Last month, at the High level Plenary on the Millennium Development Goals we discussed how to accelerate progress with regard to gender equality, education, health, environmental protection and the overriding goal of breaking the chains of poverty.
Each and every one of these Millennium Development Goals are relevant in our debate here today when we focus on the legal protection that we as societies are extending to our most vulnerable citizens – the children.
We believe that promoting the rights of the child must be an integral part of our endeavors to ensure a healthy upbringing, equal educational opportunities and protection from want and violence so that every person can live in dignity, pursue happiness and wellbeing, and truly harness their potential as human beings. This is also the soundest investment countries can make, as human resources are any country’s most precious resource.
Promoting the rights of the child must be part of any sound macro-economic policy.
And countries that default on their obligations under the convention will pay the price of diminished growth and prosperity.
We believe that the Millennium Development Goals can only be achieved by respecting, protecting and fulfilling the human rights standards of equality and non-discrimination. Not least over the past decade, we have enabled hundreds of millions of people of all ages to break the chains of poverty. But these gains have not been distributed equally between and within countries. Many of the poorest and most vulnerable communities and children have been left behind.
UNICEF recently launched the important evidence-based study – Narrowing the Gaps to Meet the Goals – which presents this worrying trend. The report is groundbreaking in that it presents evidence of the tremendous potential and cost-effectiveness of an equity-focused approach to child survival and development. The report says that spending 1 million USD on the children in the poorest and most marginalized areas in developing countries could prevent 60 per cent more under-five deaths by 2015 than by following the approach of spending more equally among the strata of society.
In other words, it is cost effective to invest more aid in the poorest and more marginalized areas. As the second largest donor to UNICEF, Norway warmly welcomes this report. We call upon countries to show leadership and to increase national investments in social sectors, to adopt redistributive policies and accept nothing but good governance.
Norway has taken on a special responsibility for MDGs 4 and 5, reducing child mortality and improving maternal health. Regrettably, progress towards these goals has been the slowest. We will work with the Secretary-General to develop his Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health with the aim of saving millions of lives of small children and their mothers by 2015. We have tripled our investment in global health over the past decade and we will increase it further next year as part of our more that 1 per cent of GNI aid budget.
Education is also a Norwegian aid priority. We are particularly concerned about the 69 million primary-school-age children who are currently out of school. Half of them live in areas torn by conflict and emergencies. That is also why resolution 64/290 on the right to education in emergency situations is so important for us. We ask all parties to contribute with sufficient funding for education in emergencies
Violence is still a harsh reality for millions of children around the world, with devastating consequences for children’s physical and emotional health and their ability to learn and develop. We need to prevent violence against children.
In a global perspective, the girl child is particularly vulnerable, and special attention is required to eliminate harmful traditional attitudes and practices. There is also an urgent need to end impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence against children in all settings, not least in conflicts and crises.
The Government of Norway fully supports the recommendations of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, on establishing a comprehensive strategy on violence against children for each individual State. This also includes the introduction of an explicit national legal ban on all forms of violence.
As a final point, the Norwegian delegation is delighted to promote Professor Kirsten Sandberg as candidate for the upcoming election to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Kirsten Sandberg is Professor of Public and International Law at the Law Faculty of the University of Oslo. She has an outstanding record on Child Rights issues from her 25 years of teaching and research in the area of child law. She has taken a close interest in the Convention on the Rights of the Child since its adoption in 1989, and has followed the activities of the Committee closely, making use of their general comments and concluding observations in her daily work.
The Government of Norway is convinced that Professor Sandberg will make a valuable contribution to the important work of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and we would greatly appreciate the support of all States Parties for the candidature of Professor Sandberg.