Political leaders and key figures from the private sector as well as civil society came together at the start of this year’s General Assembly, with the aim of accelerating poverty eradication and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Both directly and indirectly, these goals affect the wellbeing of children and their chances of leading a life in which their rights to dignity and development are respected. These rights are also core pillars of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The same governments are represented here as at the High-Level Meeting. We are the States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We have an obligation to establish and strengthen well-functioning national systems for securing children’s rights. These should include legal frameworks, policies and services to promote children’s rights, as well as ways of preventing and responding to violations of these rights. The Convention on the Rights of the Child must therefore be used as a guide on our way to 2015 and the fulfilment of the MDGs, particularly MDG 2 on education and the health-related goals. Children’s rights are also core human rights, and this is particularly important to remember as we are close to the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
On behalf of Norway I would like to thank yesterday afternoon’s the speakers for their inspiring introductory statements. I will focus on four main points in my statement.
Firstly, I would like to commend the Chair of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Dr Yanghee Lee, for the outstanding way in which the Committee is carrying out its monitoring role, through constructive dialogue with the States Parties. Furthermore, the Committee’s General Comments, with elaborated guidance and recommendations on a range of issues, provide States Parties with valuable tools for further implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In line with its political platform the government is also taking measures to strengthen children’s rights and actively follow up the recommendations from the Committee through a better monitoring of the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Norway is furthermore prepared to support the request to the General Assembly annexed to A/63/160 for the Committee to work in two chambers, and calls on the Third and Fifth Committees to support this too.
As regards follow-up of the World Fit for Children + 5 Declaration from 2007, the international community needs to further develop and share practices regarding children’s participation in decisions that affect them. We suggest that the General Assembly addresses this topic next year, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It should use as its guide the most recent work by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN Study on Violence Against Children, and documented practices by UNICEF, NGOs, governments, children and young people. Child participation is the key to successful implementation of many other child rights.
The protection of children from violence in all settings in society must be kept at the forefront of the national, regional and international agendas on child rights. The UN Study on Violence Against Children brought together the UN, governments and civil society in a new partnership, where children were active partners. There was broad consensus on the recommendations made by the independent expert appointed by the Secretary-General. These recommendations affect all countries and all continents. The Study is making a difference. But its global impact needs to be strengthened as a matter of urgency, by the appointment of a Special Representative of the Secretary-General to act as a high level and independent global advocate in accordance with UN General Assembly resolution 62/141. We are actually disappointed that this did not yet happend.
While on the topic of violence against children, I would like to highlight our concern regarding the continued use of the death penalty for crimes committed before the age of 18, which is clearly in breach of the Convention. One of the overarching recommendations of the UN Study on Violence Against Children is to abolish the use of the death penalty and life imprisonment for children. The Secretary-General should report to the next General Assembly on all member states’ compliance with this. The omnibus resolution on the rights of the child should call for an end to this, and for urgent juvenile justice reforms to ensure essential safeguards for children in conflict with the law. We also welcome the explicit call made by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in her recent “Dignity and Justice for Detainees Week” initiative, for the protection of children deprived of their liberty and for improving the treatment of children and their conditions while in detention.
Fourthly and finally,
We would like to reaffirm our strong support for the proactive advocacy work carried out by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. This highlights both persistent and new challenges threatening the protection of children. We would also like to express our continued support for her role in consolidating, expanding and strengthening partnerships within the UN system and with other relevant actors, especially at field level. Implementation of existing norms must be at the core of our joint efforts. In order to make sure that protective standards are transformed into compliance, and condemnation into accountability, as the Special Representative reiterated in the open debate of the Security Council early this year, we must support the renewal of her mandate. The work of the office of the Special Representative has expanded greatly since the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1612. The office should be given adequate resources to maintain the high quality of its work.
In her report, the Special Representative outlines a series of priority areas for advocacy and action, and makes recommendations for the next mandate period, building on the findings of the 10-Year Strategic Review of the Graca Machel Study. In general, we agree with all suggested areas for follow up action. In due course we would nevertheless welcome a strategic work plan that can facilitate stronger partnerships within and outside the UN system. Norway remains dedicated to working closely with the Special Representative’s office in certain areas where we can be of assistance, such as ending gender-based violence, the impact of small arms, landmines and cluster munitions, and the role of children, boys and girls, in peace-making and peace-building. As stated in the Child Soldiers Global Report 2008, “a peace agreement remains the best route out of soldiering for children rather than any other initiative to get children out of hostilities.”
Thank you, Mr Chairman