|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
15th & 16th Meetings (AM & PM)
Third Committee Approves 8 Draft Resolutions, Including Text Aimed
at Curbing Trafficking in Cultural Property
Delegates Continue General Discussion on Protection of Children’s Rights
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today approved eight draft resolutions relating to crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control, including a text aimed at curbing the trafficking of cultural property ‑ an emerging issue in the global struggle against transnational organized crime.
Also by that text, the General Assembly would request United Nations Member States to “continue their efforts to effectively strengthen crime prevention and criminal justice responses to protect cultural property, especially with regard to its trafficking”.
By the terms of a second text, the Assembly would recognize the cross-cutting nature of the rule of law, crime prevention and criminal justice and development, and recommend the further elaboration of such links and interrelationships. The 193-nation body would also underscore that “the post-2015 development agenda should be guided by respect for and promotion of the rule of law, and that crime prevention and criminal justice have an important role in that regard”.
The other texts adopted today addressed, among other things, technical assistance for implementing international counter-terrorism conventions and protocols; the elimination of violence against children in the area of crime prevention and criminal justice; rules for treating prisoners; gender-related killing of women and girls; and the development of alternatives to the cultivation of narcotic drugs.
Also today, the delegates of Fiji (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Mongolia, Peru and Belarus introduced six draft resolutions relating to social development, crime prevention and criminal justice.
The Committee continued its discussion on the rights of children, which featured 42 speakers.
Malawi’s representative, speaking for the Southern African Development Community (SADC), reported that all its member States had ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and acceded to the African Charter on Welfare of the Child, enacting various legislative and other measures to give effect to their provisions. Consequently, the subregion had seen significant improvements in access to primary school education, health and sanitation, as well as nutrition levels. Challenges persisted, however, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and the increasing numbers of child-headed households.
Many delegates stressed the importance of investing in children, with the representative of the Republic of Korea describing how investing in education could end the intergenerational transmission of poverty. In the 1960s, the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita had exceeded $100, he recalled, but since then, the country had evolved into an economic power despite the absence of domestic natural resources.
Singapore’s delegate said that his country ‑ a small island with no natural resources ‑ fostered children by focusing on education, physical and mental well-being, and strengthening of the family unit. Singapore ranked third in the Global Competitiveness Report (2012-2013) in terms of the quality of its education system, he said. The national literacy rate stood at 96 per cent, its unemployment rate at 2 per cent, and its infant mortality rate at 1.8 per 1,000 births.
Also participating in today’s debate were speakers representing the European Union Delegation, Jamaica, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Haiti, Cape Verde, Uruguay, Russian Federation, Belarus, Switzerland, United States, Japan, Israel, South Africa, Monaco, Bhutan, Bulgaria, Nicaragua, Jordan, Senegal, Kenya, China, Mozambique, Iceland, Brazil, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Pakistan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Bolivia, Qatar, Thailand, Chile, Syria, Maldives, Turkey, Iraq, Burkina Faso and Malaysia.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Syria and Israel.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 18 October, to conclude its general discussion on children’s rights.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to continue its general discussion on children’s rights. It was also expected to take action on draft resolutions.
CHARLES P. MSOSA (Malawi), speaking for the Southern African Development Community (SADC), reported that all its member States had ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and acceded to the African Charter on Welfare of the Child, enacting various legislative and other measures to give effect to their provisions. Consequently, there had been significant improvements in access to primary school education, health, and sanitation, as well as nutrition levels. However, SADC member States faced such persistent challenges as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, as well as an increase in the number of child-headed households. Some SADC countries had therefore begun implementing programmes to ensure that such households benefitted from social protection initiatives, he said.
The growing phenomenon of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, was another great concern for the region, he said, calling for effective data and research systems in order to facilitate national planning, effective policymaking and adequate resource allocation. Full implementation of all legal instruments addressing the promotion and protection of children’s rights required resources, he said, pledging SADC’s continued commitment to mobilizing and leveraging resources benefitting orphaned and vulnerable children, including those with disabilities.
Speaking in his national capacity, he said Malawi’s children often suffered abuse, exploitation and human trafficking as a result of poverty. The Government had instituted initiatives to uplift their welfare, such as social cash transfers and the school feeding programme. Furthermore, police units throughout the country had special child friendly units, to which people were encouraged to report incidents of abuse. The Government had also launched an initiative using local traditional leaders to combat child marriage and encourage women to deliver babies at health centres, therefore becoming champions of children’s rights. “Traditional leaders are no longer viewed as custodians of harmful practices,” he said in conclusion.
IOANNIS VRAILAS, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation, said the wide ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child proved the broad international consensus that children were entitled to protection, to the promotion of their rights and to development. At the regional level, the focus was on such priorities as child-friendly justice, protecting children in vulnerable situations and fighting violence against children. “The EU believes that giving children a voice is a precondition for effective child protection,” he underlined. Within the bloc, however, the number of children living in poverty and social exclusion had risen significantly in recent years.
He said the European Union was therefore stepping up efforts to prevent child poverty and the transmission of disadvantage across generations, in particular by focusing on early intervention and prevention, including early childhood education and care to reduce inequality. Poverty often made it necessary for children to work, sometimes in unacceptable circumstances, including heavy work and long hours, thereby making it impossible for those children to attend school, he noted. “Through bilateral and multilateral cooperation, the EU will continue to pursue political dialogue to promote and protect the rights of the child,” he said.
LISA HANNA, Minister for Youth and Culture of Jamaica, associating herself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that a nation’s character must be measured by its determination to create a peaceful and just environment for all its citizens, especially the most vulnerable, among whom were the children. One of the recognized rights of Jamaican children was the right to participate in their own affairs through the school system’s Child Ambassadors programme, which helped the Government identify abused children, because children often felt more comfortable talking to their peers. Turning to the question of children in police custody, either as offenders or when removed from abusive environments, she emphasized the need to create children-only holding areas to keep them separate from adult detainees, in efforts to improve their protection or chances of rehabilitation. “For Jamaica, where our people are our most precious resource, safeguarding the rights of children is not just a legal or moral obligation, but also a sound investment in our future,” she said.
ARETA MISKINIENE (Lithuania), associating herself with the European Union, said that in order to develop a coherent and coordinated institutional framework for the protection of children’s rights, the national parliament had approved the transformation of the institutional system, with the aim of improving the children of children’s rights. It covered children within the family, in the education system and in the health services. As for domestic violence, she said that besides the immediate targets of such violence, children who witnessed it were also victims. They received psychological, legal and medical help after experiencing direct or indirect violence. “I sincerely hope that States will share best practices and will inspire each other to think about further measures to promote the well-being of children,” she said.
CLAUDIO NARDI ( Liechtenstein) reaffirmed his country’s continuing support for the mandate of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed conflict, especially because of the need to address impunity for the most serious violations of children’s rights. Liechtenstein’s commitment had translated into the development of a mobile phone application that provided international policymakers, United Nations personnel and non-governmental organizations with access to documents and recommendations on protecting the security and rights of children. More specifically, he said it compiled all thematic Security Council resolutions on children and armed conflict, identified the relevant underlying sources of international humanitarian and human rights law, and provided examples of model child-protection language from previous Council resolutions, with the aim of providing all relevant information on violations.
MARIE-FRANÇOISE BERNADEL (Haiti), associating herself with CARICOM and CELAC, said that in its efforts to strengthen institutions, the Government had revamped the Haitian National Police Brigade for the Protection of Minors, which was responsible for dealing with cases of violence against children, particularly sexual assault, ill treatment and exploitation. Further, a national free education programme had provided access to education for more than 1.2 million children, and the construction of new schools and hospitals was under way. The path ahead was still long, she said, but Haiti’s development index allowed room for hope. The Government had signed international instruments and established an institution - Kore fanmi – the aim of which was to strengthen the national social protection system, she added.
ANTONIO PEDRO MONTEIRO LIMA ( Cape Verde) quoted Amilcar Cabral, the father of his nation, saying that during the struggle for independence “children are the flowers of our revolution, the main reason of our struggle”. Successive Governments had always been determined to follow his legacy, placing children at the heart of their policies. Beside constitutional provisions, Cape Verde had enacted numerous laws on child protection, including its approval this month of the Statute of the Child and Adolescent, he said. Primary school education was mandatory and free of charge, and enrolment close to 100 per cent. A programme serving hot meals in school, with support from the World Food Programme (WFP), had been in place since 1979 and had contributed decisively to reducing the drop-out rate, as well as malnutrition. Poverty, unemployment and food insecurity, as well as the effects of climate change and the economic crisis, remained the biggest threats to the promotion and protection of children’s rights around the world, he said, adding that Cape Verde, as a small island developing State, was particularly vulnerable.
MARTÍN VIDAL (Uruguay), associating himself with CELAC, said that as in every year, the European Union and Uruguay, on behalf of Latin American and Caribbean States, would table a draft resolution in the format of an “omnibus” text focusing on such topics as children and poverty, child labour and freedom of expression for children. The fight against poverty – which as poverty often had the face of children – was one of the main priorities for Uruguay, and efforts to combat it had started to bear results as the rate of malnourished and poor children declined. Violence against children came in different forms, such as enforced disappearance, human trafficking, organized crime and forced recruitment, among others. It was often perpetrated at home, or within communities, which was a matter of great concern. Uruguay had been the first State to ratify the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Convention No. 189 on decent work for domestic workers, adopted in Geneva in June 2011, he noted.
NIKOLAY RAKOVSKIY ( Russian Federation) said his country considered the protection of children a priority and a moral obligation. National strategies set in place on the issue included: strengthening financial support to large families and to disabled children without the care of their parents; stepping up efforts to prevent all forms of violence against children; and providing financial means to families fostering orphans. Referring to the threat posed by new information and communication technology — including instigation to violent behaviour and crime, and sexual exploitation — he underlined his country’s adoption of a specific law protecting children from Internet content. As for violence perpetrated against Russian children after their adoption in other countries, he emphasized that it was closely monitored at the highest levels.
IRINA VELICHKO ( Belarus) said her country’s literacy rate stood at 99.7 per cent, and that Belarus had achieved Millennium Development Goal 2 on universal primary education ahead of schedule. Furthermore, the Government offered additional training – general and technical – free of charge. The Government paid particular attention to special education, and had established, among other initiatives, a State programme for the period 2012-2016 by which children with special needs were not forced to attend regular schools, and which allowed people with disabilities to undertake distance learning. Due to the low national birth rate, efforts had been made to achieve Millennium Goal 4, on reducing child mortality, with positive results, he said. Initiatives were also being implemented in cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), including a mandatory vaccination programme, he said, adding that the national coverage rate of 99 per cent surpassed the 95 per cent ceiling set by the World Health Organization (WHO). Additionally, special attention was paid to the 13 per cent of children living in the Chernobyl region, whose health was monitored through annual check-ups and free stays in resorts. As for orphans, the State encouraged their upbringing in families rather than institutions.
BARBARA FONTANA ( Switzerland) said the development of the Lucens Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict was an important step towards ensuring that such locations were not used for military purposes in times of conflict. Switzerland also called for enhanced commitment to ending persistent impunity, especially for crimes committed against children in the context of armed conflict and natural disasters. Promoting the rights of girls was also a priority, she said, welcoming efforts to end early and forced marriage, and describing such harmful traditional practices as serious human rights violations. Switzerland, in cooperation with the Terre des Hommes Foundation, was organizing the World Congress on Juvenile Justice, to be held in Geneva in early 2015, to promote implementation of comprehensive standards, as well as the exchange of good practices.
KELLY L.RAZZOUK ( United States) welcomed the opportunity to discuss the many challenges facing children, including the “unimaginable suffering” of children in conflict. The United States strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Government, which had killed hundreds of children on 21 August. However, the international community had also witnessed the power of the call by the young activist Malala Yousafzai for young people to arm themselves with the “weapon of knowledge”, and never to remain silent in the face of injustice because “silence is the loudest approval of all”. Thanking the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict for her report’s findings on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas of Syria, she strongly condemned attacks on protected schools and hospitals, the torture and abuse of children in Government detention centres, the unlawful use of child soldiers and the denial of access to international humanitarian organizations seeking to bring relief to desperate families. “We agree with the Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), who said that the world cannot afford a lost generation of Syrian children,” she added.
YAEKO SUMI ( Japan) said that human security, which focused on the different needs of each and every individual, was a suitable guiding principle for the post-2015 development framework, and the area of health must embody that principle. In response to various health needs, including those of children and other vulnerable groups, Japan had developed the “Strategy for Global Health Diplomacy” in May, with the aim of realizing universal health coverage. The Government had also developed a comprehensive provision last May to help in the struggle against child pornography. Facing increasing numbers of divorces among multinational married couples, as well as illegal child abduction and illegal unilateral parental custody, Japan had established legislation in June towards concluding the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, and efforts were under way to amend the domestic legal structure.
LIRONNE BAR-SADEH ( Israel) said children were the hope for the future in every society, and the lessons that people taught their children endured for generations. However, there were still parents throughout the world who could not afford to feed their children, or were forced to send them to work rather than to school, she noted, pointing out that education was secondary to survival. The international community was responsible for ensuring that children were given opportunities to fulfil their potential, as outlined in the Convention, but such opportunities were scarce for too many children. Israel’s Supreme Court was among the first to have banned any form of corporal punishment, she said. Its Government worked closely with the non-governmental National Council of the Child, which helped victims of abuse, and had concluded a year on the board of UNICEF.
TSHAMANO MILUBI (South Africa), associating himself with the Group of 77, the African Group and SADC, stressed that his country had already attained the Millennium Goal of universal primary education, having allocated 20 per cent of the national budget, or the equivalent of 6 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), to education in 2013. The Government’s efforts to combat HIV/AIDS were bearing fruit, with recent statistics showing a decline in mother-to-child transmission rates to 2.7 per cent. The sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography were part of the broader challenge of combating illicit human trafficking, he said, urging the United Nations and its Member States to develop, adopt and implement sustainable, context-specific strategies for that purpose. He also underlined the need for a legal framework to protect both victims and witnesses of sexual exploitation.
BENJAMIN VALLI ( Monaco) underlined the importance of protecting and promoting the rights of children at the national as well as the international levels. Given the extent of violations, it was vital to coordinate national, regional and international efforts. Global efforts in the health-care sector were exemplified by the declining mortality figures, but additional support was requested, especially for preventing infant mortality. Reiterating his country’s support for the “All women, all children” initiative implemented by UNICEF, he said quality education was essential in supporting the protection of children. Monaco had joined the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), he added. At the national level, the Principality had enhanced efforts to guarantee care and protection for all children, he added.
DAWA TSHERING (Bhutan) said his Government accorded the highest priority to social development in all its successive five-year development plans, adding that addressing the challenges of improving nutrition levels, particularly among children, was one of the key pillars of its current plan. The education sector had received the highest budget outlay in the current financial year. The Government had adopted a set of child-friendly legislative measures, including the Child Care and Protection Act in 2011, the Child Adoption Act in 2012 and the Domestic Violence Prevention Act in 2013. Many of Bhutan’s achievements in the area of children’s rights were due to the support of development partners, he said, adding that his country wished to see the rights of children become an integral part of the post-2015 development agenda.
STEPHAN TAFROV (Bulgaria), associating himself with the European Union, said that through its cooperation with UNICEF, his country aimed to ensure greater equity and social inclusion of children by reforming and modernizing the child-protection sector. To that end, measures would entail improving social service networks, both at the community and family levels, promoting early child development, and providing increased support for the families of children with disabilities. Situated in proximity to the escalating humanitarian crisis in Syria, Bulgaria was affected by the daily influx of refugees, and was providing resources for their social, educational and health-care needs.
MARIA SOLORZANO (Nicaragua), associating herself with CELAC, said her country could count on a series of national legal instruments and on such strategies as the “Love Programme” and the “Love Programme for the Littlest Ones”, which defended and promoted the rights of children and adolescents in relation to life, family and community, health services, education, and recreation. Nicaragua’s struggle against child mortality continued and projections for 2015 set the country on pace to achieve a rate of 19 deaths per 1,000 of live births. Child development centres were being established to care for children with working mothers and to improve their educational, nutritional and health conditions, she said, adding that the International Labour Organization (ILO) had recently declared Nicaragua “child labour-free”.
M. AMJAD AL-MOUMANI (Jordan) said his Government had attempted to limit child labour through the National Strategy for Jordanian Childhood (2004-2013), a plan of the Ministry of Social Development, and the Strategy for the Reduction of Child Labour, adopted in 2013, which had set the foundations for the struggle against child labour and highlighted the institutional responsibilities of the civil society organizations dealing with the issue. He mentioned efforts to eradicate illiteracy and ensure that education was free and accessible to all, before emphasizing that a question of concern was the flow of Syrian refugees, many of them children, which had slowed down the implementation of some strategies. As a consequence, 60,000 children were enrolled for the 2013-2014 school year, which had led to classes being held both in the morning and afternoon to allow attendance by all children.
ABDOU SALAM DIALLO ( Senegal) said his country was a party to most international human rights conventions and had recently ratified the Optional Protocol to the Child Rights Convention on a communications procedure. Around the world, however, children were still recruited by armed forces, often because of poverty, and were still victims of violence, particularly sexual violence. The Government, in its attempts to speed its pursuit of Millennium Goal 4 on reducing child mortality, provided free care and hospitalization for children below the age of five years. It had also put strategies in place to reduce the vulnerability of orphans and other disadvantaged children to diseases, abandonment and undernourishment.
ANDREW KIHURANI ( Kenya) said the abuse of children remained a problem affecting the most modern cities and the most traditional rural communities. However, the impacts of poverty and HIV/AIDS had led to dramatic changes in family units and systems of care, leading to the rise of child-headed households. Children heading households must not only deal with the loss of their parents, but also stop attending school in order to work and care for the rest of their families. Additionally, due to their socioeconomic and/or physical vulnerability, they faced a heightened risk of sexual exploitation, hazardous work, forced labour and physical abuse, leaving them with physical and psychological scars that would deny them the opportunity to reach their full potential in life.
WON-SEOK CHOI ( Republic of Korea) said that efforts to protect and promote the rights of children should accord priority to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, such as those with disabilities and those in indigenous communities, rural areas and in conflict. Further, the international community should engage more actively to free every child from all forms of violence, exploitation and abuse. Emphasizing that education for children must be prioritized in all development activities, he pointed out that his country was an example of how investment in education could end the intergenerational transmission of poverty. In the 1960s, the Republic of Korea’s GDP per capita had been more than $100. Since then, the country had evolved into an economic power despite the absence of domestic natural resources. Its success story was due in large part to generations of investment in education and the development of human capital.
MDM MASNI MAH ( Singapore) said that, as a parent of four young children, he wanted them to lead a happy, healthy, productive and meaningful life, an ideal that still eluded many children in the world today. As a small island State with no natural resources, his country depended on its people. The Government fostered children through its focus on education, physical and mental well-being, and the strengthening of the family unit. Singapore ranked third in the Global Competitiveness Report (2012-2013) on “quality of the educational system”. Its literacy rate stood at 96 per cent and its unemployment rate was low at 2 per cent. Its infant mortality rate stood at 1.8 per 1,000 births. Free dental services were provided in all primary schools. Mothers enjoyed 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, while fathers could tap on one week of paternity leave. Parents could also enjoy six days of childcare leave during the years of child development. To further strengthen the family, the Government had launched an initiative “Family Matters!” in April.
ZHANG GUIXUAN (China) said that his/her Government had put in place a relatively comprehensive legal system for the protection of the rights of children, establishing special agencies on children at central and local levels and providing effective legal and institutional guarantees for the protection of the rights of the child. China was making an all-out effort to achieve all the goals of the National Program of Action for Child Development 2011-2020. Attaching great importance to the role of international human rights instruments in the promotion and protection of children’s rights, her country had acceded to a series of relevant international treaties. It had submitted its third and fourth combined reports on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the initial report on the implementation of the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.
Introduction of Draft Resolutions
The Committee heard the introduction of five draft resolutions relating to social development, and one relating to crime prevention.
The representative of Fiji presented, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, three texts on “Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly” (document A/C.3/68/L.15), “Preparations for and observance of the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family” (document A/C.3/68/L.16), and “Follow-up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing” (document A/C.3/68/L.14).
The representative of Mongolia then introduced a draft on “Cooperatives in social development” (document A/C.3/68/L.13).
The representative of Peru then presented a text on “Promoting social integration through social inclusion” (document A/C.3/68/L.11).
The representative of Belarus then introduced a text on “Improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons” (document A/C.3/68/L.17).
Action on Draft Resolutions
The Committee then took action on eight draft resolutions relating to crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control, recommended by the Economic and Social Council for adoption by the General Assembly.
Acting without a vote, it approved the following drafts: “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.3/68/L.2); “Strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice responses to protect cultural property, especially with regard to its trafficking (document A/C.3/68/L.3); and “Technical assistance for implementing the international conventions and protocols related to counter-terrorism” (document A/C.3/68/L.4).
Also without a vote, it approved the following texts: “The rule of law, crime prevention and criminal justice in the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015” (document A/C.3/68/L.5); “Model strategies and practical measures on the elimination of violence against children in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice” (document A/C.3/68/L.6); “Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners” (document A/C.3/68/L.7); “Taking action against gender-related killing of women and girls” (document A/C.3/68/L.8); and “Action on United Nations Guiding Principles on Alternative Development” (document A/C.3/68/L.9).
Before the action, the Committee Secretary detailed the programme budget implications associated with all but the final draft resolution adopted, which had no programme budget implications.
The Committee then returned to its general discussion on children’s rights.
HENRIQUE BANZE, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mozambique, aligning himself with SADC, highlighted his country’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Those instruments reinforced Mozambique’s national legislation that addressed challenges in the area of health, education, sanitation, housing and food security. Commitments to attend to the specific needs of children also included the improvement of social protection measures to the most vulnerable children, including abandoned children, children living in absolute poverty, victims of abuse and violence, and children suffering from chronic illness, to name a few. Despite progress made, more needed to be done to ensure that children fully enjoyed their rights and, reiterating his country’s commitment to implement the existing legal instruments, called on the development partners to provide assistance.
THORVARDUR ATLI THORSSON ( Iceland) said that his country had been the first State to incorporate the Convention on the Rights of the Child into national law. Regrettably, however, most countries’ legislation did not protect children from violence in the same way they protected adults, pointing out that only 34 States had prohibited corporal punishment of children by law. Since 1998, Iceland operated the so-called “Children’s House” where child protection services, medical professionals, law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges worked in a coordinated manner, investigating cases of suspected sexual abuse and other forms of violence against children. The Children’s House had contributed to a more child-friendly judicial process, as well. Since children were every country’s future, the way a country treated its children was a good indicator of the direction in which that country was headed. Numerous situations pertaining to children depended on political will, but many were beyond control, such as in conflict situations, with nearly half of the world’s forcibly displaced people children.
Mr. PATRIOTA (Brazil), associating himself with CELAC, said that to ensure sustained eradication of child labour, root causes needed to be addressed, inter alia, promoting social inclusion, quality education, child health and decent work opportunities for adults. Conditional cash transfer programs had proven to be critical in that process, allowing families in economically vulnerable situations to sustain a certain level of family income while sending their children to school instead of work. Brazil considered children and adolescents an absolute priority, and its Government, society at large and the family were all responsible for their full protection. After outlining several national measures put in place to promote and protect the rights of the child, he reiterated his country’s stance that no effort should be spared in order to guarantee that every child was provided with appropriate care and protection to enjoy their infancy free from any kind of violence and abuse.
KANYA KHAMMOUNGKHOUN (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), aligning himself with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that despite worldwide improvement in children’s lives, millions of them remained out of school or went to bed hungry every night because of inequalities and underdevelopment. The challenges faced by children all over the world were a shared responsibility of the global community. He said that his Government had placed children at the heart of its development strategies, adopting, among other things, the Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Children and the National Plan of Action for Children, in addition to establishing the National Commission for Mothers and Children. Primary education was free and mandatory, and the net enrolment ratio had a robust 98 per cent. On health, he said national vaccination campaigns were undertaken annually. However, the Lao’s faced a number of setbacks, such as a high child mortality rate, especially in remote areas; disparity between the enrolment of boys and girls in higher education; and a lack of quality teachers and school supplies. Those challenges required the continued support of the international community, he added.
MASOOD KHAN (Pakistan), associating himself with the Group of 77, recalled the Secretary-General’s report stating that child casualties had multiplied over the past decade in the course of military operations using armed drones. He had also emphasized that drone strikes directly affected the psychological well-being of children and their families, as well as their economic situations and educational opportunities. The use of armed drones in Pakistan’s border regions was a continuing violation of its sovereignty, he said. It alienated those affected, fuelled disaffection and spurred reprisals against civilians. Besides establishing children’s complaint desks in the offices of the federal and provincial ombudsmen, the Government had created a child protection management information system in collaboration with UNICEF, he said. It had also introduced social protection schemes for children with disabilities, in addition to providing formal and informal education, pre-vocational training and skills-development programmes.
YUSRA KHAN ( Indonesia), associating himself with ASEAN and the Group of 77 and China, said his Government had promoted different measures to address the composite challenges faced by children. In 2009, it had established the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection and, back in 2002, the Indonesian Child Protection Commission, as an independent institution to disseminate all relevant legislation. Furthermore, it had launched the Twelve-year Education Compulsory Programme and the School Operational Assistance Programme, which granted scholarships to prevent students from dropping out of school. Finally, it had developed the National Programme for Indonesian Children 2015, aimed at achieving “A Decent Indonesia for Children” on the model outlined in the document “A World Fit for Children”, adopted during the General Assembly’s 2002 special session on children.
MR. AL-HIMALI ( Saudi Arabia) said his country had implemented several laws to protect children against torture, violence, drug addiction and other ills. Protecting the rights of children translated nationally into the creation of social protection schemes, health-care services, including psychologists, and special measures to punish those responsible for committing crimes against children. At the international level, Saudi Arabia contributed financially to initiatives aimed at improving the situation of children, he said, citing the country’s voluntary contribution of more than $500,000 to programmes for training teachers to identify abusive cases early on, and to work with the families of victims. The overall aim was to guarantee children’s rights, particularly in armed conflicts, he said, strongly condemning the violence perpetrated by the Government of Israel against Palestinians.
INGRID SABJA ( Bolivia), associating herself with CELAC, reaffirmed the importance of parents and families in the care, protection and development of children. Bolivia, the eighth country to ratify the Child Rights Convention, in 1990, had incorporated it into national legislation. In April, it had been the first Latin American State to ratify the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure. The right to education was crucial for personal development, particularly because other rights depended on that fundamental one. If children lacked access to education, their chances for a better life were seriously hindered, she added. Bolivia’s “Bono Juancito Pinto” social programme, for example, granted incentives to keep children in school until the secondary level, she said, adding that the Government also paid particular attention to the development and potential of children with disabilities, encouraging an inclusive education.
MS. AL-TEMIMI ( Qatar) said her country attached great importance to the protection and promotion of children’s rights. The relevant principles were enshrined in the constitution and had been translated into concrete measures, such as the establishment of several institutions, including the Supreme Council in charge of protecting the family and the Qatar Institution for the Protection of Women. Cultural centres had been created for children, and programmes launched to cater to children with special needs. The Nation Vision 2013 incorporated the needs of children. Emphasizing the vital importance of education, she noted that 61 million children around the world were deprived of that basic right. She then called attention to the situation of children in Syria, pointing out that they were subjected to killing, mutilation, torture, detention, abuse and sexual exploitation. The perpetrators of those crimes must be brought to international justice, she stressed.
CHONVIPAT CHANGTRAKUL ( Thailand), associating herself with ASEAN, said her country cooperated with ASEAN and UNICEF, focusing on the delivery of services in humanitarian situations and universal access to health-care services for children. She said her delegation would be submitting a draft resolution entitled “Strengthening collaboration on child protection within the United Nations system”, the aim of which was to enhance technical assistance and build capacity for United Nations child-protection projects on the grounds, which matched the needs of Member States while prioritizing the interests of children.
GLORIA CID CARREÑO ( Chile), associating herself with CELAC, said her country had not only modernized its legislation in relation to childhood and youth, but it had also adopted concrete measures for its implementation. Chile had signed the Optional Protocol to the Child Rights Convention on a communications procedure. Among the many initiatives the Government had undertaken was the “Chile Crece Contigo” (“Chile Grows with You”) programme, aimed at ensuring child development, particularly of vulnerable children. The programme also envisaged expedited access for boys and girls to all services necessary for each stage of their development. Chile supported the inclusion of children’s rights in the post-2015 development framework, she said in conclusion.
MONIA ALSAL ( Syria) declared: “ Syria has seen crimes committed by terrorist groups against children, groups which were funded by Saudi Arabia.” They targeted Syrian children, kidnapping and mutilating them, selling their organs, preventing girls from receiving education and forcing them into early marriage, as well as recruiting them into terrorist groups. Confronted with such challenges, Syria remained committed to protecting children’s rights, she said. The Minister for Health had put together a national programme to strengthen children’s health through a vaccination campaigning against polio, which had been able to reach more than two million children in rural areas. Last May, the Government had adopted a law on the recruitment of children in conflict, making it a crime punishable by 10 years in prison and by death in case of the child’s death. The death penalty was also the punishment for all those who raped girls under the age of 15, she added. In addition, more than $150 million had been set aside for repairs to schools and hospitals destroyed during the conflict, she said. “We speak out against all those who finance terrorists, in particular Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which has been well documented in many reports.” In conclusion, she underlined the lack of interest on the part of the Israeli authorities in protecting children, and called for an end to their impunity.
FATHIMATH LIUSHA ( Maldives) highlighted several initiatives undertaken in her country with a view to advancing their rights, including a focus on universal primary education and inclusive education for children with disabilities. Great attention was also paid to children’s health, particularly reducing infant and child mortality rates. While considerable national as well as global progress had been made and recognized, greater efforts were needed to reduce the growing number of children exposed to violence, abuse and exploitation every day. “Strengthened measures are necessary to bring an end to the millions of children being trafficked or forced into child marriage every day, robbed of their childhood and denied their rights to health, education and security,” she emphasized.
MERVE UNAL ( Turkey) said her country was determined to expand the rights of children, particularly girls, and with that goal in mind, had taken significant steps to improve the legal and institutional framework protecting them. In addition to being a State party to the major multilateral instruments on the topic, Turkey had amended national laws to align them with the Child Rights Convention. It had also launched several initiatives in recent years, ranging from child-protection and juvenile justice systems to protecting children from abuse and neglect. In 2009, the Government had launched a children’s rights website, through which youth could convey their problems to parliamentarians in full confidentiality. In 2012, it had established a committee to monitor and evaluate children’s rights, and to strengthen coordination and supervision activities at the central and local levels. Recently, it had appointed an ombudsperson for women and children, as well as child monitoring centres.
MOHAMMED ALI MARZOOQ (Iraq), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, stressed that due to conflict, the rights of his country’s children to education and health had been negatively affected. The Government had sought to address that situation by making the protection of children a top priority, but terrorism was a major challenge because it did not spare innocent civilians, including children, he said, adding that it also prevented them from attending school. The Government had created a new strategy that aimed to reduce the child mortality rate by 50 per cent for children under the age of nine years old. Iraq had ratified the Child Rights Convention and its two Optional Protocols, he said, adding that the Government had submitted reports on implementation of the latter.
Mr. MANLY (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, stated that given his country’s young population, the well-being of children was a national priority. Several measures had been adopted to promote and protect the rights of children, inter alia the establishment of a parliament of children, a centre of children in distress and a centre for adoption. He highlighted laws aimed at combating human trafficking, child prostitution and pornography, early marriage, and female genital mutilation. On the issue of children in armed conflict, the country had worked in line of relevant protocols and had increased the age of enrolment in the army from 18 to 21 years. “Despite legal frameworks and progress made, the everyday reality of children all over the world is in contrast with the goals set,” he said. Faced with cross-sectoral challenges, he called on the United Nations to strengthen targeted support to children in all areas, particularly in the food, education and health sectors.
RAJA REZA BIN RAJA ZAIB SHAH (Malaysia), associating himself with ASEAN, recognized that investing in the areas of education and training was a prerequisite for the country’s prosperity and the well-being of its people. This was evident as the country consistently allocated the highest percentage of its national budget to these areas. With a view to provide a brighter future for all Malaysian children, irrespective of their socioeconomic background, the Government continued to ensure affordable access to a quality education. He underscored the protection of children as a priority to safeguard the well-being of the community, the nation and the future. “It is only fair that we leave them with a world that is truly fit for all,” he concluded.
Right of Reply
The representative of Syria, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that it seemed as though the United States delegate was not following what was going on in the world, particularly events in Syria. The Syrian Government had never denied the humanitarian crisis, and the delegate should understand that a large part of the suffering of Syrian children was caused by her Government’s support for armed terrorist groups linked to Al-Qaida. Syria expected the United States to provide humanitarian assistance to Syria’s refugee and displaced children instead of millions of dollars to support extremists.
The representative of Israel said the Syrian delegate had no right to lecture on the protection of children because her Government was killing its own children. Israel adhered to the rule of law and granted Palestinians the right to appeal to higher courts if they had problems.
The representative of Syria responded by saying that the occupying Power should be talking about its own training of Zionist children to use weapons in killing Palestinian children. Syria would do whatever it took within its laws to rescue Syrian people, including those in the Syrian Golan Heights, she said.
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