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(02/4/11) CHILDREN’S ROLE IN PEACE AND SECURITY

2003.06.18
■ CHILDREN’S ROLE IN PEACE AND SECURITY TO BE FOCUS OF GLOBAL CONFERENCE United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children, Postponed in September, Brings World Leaders Back to New York Eight Weeks from Today GENEVA / NEW YORK, 13 March 2002 ? Eight weeks from today world leaders will gather in New York City for a major conference focused on global progress for children and the key role that investment in children can play in building global peace and security, the United Nations announced today. Originally scheduled to take place in September 2001 but postponed following the attacks in New York City and Washington, the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children is expected to bring at least 60 Heads of State and Government to New York for three days 8-10 May. The Special Session, an end-of-decade follow-up to the 1990 World Summit for Children, will present world leaders with a detailed review of what has been achieved for children and what has not been achieved. The Special Session is expected to focus on how investment in children’s education, health, and protection contributes to global stability and peace. The Special Session on Children will conclude with the adoption of a new set of global goals focused on children and an action plan to reach them. □ Why Children In June 2001, in anticipation of the original meeting date, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a progress report detailing what had been done toward the goals set in 1990 and what had been left undone. Entitled “We the Children,” the report contains information from 135 national-level reviews, comprising the most comprehensive picture ever assembled of the global child. It has since been updated to reflect even more recent data. “The world has fallen short of achieving most of the goals of the World Summit for Children,” wrote the Secretary-General, “not because they were too ambitious or were technically beyond reach. It has fallen short largely because of insufficient investment.” The issue of how and why to invest in children has taken on greater significance since last September. Among the many measures needed to improve global stability and security, a consensus has grown that any such efforts must begin with building a world fit for children. “I cannot imagine a truly better world that does not have at its foundation civilized treatment for up and coming generations,” said Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). “Quality basic education for all children, decent health care, opportunities for positive participation in society, and protection from exploitation ? these are basics that in too many places, for too many children, remain distant dreams.” “When nations have committed themselves to real investment in children, and made those investments in ways that promote the rights of children, real progress in human development has been achieved,” Bellamy added. “Where children’s rights have been given only lip service and investments have been minimal, societies continue to struggle.” □ Challenges Facing Children Today There are 2.1 billion children in the world, accounting for 36% of the world’s population. Some 132 million children are born each year. Globally, 1 in 4 children lives in abject poverty ? in families with income lower than $1 a day. One of every 12 children dies before the age of five, mainly from preventable causes. According to statistics assembled for the Secretary-General’s report, “We The Children,” of every 100 children born today: · The births of 40 will not be registered at all. · 26 will not be immunized against any disease. · 19 will have no access to clean drinking water. · 30 will suffer from malnutrition in the first five years of life. · 17 will never go to school. Of these, 9 will be girls. · And of every 100 who begin 1st grade, only 25 will reach the 5th grade. “We have the resources and the knowledge to overcome these challenges,” Ms. Bellamy said. “Our aim at the Special Session is to convince world leaders that investing in children is their number one responsibility ? and that investing in children is the only lasting strategy for reducing poverty, stopping AIDS, and avoiding conflict.” Ms. Bellamy noted that the Special Session on Children falls between two major gatherings on global development ? the International Conference on Financing for Development, which takes place next week in Mexico, and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa later this summer. She said investment in children would be high on the agenda of both, “and appropriately so.” “We must never forget that we are our own keepers,” Bellamy said. “History will judge us harshly if we refuse to use our knowledge, our resources and our will to ensure that each new member of the human family arrives into a world that honours and protects the invaluable, irreplaceable years of childhood.”
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