The speech, held on October 18th, went as follows:
At the UN Special Session on Children in 2002 – "A World Fit for Children" – one of the messages from the Children’s Forum was: "We are not the sources of problems; we are the resources that are needed to solve them".
Protection and promotion of children’s human rights is paramount. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is based on children’s right to fully participate in society. For this to become a reality, we must do our utmost to ensure children a life in security, protected from the horrors of armed conflict, sexual exploitation and other forms of violence. A strong focus on the girl child is required in this regard.
Norway welcomes the initiative taken by the General Assembly to request an in-depth study on violence against children. We have expectations that the study conducted by Mr. Paulo Pinheiro, will be useful in our efforts to eliminate all forms of violence aginst children. Violence against girls and boys, is a question of fundamental human rights. Violence against children must never be considered a private matter. It should constantly be of great concern to all of us.
Moreover, children’s right to basic needs, like health services and education, must be honoured. We are encouraged by the Secretary General’s report on the follow-up to the UN Special Session on Children which states that at least 170 countries have either taken, or plan, actions to turn the goals of the Special Session into reality. However, current efforts need to be scaled up and better supported. Political commitment, not the least in the form of resource allocation, is needed.
On a global basis, chronic poverty remains the single biggest obstacle to meeting the needs of the children. Poverty constitutes a breeding ground for human rights violations, and also gives rise to conflict. Conflict, in turn, exacerbates poverty.
Investing in children should be a key priority in any poverty reduction strategy. Norway views education for all as job number one. Education is a precondition for economic, social and cultural development. It promotes health and plays a major role in combating HIV/AIDS. Children’s rights and needs are a transversal topic at next year’s review of the MDGs.
In addition to the protection of children’s human rights and the need for additional financial resources for social and economical development, we believe that sustainable policies for the family in all its forms, are conducive to a safer environment and a sound upbringing of children.
The Secretary-General’s report on the comprehensive assessment of the United Nations’ response to children affected by armed conflict raises important questions. Questions about the development and application of the international standards for CAAC, the degree of mainstreaming of these issues within the relevant UN entities, and the effectiveness of the co-ordination of CAAC concerns within the UN. Although the report states that significant progress has been achieved in efforts to strengthen international norms and standards, it concludes that more needs to be done by the various components of the UN; particularly in applying accepted norms and standards and putting in place an effective monitoring and reporting mechanism.
In our view the report, with its many recommendations, provides a good basis for further discussions on how to improve the effectiveness of the UN response to the CAAC agenda. In addition to continued vigorous advocacy and an effective, monitoring and reporting system on child rights violations, and enhanced mainstreaming and improved co-ordination across the UN-system, we also consider it very important that the roles of key UN bodies and the division of labour among the various UN actors concerned with the CAAC agenda be analysed.
At the UN Summit on the Information Society in Tunis 2005, the interests and perspectives of children and adolescents as major stakeholders, should be properly integrated and reflected. Children with disabilities encounter greater barriers than others. In their strive to enjoy a life of equal opportunities, ICT has proven to be a particularly suitable tool in learning as well as for societal participation.
This summer, Norway hosted the 8th International Congress on Including Children with Disabilities in the Community. Adolescents, many of them with severe disabilities, participated actively both in the planning of and during the event itself. This once again proved the importance of contributions by children and adolescents in all issues related to their participation in society.