five-year plan to ensure a more effective response to the serious public health concern.
There was also concern with growing trafficking in persons, especially women and children, and the region had adopted a ten-year plan of action for cooperation to prevent and combat the phenomenon. Member States were also striving to provide better education and skills development, and promote science, technology and entrepreneurship. “We believe that healthy and educated children stand a better chance of becoming adults who can create improved living conditions for themselves and contribute towards achieving lasting and sustainable development in the region”, he said. But, there were still many challenges for quality education amid great concerns caused by unavailability of adequate resources — he appealed to the international community for additional resources to meet the goals of the Plan of Action.
In conclusion, he told the Committee that this year, as in previous ones, SADC had sponsored a resolution on the Girl Child. The region had been leading the call to bring attention to the situation of the girl child, who in many parts of the world faced multiple challenges, and was committed to keeping the issue on the international agenda until the girl child claimed her place as equal in all societies. He hoped the resolution would be adopted by consensus, as had been the case in previous session.
MOHSIN FADZLI HAJI SAMSURI, a Member of Parliament of Malaysia who spoke on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), recalled that the group’s member States had signed the Declaration on the Commitments for Children in ASEAN — a guiding principle for enhancing child protection, development and survival — in 2001. However, their pledge to children had begun long before that declaration. In 1993, they had signed the ASEAN Plan of Action for Children, which provided the framework for promoting relevant regional cooperation. Addressing the three priority areas of child survival, child protection and child development, the Plan of Action was in line with the region’s “Vision 2020” framework, he added, recalling that Vision 2020 envisioned a region free of hunger, deprivation and poverty.
Bearing that vision in mind, ASEAN had set the survival, development, protection and participation of children as a priority of its regional cooperation. In that regard, it also promoted the empowerment and participation of women and children in community building. In April 2010, for example, it had created the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), whose functions included promoting the implementation of international, regional and other instruments related to the rights of women and children, as well as developing policies, programmes and innovative strategies to promote and protect their rights. Additionally, the Commission promoted public awareness and education of the rights of women and children across the region and engaged in dialogues with global stakeholders — including United Nations entities — on critical issues.
The ASEAN member States had provided the Commission with mandates in the area of policy, programme and strategy development, he continued, citing as examples the thematic areas of Early Childhood Care and Development, child trafficking, children affected by war, armed conflict and disasters, among others. The region took great pride in the progress made with regard to children’s development. In 2008, in response to a recommendation made by children themselves, a Children’s Forum — which provided a significant venue for the participation of young people — was established to give children a “regional voice”. The Forum had been attended by 32 children aged 13 to 20, accompanied by their mentors from ASEAN member States. Such a venue was an important communications bridge between the children and Government, in building a people-oriented ASEAN Community, he stressed.
CHARLOTTA SCHLYTER, observer of the European Union, said the Lisbon Treaty explicitly required the bloc to actively promote the rights of the child, while the Charter of Fundamental Rights recognized that children were independent and autonomous rights holders. All European Union member States had ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its standards and principles would continue to guide European policies and actions impacting children’s rights. The Union highlighted the importance of the Optional Protocols on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the involvement of children in armed conflict and supported their universal ratification. It welcomed the adoption by the Human Rights Council of a third optional protocol.
Stressing that children with disabilities were more likely to suffer multiple forms of discrimination, putting them in greater need of protection, she noted that this year’s resolution on the rights of children would focus on that vulnerable group. Hopefully, the resolution would guide all Member States in adopting comprehensive policies to effect change on the ground, she said. To address violence against children, the Union had, in February 2011, adopted an “Agenda for the Rights of the Child”, which focused on child-friendly justice, protecting children in vulnerable situations and combating violence against children within and beyond the bloc. It specifically identified Roma children as a vulnerable group, and on 5 April 2011 the European Community put forward a framework for national Roma integration strategies, which would guide national Roma policies and mobilize funds, with a focus on the four pillars of access to education, jobs, healthcare and housing.
She underscored that more than 200 million children worldwide were subject to sexual violence, more than 50,000 died in homicides each year and up to 2 million were treated in hospitals for violence-related injuries. For its part, the Union would continue to implement its Guidelines on the Rights of the Child, which focused on combating all forms of violence against children. It would also continue to ensure that children who worked did so under conditions appropriate to their age and physical, mental and social development. Moreover, its member States believed that a comprehensive approach was needed to address the economic exploitation of children and tackle its root causes. The Union also called for the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for Children and Armed Conflict. Both its new legislation on human trafficking and its forthcoming law on child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and child pornography followed a holistic approach to prosecute offenders, protect child victims and prevent those crimes. In June 2011, the bloc also adopted a Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, which would strengthen its support for combating gender-based violence and all forms of discrimination against women and girls worldwide.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ ( Chile), speaking for the Rio Group, said signing and ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols would significantly help to ensure all children fully enjoyed their human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Rio Group would continue to participate in negotiations on the omnibus draft resolution on the rights of the child. Turning to the rights of children with disabilities, specifically, he hoped the Committee’s deliberations on the matter would allow States to focus on a group disproportionately at risk of violence, neglect and abuse. One in five children in developing countries was a child with a disability, he said. The needs of these children had to be prioritized and national development policies and programmes needed to integrate and mainstream children with disabilities into their agendas. States should fully comply with the relevant international conventions and recommendations, remove barriers to discrimination against children with disabilities and introduce the concept of “reasonable accommodation” for those children.
Regarding children who had been abducted, he appealed to Member States to adopt measures to prevent and sanction practices connected with enforced disappearance and to cooperate in the search for and identification of victims, returning those children to their rightful families. For all children, international cooperation and development could encourage children’s participation and supportive national policies could promote their well-being. Civil society organizations, private initiatives and the media all had an important role to play in that regard.
With respect to girls, he said the “gender perspective” was important. As for those children who were victimized by reprehensible practices such as trafficking, sexual exploitation, rape, abuse, sale of organs, sex tourism and child pornography, they were particularly vulnerable; that conduct was even more serious when practiced in the context of poverty, social inequality, discrimination, migration, insecurity and organized crime. It was, therefore, critical to tackle the underlying causes of those circumstances. Despite efforts to curb it, he said, violence against children was still widespread. The Rio Group was committed to working with the United Nations on several fronts: to raise international standards; strengthen and consolidate existing international instruments and mechanisms; attain the Millennium Development Goals related to children; and to fulfil the Declaration and Plan of Action for “A world fit for children”.
HELEN HORSINGTON (Australia), speaking also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, said while much had been achieved over the past decade, many fundamental challenges remained. Millions of children throughout the world continued to live in poverty-stricken conditions, and experience daily a lack of adequate food, shelter and access to health and education facilities. From the famine in the Horn of Africa, as many as 15 children per 10,000 under the age of 5 died each day. “Clearly this is a disaster of monumental proportions, one which will require our collective resolve to address”, she said.
On the rights of homeless children, among the most vulnerable young people in society, she welcomed the Human Rights Council’s upcoming focus on that issue. She also welcomed the focus on children with disabilities in this year’s resolution on the “Rights of the Child” and noted Canada, Australia and New Zealand were pleased to have contributed to the discussion at the high-level meeting on youth about involving them through dialogue. The three countries also recognized girls faced particular challenges, and urged Member States to support adoption of an International Day of the Girl by the General Assembly. “Evidence shows that investing in girls brings better development results than investing in any other demographic group”, she said.
HAJIA ZAINAB MAINA, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development of Nigeria, said her country had made considerable progress in its adhesion to all major international instruments regarding the rights of the child. Nigeria’s 2003 Child Rights Act included provisions for a new Child Justice Administration, as well as the prohibition of female genital mutilation, street hawking, early girl child marriage and trafficking of children. Currently, efforts were being made to establish a Child Protection Network at the community level. As there were an estimated 17 million orphans and vulnerable children in Nigeria, a five-year national action plan had been adopted to increase their access to health, nutrition and education.
She said the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons was charged with the responsibility of preventing trafficking, rehabilitating trafficked persons and prosecuting traffickers. Shelters were being established to rehabilitate and reintegrate rescued trafficked children with their families. Various intervention strategies had been put in place to enhance the education opportunities of the girl child. The establishment of the Children’s Parliament at the national and State levels had given the Nigerian child a big voice in their own affairs. Children can now air their views and contribute directly to policy formulation and implementation, and thereby to national development.
MANUEL FRICK ( Liechtenstein) said that the United Nations child protection framework was “one of its great success stories” and an outstanding example for good coordination among the actors involved. Liechtenstein continued to support the Convention and the work of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and had ratified the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict and supported the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict. He looked forward to renewal of that mandate this year. He also recalled the responsibility of States to prosecute those responsible for grave violations against children in armed conflicts and the complementary role of the International Criminal Court where States failed that responsibility.
He looked forward to the establishment of a complaint procedure for violations of children’s rights and an inquiry procedure for grave or systematic violations, and regretted the opt-out option for inquiry. While he also had hoped for a collective complaints procedure, he welcomed the absence of restrictions on who could file a complaint within the individual communications system. Further, he appreciated the focus given to implementation of the rights of children with disabilities, who were among the most marginalized. Women and girls with disabilities were often at greater risk of violence, injury or abuse, he added. Further, the Millennium Goals would not be achieved if the situation of people with disabilities were not mainstreamed in development policies, programmes and in monitoring and evaluations.
NORACHIT SINHASENI ( Thailand) said it was clear that, despite progress, children continued to face immense challenges and continued commitments and effective action depended on critical efforts to coordinate all stakeholders. For its part, Thailand was party to the Child Rights Convention and its Optional Protocol. It had recently withdrawn its reservation to article 7 of that treaty and now allowed birth registration for all children, regardless of their nationality, on an equal basis. It agreed that an appropriate legal framework for preventing and responding to violence against children was needed and the 2003 Child Protection Act and the 2010 Act and Procedures for Juveniles and Family were concrete examples of progress in that area. Because protecting children was also about empowering them, the State was implementing 15 years of free education for all, from kindergarten to high school. Thailand’s Persons with Disabilities Education Act reaffirmed the right of the disabled to access education at all levels. The use of information and communications technologies was also providing remote education for disabled students in rural areas.
Thailand shared the view, he said, that domestic violence, child pornography, child sexual abuse, trafficking in persons and various involvements with narcotic drugs required effective law enforcement in parallel with awareness-raising efforts, particularly in rural areas. Heightened child-sensitivity from law enforcement officials was especially critical. A sub-committee had been set up to oversee planning and policies to prevent trafficking in persons linked with child tourism. One-Stop Crisis Centres in hospitals paid particular attention to girls, in particular concerning the prevention of early pregnancy. The Labour Protection Act prohibited the employment of children under age 15 and Children and Youth councils served as forums for the participation of young people in policy development processes. Thailand considered that the overlapping directives of United Nations mandate holders aiming at stronger child protection systems presented challenges, and the Organization should explore opportunities for more coordinated, comprehensive and effective support, particularly in light of current economic constraints.
NIKOLAY RAKOVSKIY ( Russian Federation) said coordinated actions to protect the rights of children were particularly important during the ongoing global financial crisis, which had hit minors particularly hard. The Russian Federation believed that strengthening those measures for children was crucial and caring for the physical and moral health of children, while nurturing potential, was a focus of the country. It was committed to international legal standards, and was continuing work to accede to the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. In recent years, the country had also increased prison sentences for child abusers and increased the monitoring of paedophiles who had been released after serving sentences.
His country was also seeking to respond to new threats from the rapid development of new technology, as 3- or 4-year-old children were now being fed enormous amounts of information and advertising, and needed to be protected from scenes of violence and aggression. In that regard, a new law had been signed by the President to protect children from information causing harm to health and development. The Russian Federation also continued to attach particular attention to children with disabilities, as well as those deprived of parental care or in state homes, while Government agencies also strove to protect minors’ rights, cooperating with regional organizations and carrying out work on such issues as adoptions. The younger generation, the future of Russia, would continue to be an unconditional priority.
Introduction of Draft Texts
Introducing the draft resolution on the tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers (document A/C.3/66/L.6), Brazil’s delegate said volunteerism was increasingly important, not only to combat discrimination, but also to support disasters and humanitarian crises and building a more peaceful environment. He invited all Members to cooperate on this important issue and join in the endeavour.
Called upon to introduce the follow-up to the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and beyond (document A/C.3/66/L.12), the representative of Argentina apologized and said he did not know the draft resolution would be introduced today. He asked to defer.
El Salvador’s representative then introduced the draft resolution on brain education as a tool for implementing the Millennium Development Goals and contributing to global peace and development (document A/C.3/66/L.14), saying education was an important multiplying factor towards achieving peace and development. Education should be considered in a comprehensive manner, so it could be an effective vehicle for learning and changing reality, and the resolution provided a systematic way of education, sharing a specific idea developed in an El Salvador school district. There would be open and formal consultations next week to reach the necessary consensus for the resolution.
Introducing a draft resolution on strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity (document A/C.3/66/L.15), Italy’s representative said transnational organized crime was global threat that jeopardized security, obstructed the functioning of public institutions, undermined respect for human rights and harmed legitimate economic nativities. It directly impacted human welfare, as well as long-term economic growth and social development. Since no State could defeat transnational organized crime on its own, the text called for international cooperation.
In that regard, he stressed that the Palermo Convention provided an incomparable foundation for this, but universal adherence was needed. The text sought to grant greater visibility to the issue of transnational organized crime, call for the implementation of the Convention against Transnational Organized crime and confirm the Organisation’s support for the technical assistance provided by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in these matters. It contained a few essential updates to last year’s text, but preserved the balanced solutions that enjoyed broad support, he said before highlighting those changes.
The representative of Uganda, speaking on behalf of the African Group, then introduced a draft resolution on the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (document A/C.3/66/L.17). Among other things, she said the text noted that Africa was registering high levels of crime, ranging from cybercrime to piracy, and other emerging and persistent types of crime. It introduced a new paragraph on the need for the Institute to recognize the link between crime prevention strategies and activities that promote development based on sustainable agricultural production and preservation of the environment. It also called for the Secretary-General to mobilize the necessary resources to allow the Institute’s core staff to continue carrying out its work.
Finally, the representative of Mexico introduced a draft resolution on international cooperation against the world drug problem (document A/C.3/66/L.16). Stressing that it was essential for the global drug problem to be tackled at the international level, he said it was important to maintain that subject’s high profile. Among other things, the text had been enriched with direct references to thematic debates and resolutions from the Drug Control Board. He underscored that the community must not shrink from addressing the drug issue from both the supply and demand perspectives, arguing that national and global efforts would be undermined if anti-drug strategies did not incorporate both sides of the question. In that regard, it was indispensable to revitalize the principle of common and shared responsibility as the axis of international efforts to deal with the scourge.
He said it was equally necessary to acknowledge that the criminal organizations engaged in drug trafficking had increased their power in many regions, including Mexico. To that end, it was critical to bolster actions and mechanisms to combat drug and arms trafficking jointly.
Action on Texts
The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on cooperatives in social development (document A/C.3/66/L.9), which was introduced by the representative of Mongolia, who announced three minor oral revisions. By that text, the Assembly would welcome the proclamation of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, which would launch on 31 October 2011. By other terms, the Assembly would invite Governments to consider developing a road map or plan of action for the promotion of cooperatives for sustainable socio-economic development beyond the Year, while further urging them, with relevant partners, to consider the role and contribution of cooperatives in implementing the outcomes to other significant meetings, such as the World Summit for Social Development and the World Food Summit.
The draft would also have the Assembly urge Governments to facilitate the establishment and development of cooperatives, including by enabling people living in poverty or belonging to vulnerable groups to fully participate in those ventures. The Secretary-General would be requested to continue supporting, in cooperation with the relevant United Nations and other international, regional and national organizations, Member States in their efforts to create a supportive environment for the development of cooperatives. He would also be requested to submit to the Assembly during its sixty-eighth session a report on the implementation of the present resolution, including an overview of the activities that have been implemented during the International Year.
Acting without a vote, the Committee approved that draft text, as orally revised.
It then took up four draft resolutions forwarded by the Economic and Social Council. By the first, on strengthening international cooperation in combating the harmful effects of illicit financial flows resulting from criminal activities (document A/C.3/66/L.2), the Assembly would urge States parties to the Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988, the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Convention against Corruption to apply fully the provisions of those treaties, particularly those aimed at preventing and combating money-laundering.
By further terms, it would also urge Member States to consider taking all necessary measures to ensure that they do not provide a safe haven for wanted fugitives who have accumulated or are harbouring proceeds of crime derived from transnational organized crime or who finance organized crime or criminal organizations. States would also be urged to establish or strengthen national institutions specializing in financial intelligence by allowing them to receive, obtain, analyse and disseminate financial information relevant to preventing, detecting and deterring illicit financial flows resulting from transnational organized crime.
The Assembly would also call on the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to continue providing technical assistance, upon request, to States, in order to enhance their capacity to collect, analyse and report data on illicit financial flows and to combat money-laundering and the financing of terrorism through the Global Programme against Money-Laundering, Proceeds of Crime and the Financing of Terrorism.
The Secretary informed the Committee that additional extra-budgetary funding would be required by the provisions contained in operative paragraphs 11 to 15 of $186,500 for the development of a new data collection instruments; $3.5 million for the annual budget of the Global Programme against Money-laundering, all of which is extra-budgetary; $162,900 for specific research on the financial dimensions of transnational organize crime and drug trafficking; and $1.5 million for field and essential headquarters operations of the Global Programme to implement the 11 recommendations made by the Independent Evaluation Unit. Should additional budgetary resources not be provided, such activities would not take place.
Acting again without a vote, the Committee approved the text.
It then turned to a draft resolution on technical assistance for implementing the international conventions and protocols related to counter-terrorism (document A/C.3/66/L.3), which would have the Assembly urge Member States to continue to strengthen international coordination and cooperation in order to prevent and combat terrorism in accordance with international law, and, when appropriate, by entering into bilateral and multilateral treaties on extradition and mutual legal assistance.
By further terms it would request UNODC to take into account in its technical assistance to counter terrorism the elements necessary for building national capacity in order to strengthen criminal justice systems and the rule of law. That Office would also be called on to develop, within its mandate, its technical assistance programmes to assist States in ratifying and implementing terrorism-related international legal instruments. The Assembly would also request that the Secretary-General provide UNODC with sufficient resources to carry out activities aiding States in implementing the relevant elements of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
The Secretary informed the Committee that the resolution’s adoption would not entail any additional appropriations under the programme budget for the 2010-2011 biennium.
The Committee then approved without a vote a draft resolution on follow-up to the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and preparations for the Thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (document A/C.3/66/L.4). By that text, the Assembly would reiterate its invitation to Governments to take into consideration the Salvador Declaration, as well as the recommendations adopted by the Twelfth United Nations Congress, when formulating legislation and policy directives. It would also invite States to provide suggestions on the overall theme, agenda items and topics for the workshops of the Thirteenth United Nations Congress and request the Secretary-General to report to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice on those suggestions at its twenty-first session.
The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice responses to protect cultural property, especially with regard to its trafficking (document A/C.3/66/L.5). By that text, the Assembly would encourage States and relevant international organizations to strengthen efforts to protect cultural property and prevent its trafficking in order to provide the widest possible international cooperation to address such crimes, including through extradition, mutual legal assistance and the confiscation and return of stolen cultural property to its rightful owner.
The Assembly would request UNODC, through State consultations and in close cooperation with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and other competent organizations, to explore the development of specific guidelines for preventing and prosecuting trafficking in cultural property. UNODC would also be asked to explore the possibilities for the collection, analysis and dissemination of relevant data and to assist States in strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice responses to protect cultural property.
The Secretary informed the Committee that operative paragraphs 3 and 8 would require additional extra-budgetary resources amounting to $244,400 to convene an intergovernmental expert group meeting for five days. Operative paragraph 9(a) would require additional extra-budgetary resources amounting to $335,000 for the development of specific guidelines for crime prevention related to trafficking in cultural property. Additional extra-budgetary resources would also be required to undertake a feasibility study on the collection of data on trafficking in cultural property called for in operative paragraph 9(b). Should additional budgetary resources not be provided, such activities would not take place.
Acting again without a vote, the Committee then approved that text.
Statements on Rights of Children
MARIA ELENA MEDAL ( Nicaragua) said her Government acknowledged protection and promotion of children was a task to be shared by the State, community, family and all of society. Its national development plan aimed to make the most of human capacities, eliminating social exclusion and promoting equality. Almost half of Nicaragua’s population was under 18, and the country had enacted programmes to guarantee their rights to live in normal conditions with their families, in risk-free streets. It had set up centres for child development, ensured those with disabilities received care, and reduced the number of children not on civic registers by 20 per cent — an important achievement.
Nicaragua’s Ministry of Education had also adopted special policies for better curriculums, teachers, students and schools. It had increased the number of children in school in all phases, hoping for universal primary education by 2012 and universal secondary education by 2015. Nicaragua had also made progress against maternal and child mortality and chronic child malnutrition. A comprehensive nutrition programme provided for over one million children last year, not only reducing food insecurity, but also improving school attendance. The Ministry of Work was also enacting a comprehensive plan to eradicate child labour by 2020, while the criminal code from 2007 punished all abuses of children.
MAN ANTING ( China) said her country would always uphold the principle of “child first” and had implemented development strategies under that principle to fully safeguard the rights of children to life, development, protection and participation. It now had quite a complete system in place. Similarly, the final evaluation of the China Children’s Development Outline 2001-2010 concluded that the goals and objectives in that outline had largely been achieved. Children’s health and nutrition had improved, while mortality rates for infants and children under 5 had dropped. Vaccination rates were now over 90 per cent. More and more children also had access to education. Building on those achievements, the Government had issued a subsequent development outline for 2011-2020 containing a series of general goals to, for example, improve the primary healthcare system for urban and rural children and establish a proper children’s welfare system. Specific indicators were also included.
China was fulfilling its obligations under those international human rights instruments to which it was party, she said. The Government took a constructive role in helping draft a third Optional Protocol on communication procedures to the Child Rights Convention and was pleased that the draft protocol had been adopted by consensus by the Human Rights Council. Since the rights covered by that Convention lay largely in the realm of economic, social and cultural rights, the principles of “the maximum extent allowed by the resources of States parties” and “gradual realization” should be kept in mind when promoting the attainment of those rights.
KELLY LAUREN RAZZOUK ( United States) said her country was deeply concerned that children continued to be killed, maimed, raped, sexually abused, forced to bear arms as unlawful soldiers, forced into sexual slavery and used for exploitative labour. “The focus of many child-oriented initiatives in the General Assembly and Human Rights Council has rightly been on preventing and protecting against the violence, abuse and exploitation of children”, she said.
Over the past decade, the United States had implemented several national reforms in effort to address issues that faced its children. An extensive network of federal, state and local programmes protected them in areas such as child pornography, sexual exploitation, health care, foster care and education. Public schools were required to make available free appropriate education to children with disabilities, while teachers committing to working in identified high-need fields were granted funds to help them obtain their undergraduate and master’s degrees. The United States was committed to providing equal educational opportunities to all children, and called on all States to meet their international legal obligations to protect children and promote the rights of the child.
TINE MORCH SMITH ( Norway) stressed that girls and boys with disabilities can no longer remain invisible in national plans and in international cooperation. The Child Rights Convention, reinforced by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, asserted the rights of every girl and boy to have access to education, which was the means to social inclusion and a livelihood. Thus, education must be provided to everyone independent of disability or chronic disease. Out of 100 million girls and boys with disabilities under 5 years of age, 80 per cent lived in developing countries, and unless Government policies and international development cooperation included disabled girls and boys in their plans, another generation of persons with disabilities would be excluded from society. The Millennium Development Goal on education would also go unrealized.
Further noting that children with disabilities faced superstition, stigma and negative attitudes, she said the additional lack of knowledge about the abilities of those children made it possible for societies to treat them inhumanly and to ignore their rights. Residential institutions, which often excluded children from natural participation in society, were still used to house those children in some regions. Those institutions could constitute cruel and inhuman treatment. Indeed, children sometimes suffered from an intentional lack of medical treatment that sometimes resulted in their deaths. Norway closed down its residential institutions for the disabled in 1991 based on its belief that children with disabilities should live with their families and be included in society, education, sports and social life. Moreover, it would soon launch a renewed strategy for children with disabilities and their families.
AMIRA FAHMY (Egypt), aligning with the African Group and the Arab Group, said her country had always been an advocate for children’s rights and fully supported the Committee on the Rights of the Child. Egypt looked forward to the outcome of the global survey by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children, fully supporting her efforts to present a comprehensive report. She strongly condemned any practice that involved children in armed conflict, as either combatants or exploited victims, and stressed that criminalizing all such violations should deter their commission. She strongly supported the campaign for universal ratification by 2012 of the Optional Protocol on children’s involvement in armed conflict.
Turning to education, she stressed that access to education in a safe environment for children and teachers, as well as access to health services, must be guaranteed. Egypt rejected any acts directed at schools and hospitals, and in that vein, supported Security Council resolution 1998 (2011) declaring those institutions off limits for armed groups and military activities. She also condemned the growing number of attacks by Israel on such facilities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. For its part, Egypt had worked to ensure children’s welfare through a comprehensive protective legislative framework, but still lacked a database on the magnitude of the problems to be addressed. Its priorities included improving education curricula to promote democracy and human rights, combating school drop-out rates, and fighting all forms of violence against children, including female genital mutilation (FGM).
MWAKA NDHLOVU, Assistant Senior State Advocate, Ministry of Justice, Zambia, stressed her country’s commitment to promoting and protecting children’s rights. The Zambian Government had created a national child policy and a national action plan to improve the welfare and quality of children’s lives, as well as to ensure their survival and foster their development. Zambia was poised to set up a National Council for the Child, and the Zambian Parliament would soon consider legislation to formalize its establishment. The Zambian Government had also taken steps to prevent violence against women and girls. The newly enacted Anti-Gender Violence Act was an efficient mechanism to protect children, particularly girls. Under the Act, safe houses and rehabilitation facilities for victims of violence had been created. The Zambian Police Service’s victims’ support unit and its child protection unit were charged with safeguarding children’s rights and ensuring that the law was enforced when children were abused and neglected.
Zambia had a “zero tolerance” policy toward child exploitation, she said. To that end, the Zambian Government had revised its national child policy to incorporate issues concerning sexual and labour exploitation. It had also amended the Penal Code to stamp out and protect children from child pornography and harmful cultural practices, and to strengthen penalties for defilement, child trafficking and child prostitution. To ensure children’s development and survival, the Zambian Government offered free healthcare services for children under the age of 5, programmes for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS, and a primary health care programme, among others. In recent years, the Government had integrated HIV/AIDS education programmes into school curricula. Also, the Government’s national policy on disability guided efforts to promote the rights of disabled children, track and evaluate disaggregated statistical data on those children, and develop programmes to assist them.
CHRISTINE LÖW ( Switzerland) called on States that had not yet ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols to do so, underlining the importance of effective implementation of those instruments to better protect the rights of the child. The report of the Special representative on violence against children was a reminder that many children remained vulnerable to rights violations, despite some achievements in school attendance and medical care. Particular attention must be paid to inform children of their rights, to give them the possibility to be heard and to facilitate their access to adapted procedures, so that their rights would be respected. Children must be able to obtain reparation and be fully reintegrated into society.
She welcomed the decision to focus on implementation of the rights of children with disabilities, and those most marginalized and excluded. Children with disabilities should receive special protection against violence and sexual violence, due to the increased risk they incurred. They had the right to an inclusive, quality education, to be socially integrated and to be unaffected by poverty. Fulfilment of those rights presented a special challenge to the international community. She also supported the recommendation of the Human Rights Council to adopt the Optional Protocol to the Convention providing for a communications procedure. In closing, she said that it was vital that parties who failed to respect their obligations regarding children and armed conflict be held responsible.
ATSUKO HESHIKI ( Japan) said many children had been exposed to danger under armed conflict, and her Government, as co-sponsor, welcomed the adoption of Security Council resolution 1998, which aimed to deter attacks against schools and hospitals. Japan would also make further efforts to strengthen the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols. Domestic legal framework was indispensible in the protection and promotion of the rights of the child, and the Government of Japan hoped more countries would ratify the convention and its protocols. To tackle a number of threats against children, Japan had been making rigorous efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, committing $8.5 billion over five years to support the health and education sectors.
Japan would also provide for continuous care from pregnancy to after childbirth, as well as basic education support, contributing to human security for children. “Apart from domestic efforts, international cooperation is indispensable in protecting children from international threats and crimes such as the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography”, she said. Rapid expansion of technology systems also posed a grave threat to children, and her Government had adopted measures to eliminate child pornography. To further protect children, Japan had amended its civil code this year to suspend parents’ rights for cases of serious child abuse.
LISANDRA ASTIASARÁN ARIAS (Cuba) said her delegation was concerned about data on infant mortality caused by preventable diseases, and on infant suffering due to hunger, poverty, inequality and social exclusion. Describing the scope of those challenges, she stressed that, instead of spending trillions of dollars on weapons, those vast resources should be invested in the wellbeing and development of the world’s people — particularly children. Cuba became a State party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, but its programmes in support of children and adolescents had been in place since the Cuban Revolution in 1959, 30 years ahead of the Convention. Thanks to the will of the Cuban Government, the promotion and protection of the rights of children and adolescents was a high priority, she said, adding that the existence of a completely free healthcare system of renowned quality and a universal and equally free education at all levels constituted “essential pillars” in the implementation of that priority.
More than half of the State budget expenditures were incurred by health care, education, welfare, social security and culture, she continued. In particular, educational expenditures had more than tripled from 2000 to 2009, now accounting for 19.4 per cent of the country’s total expenditures in 2011. Additionally, infant mortality had dropped significantly. In 2010 it had been 4.5 per 1,000 live births and was registered at zero in 21 municipalities. Priority attention had been given to mothers and children, the integration of primary health care and hospital infrastructure, child vaccination and the early detection of congenital diseases. Cuba had implemented the six goals of the UNESCO Education for All Initiative, he added, as well as Millennium Development Goals 3 and 4. However, the commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States against the will of the international community — which Cuba planned to reject again this year at the United Nations — presented a serious challenge. In that regard, she pointed out the Cuban public health sector had lost $15 million in the last year, and currently faced obstacles in buying the proper materials for children.
TAHA AL-AWADHI ( Yemen) said his country was aware that children were the generation of the future and would have to build the modern Yemen, and that was why it had been one of the first countries to sign the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991. Yemen had had passed laws to help children and created institutional mechanisms to implement that legislation. Yemen was also currently creating networks to protect children in its 10 government departments.
Despite limited resources and its current situation, Yemen had been able to consolidate its health situation — in large part thanks to assistance from the international community. Yemen had been declared free of polio, and had a plan of action to combat trafficking. But, poverty, malnutrition and economic difficulties continued to be challenges for children in Yemen. No effort, at national or international levels, should be spared to protect children.
ABDULAZIZ BOTBAEV ( Kyrgyzstan) said laws in his country had been devised to protect freedoms — and the aspirations of children were a basic right. Kyrgyzstan had ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the additional Protocols, and welcomed those that had submitted reports on their work to be discussed by the committee. At present, his Government was creating a plan for the social development of the population, which would include an item on families and children suffering from difficult circumstances.
It was also about to establish a data bank of children deprived of family care to ensure their protection, and there were laws to help those who had been deprived of care. There were also active efforts to develop laws that ensured the rights of children, parental care and family love. The development of children’s rights went hand-in-hand with development of the country, national security and education. A happy childhood was the best guarantee for the future of the family, and for tomorrow’s stability, security and peace.
MONIA ALSALEH ( Syria) said the best interests of the children were the foundation for the various policies adopted in Syria’s social, health and education sectors. Care for children was the fundamental basis for life in Syrian society, as was made clear in the country’s health and education policies. Syria had stepped up its international efforts, including by welcoming the Paralympics under the auspices of Syria’s first lady. Also, from 27 to 29 July 2010, Syria held the Forum of Young Arabs to consider the pillars of the Second Arab Plan for Children. That Forum adopted several important proposals. It also underlined a fifth pillar of concern relating to the situation of children living under foreign occupation. At the local level, the Minister for Social Affairs and Labour was working with the United Nations to implement a national plan to eliminate the worst forms of child labour in Syria. To that end, a road map had been developed.
She said, as for the human rights situation in the occupied Syrian Golan, the Israeli occupiers showed no interest in upholding the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Israel also continued it efforts to replace the Arab identity with an Israeli one, by imposing cultural programmes. They were rejecting all services that Syria wished to provide itself. Thus, the international community must continue to condemn these violations and intervene for the benefit of the Arab citizens of the occupied Syrian Golan. In addition, mines should be removed and the blockade on Gaza must be lifted.
RATNA DE (India) said that 19 per cent of the world’s children were Indian and the age group of 0-18 years constituted 44 per cent of India’ population. Free and compulsory education up to the age of 14 years had been declared a fundamental right and even private schools had to reserve 25 per cent of seats to children from the economically weaker sections of society. The Integrated Child Development Services Scheme annually catered to around 75 million children under the age of 6. The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, established in 2007, provided a speedy trial of those committing crimes against children and violating the rights of children.
She said the Government strictly enforced a ban on the employment of children under 14 years of age. The issue of child labour was being addressed in a holistic manner, while implementing measures to improve access to education, health and nutrition for children. The Integrated Child Protection Scheme, launched in 2009, aimed to create a safe environment for children in need of care and protection and children in conflict, bringing together under one umbrella several child protection schemes in order to provide better accessible child protection services, among other things. As the girl child was one of the most vulnerable members of any society, India had initiated policies to ban sex selective abortion and child marriage.
MOHAMED IBRAHIM ELBAHI ( Sudan) said the reports under discussion showed the challenges to implementing the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and the slow rate of achievement of child protection. Despite some improvements in infant mortality rates, they remained high in developing countries. The economic crisis had a direct effect on vulnerable sections of societies, especially children. Without rectifying the imbalance in economies, talking about the future of children would just be a distant dream. Machinery for the protection of children had been developed in Sudan’s parliaments and provinces, with councils to protect children in each province and special police units. A number of health and education efforts had also been bolstered by several competent Organization agencies, such as UNICEF.
Upon reviewing the report on the situation of children in zones of conflict, he was happy to say that their situation in Sudan’s conflict areas had improved greatly since those reports were done a year ago. While rebels in Darfur were still recruiting children and pushing them into military campaigns, normalization of relations with Chad had also greatly helped the situation of children, as well as civilians there, and there was no doubt developments in Libya would also help them. Sudan hoped that cooperation would continue with all relevant international agencies, particularly in the area of capacity building. He concluded by expressing great concern for the children of Palestine; his delegation supported the creation of an independent Palestinian State, so children there could enjoy their rights.
REDOUANE YAHIAOUI ( Algeria) said focusing on the most vulnerable children was among the best, least expensive means of achieving the Millennium Development Goals. However you looked at the state of the global economy, it was clear that the children of poor families continued to suffer. African children, in particular, suffered from malnutrition, pandemics, poverty and armed conflict and it was clear that, despite national and regional efforts, Africa could not deal with all those phenomena on its own. The support of the international community was needed more than ever and without significant support, the impact of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis would continue to plague societies, leaving the dream of schooling inaccessible for millions of African children.
He further recalled that Algeria was party to the principle international instruments promoting and protecting children’s rights, including ILO Convention No. 182 Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour and Convention No. 190, which tackled the trafficking, sale and exploitation of children. Under its treaty obligations, Algeria would submit its third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Government had included several provisions in various texts to bolster protections for children’s rights. Among other things, it had adopted a national family strategy, a national child strategy and a plan to combat violence against children, developed with the help of UNICEF. Algeria’s National Code had been amended to better protect children’s rights. Tireless efforts were being made to eliminate child trafficking and prostitution, and the Criminal Code severely criminalized all those guilty of such actions. Mandatory and free education for all children through age 16 was a Government priority and the rate of schooling — above 97.96 per cent — put Algeria on the level of many developed countries.
IRINA VELICHKO ( Belarus) said she was concerned that, despite significant progress on some key global indicators for children, they still remained under threat. To more effectively coordinate the mobilization of resources for children, there must be more united efforts, she said. In the context of an unstable world, where there was recession and unemployment, adolescents needed support. Combating social degradation of adolescents and supporting young talent should be increased, to better support them.
It was also necessary to update the priority areas for children, she said. Belarus itself had achieved the Millennium Development Goal on child education, and had a fundamental system for the interest of all children, especially for those in difficult situations. It had recently enacted legislation and mechanisms to enhance the liability of parents who abdicated from their responsibilities. It was also working to implement the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, following its review of the Belarus report. She concluded by extending an invitation to the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prosecution and child pornography to visit her country
JORGE MEDINA ( Peru) said his Government was working to implement plans and programmes for the social inclusion of children with disabilities. Comprehensive education was a State policy of highest priority and a timely and sufficient budget had been allocated toward that goal. It was clear that overcoming poverty and achieving sustainable development actions were needed for social and human development and must target the most vulnerable segments of the population. Peru had made good progress in reducing chronic malnutrition and reducing child and maternal mortality. To foster social inclusion in children, the State had invested huge amounts in education, resulting in universal primary education. Illiteracy had been eradicated in the population under 16 years of age. It was using information and communications technology to improve the quality of public primary education, especially in rural areas. Moreover, it aimed to increase the use of those technologies in both learning and teaching.
He went on to say that the Peruvian Government was convinced that early childhood development was critical and it had been implementing a programme for children under the age of 3 that provided food and care while their mothers were working. He noted with gratitude the recent approval of the UNICEF cooperation programme for 2012-2016, drawn up between his Government and that agency. His delegation also welcomed Canada’s initiative to launch International Girls’ Day.
ASIM IFTIKHAR AHMAD, Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, said the rights of children were special, since they emanated from the universal and equal entitlement of children to love, care and attention. They were also special, because their promotion and protection depended largely on adults. That responsibility must be shouldered without fail — meaning that investing in children was not a choice, but an obligation and a requirement for securing a better and brighter future for succeeding generations. However, many children remained vulnerable and their rights were often forgotten, or taken for granted, and more must be done on multiple fronts to achieve a fundamental transformation in the situation of children around the world.
He noted that Pakistan was a party to the Child Rights Convention, as well as to the core conventions of ILO and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Convention on Prevention and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution. It had recently ratified the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and its work to ratify the Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict was at an advanced stage. At home, the Comprehensive National Plan of Action for Children sought to build capacity, raise awareness and strengthen the country’s functional structure for promoting ad protecting child rights. Commissions for Child Welfare and Development were operational at the provincial and district levels. Specialized protection and rehabilitation centres for child labourers and street children had also been set up. Children Complaint Desks were also operational in the offices of the Federal and Provincial Ombudsmen.
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