Allow me, first of all, to thank the Executive Director her opening remarks to this session and to her and her staff both here at headquarters and in the field for their continued involvement and leadership in raising awareness on the need to protect the most vulnerable from the impacts of global economic and financial crisis. And let me also extend a special thank you to Mr. Morgan for taking us through the annual report on major achievements of UNICEF. We commend UNICEF on these achievements.
Our common challenge, at this critical juncture, is to protect these achievements and collectively continue to strive towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. As Member States and donors it is our responsibility to provide the organization with the best possible conditions to meet its mandate.
In the time ahead, it is vital that UNICEF continues to play a significant role in protecting the most vulnerable from the worst impacts of the global economic and financial crisis UNICEF’s role in gathering evidence and tracking progress related to child survival and development on global as well as country level, are indispensable for the planning of international measures to counter the impacts of the crisis.
The crisis adds to the emergency of implementing UN-reforms already in process and could serve as leverage for accelerating ongoing reforms. We should all be guided by the desired impact and how to create more sustainable and visible results on the ground.
UNICEF is actively engaged in many of the ongoing UN-reform processes and this is to be commended. We look forward to learning more about how UNICEF intends to incorporate the best practices from the One UN pilots as well as their collaboration with other parts of the UN system in multidimensional and integrated peace and political missions, and how the organization intends to bring this process forward based on experiences thus far. Also we appreciate UNICEF’s engagement in the Chief Executives Board’s plan of action for harmonization of business practices.
In the spirit of System-Wide-Coherence, we commend UNICEF’s heightened engagement in addressing the complex challenges that engaging in a conflict or recovery situation imply. In light of the forthcoming report of the Secretary-General on Peacebuilding in the immediate aftermath of conflict, we would like to stress the importance that UNICEF, together with other actors both within and outside the UN system, to engage in the follow up to this report.
This year’s Annual Report improved compared to last year’s by more actively using indicators from the MTSP in assessing progress toward specific result areas. However, improvements in results-based reporting are uneven. Some focus areas are more forceful in communication of results. Others are not. Another area of concern is the lack of integrating gender in all of the MTSP’s results areas. We cannot see that gender is sufficiently reflected in the thematic programmes. It is not enough to say that gender should be better integrated in all results areas without offering suggestions.
In the area of health, we are encouraged to see an increased push by UNICEF to meet the MDG 4 and 5 targets on maternal and newborn health. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank UNICEF for its contribution to the Network of Global Leaders report on protecting the most vulnerable during the economic crisis, to be presented to the General Assembly by the Norwegian Foreign Minister next Monday.
Turning to education, an area of particular interest to Norway: We commend UNICEF efforts to increase children’s access to basic education. We are pleased to observe that the annual report documents concrete results on Child Friendly Schools, a flagship of UNICEF. We also look forward to receiving the findings of the external evaluation that has been in the pipeline for several years.
Despite headway in providing basic education, many children do not have access to this fundamental right. This is particularly the case in conflict and crisis situations. It is encouraging to see that UNICEF is satisfied with the cluster approach in providing educational response in emergency. This approach appears to be well in line with the Paris and Accra agendas of alignment. We are pleased to learn that 3,1 million children were reached through various UNICEF interventions of assistance in emergency situations. But we all have to do more to reach the remaining 75 million children that are denied their right to education. As donors, we must ensure that this important area receives the required resources.
Girls and women constitute the largest group of victims in armed conflict and the heinous crimes so many of them have to endure are beyond human comprehension.
Norway followed the recent Security Council debate on Children and Armed conflict with great interest. We are encouraged by the increasing united international condemnation of rape and sexual based violence, however, urgent and forceful action is still required.
We therefore welcome UNICEF’s strong engagement to bring crimes of rape and sexual violence in armed conflict and crisis higher on the international security policy agenda. UNICEF now chairs the UN Action Against Sexual Violence together with DPKO. This is a unique opportunity which we hope UNICEF will take full advantage of. It is pertinent that rape and sexual violence perpetrated in conflict and crisis is viewed as calculated tactics of war and should be responded to thereafter. If we are to make headway on this issue, all parts of the UN system, but also Member States and NGO’s have to pull together.
We are eagerly awaiting the strengthening of SC resolution 1612 that will expand the criteria that trigger the listing in the annexes to the S-G report to include rape and other grave sexual violence. It is vital that UNICEF, with its expertise and field presence, is prepared to provide the necessary support to the monitoring and reporting mechanism.
Recruitment and use of children by armed groups is a persistent problem and a reason for deep concern. We recognize the difficult political territory that UNICEF operates within concerning these issues, and strongly commend its efforts. Many children have been rescued from armed forces/groups and UNICEF, together with other actors, has played and continues to play a vital role to reintegrate these children back into society. At the same time we cannot refrain from mentioning that reports from Burma give reason for concern, where work on child soldiers are not sufficiently addressed. Principles should not stand in the way of protecting children in unbearable situations. In countries in or emerging from conflict it is important that UNICEF work with all necessary actors to identify solutions.
Before concluding, we would also like to take this opportunity to welcome Marta Santos Pais as the newly appointed SRSG on children and violence. We will do our utmost, as I am sure all others will too, to support her work in the time ahead. We look forward to engage with her and her staff on this.
In conclusion I would like to bring your attention to the fact that we are comemmorating the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) this year. We encourage UNICEF to collaborate closer with the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights on continued implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
We look forward to continuing our strong relationship with UNICEF and to work together to improve the lives of children all over the world in the year to come.
Thank you for you attention.