UN: 11 December 2007 – As efforts over recent years to improve the lives of children show both considerable progress and the need for further action, the General Assembly today kicked off a special event at United Nations Headquarters focusing on building a world that is truly fit for every child.
Participants have gathered in New York for an Assembly session to review progress towards “A World Fit for Children” – a landmark plan of action agreed by world leaders in 2002 to improve the well-being of children.
Five years ago governments committed to a set of time-bound and specific goals in four priority areas concerning children: promoting healthy lives; providing quality education; protecting against abuse, exploitation and violence; and combating HIV/AIDS.
The Assembly’s two-day high-level meeting, known as “A World Fit for Children+5” will examine advances and setbacks in child well-being, and is expected to conclude with the adoption of a declaration reaffirming global and national commitments to the goals set in 2002.
Highlighting some of the progress that has been achieved in recent years, General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim noted that fewer children under five are dying each year and more children are in school than ever before.
However, “we still have a long way to go,” Mr. Kerim told reporters as the session got under way. The challenges that remain include diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria, which continue to be a hindrance to a healthy life for millions of children. A large number of children are also still subject to violence, exploitation and abuse, as well as to inequity and discrimination, in particular against girls.
To coincide with the Assembly session, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has presented a new report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the eight targets to slash poverty and other ills by 2015 – as they specifically relate to children.
The report provides new information on how far the world has come in making a world fit for children, said Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, who noted the mixed progress towards achieving the goals agreed in 2002.
“If we are to have any chance of meeting these critical goals, we must invest in every child, in every community, everywhere – to give each child a healthy start in life, a good basic education, protection from exploitation, and a chance to develop to his or her full capacity,” Ms. Migiro said.
The Secretary-General’s report draws on data published by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in its report, entitled “Progress for Children: A World Fit for Children Statistical Review,” which was released yesterday.
The UNICEF report provides “an excellent reference tool,” stated the agency’s Executive Director, Ann M. Veneman, as it shows “where efforts should be scaled up, where more needs to be done.”
Highlighting some of the special events taking place in conjunction with the Assembly’s session, she noted that over 90 children and young people from 51 countries – ranging in age from 11 to 17 – are participating in a parallel Youth Forum. They will present their own “outcome document” to the Assembly at the end of the session.
Also, last Saturday, some of the youth participants spoke via satellite to members of the new “Elders” group – which includes a number of prominent personalities such as Graça Machel, Desmond Tutu and Mary Robinson – gathered in South Africa.