SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES OBLIGATION OF GOVERNMENT TO PROTECT YOUNG PEOPLE

SG/SM/7027
11 June 1999

SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES OBLIGATION OF GOVERNMENT TO PROTECT YOUNG PEOPLE

11 June 1999


Press Release
SG/SM/7027


SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES OBLIGATION OF GOVERNMENT TO PROTECT YOUNG PEOPLE

19990611

Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message to the final conference of the United Nations OneWorld Youth Conference Series -- held in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, from 6 to 8 June -- which was delivered by the Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Kensaku Hogen:

I am delighted that the Government of Mongolia, along with the United Nations Resident Coordinator and the participating non-governmental organizations, has organized this "Millennium Summit". This OneWorld Conference Series is a shining example of Mongolia's determination to build a more democratic and prosperous future for all its citizens based on human rights, good governance, and a free and fair market economy.

Mongolia's role at the United Nations is a vital part of this endeavour. Apart from the Vice-Presidency of the General Assembly, Mongolia, through its cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), has embarked on an ambitious anti-poverty programme, which will serve only to strengthen its global presence.

At the regional level too, Mongolia has taken its place among nations as a constructive and progressive member of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum. And through the exploration of new political, economic and environmental arrangements, your country has begun an interesting new discussion on how to enhance regional security in North-East Asia.

Through such initiatives, Mongolia has earned the confidence of the international community. The fifty-third General Assembly session's endorsement of Mongolia's independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and economic security is well-deserved recognition of your status as a vital member of the international community, and particularly your commitment to remaining nuclear-free.

This has all been made possible, of course, by some very positive changes within your vast country.

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The adoption of a functioning multi-party system, free election, freedom of the press and opinion, and a commitment to human rights have ignited the spirit, creativity and collective energies of the Mongolian people. This courageous change vividly symbolizes Mongolia's commitment to the ideals of the United Nations Charter and testifies to the determination of its Government to convert those lofty ideas into reality for all Mongolians.

I also welcome your awareness that a commitment to the youth of today is the ultimate guarantor of Mongolia's success.

I have heard many examples of what the delegates to these conferences have accomplished after returning home. The youth participants from one province petitioned their local Government to provide children living on the street with access to health care. And in two others, delegates have set up help-lines and family planning classes for people their own age.

In too many parts of the world, however, young people are not such a high priority -- leaders are too often preoccupied with strife, war, and unsustainable debt burdens to make much of an investment in their future. In certain instances, young people's rights are violated when they are conscripted into premature "employment" as labourers, drug traffickers, and even soldiers. These children are robbed of their future and of their humanity. This must end.

I recently spent two heart-rending days in the Kosovo refugee camps. There I met with many children whose courage in the face of the most horrendous circumstances says much about the strength and determination of youth. I came away from that experience believing more strongly than ever that it is the obligation of government to protect young people. Never should young people have to be protected from government.

Mongolia is on the right path. There is a lot of work left to do, but I am confidence that you will succeed.

I wish you a successful conference, and I look forward to the day when I will come in person to see the progress that you have made.

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For information media. Not an official record.