Thank you, Chair,
The Convention on the Rights of the Child enjoys nearly universal support and is increasingly a source of positive change for children across the globe. It is important to have this in mind as we continue our work to fulfil our commitments.
Norway would like to express its appreciation for the Secretary General’s report on the rights of the child, which shows significant progress in several key areas: child mortality rates have gone down and access to education has improved. The legal framework and commitments have been strengthened, and improvements in the knowledge base have resulted in better responses and advocacy efforts. This is encouraging. Furthermore, the appointment of the Special Representative on Violence against Children was a most important achievement.
Nevertheless, children all over the world continue to be victims of abuse and experience serious violations of their rights. It is the duty of every state to work for the elimination of harmful practices by reinforcing and explicitly promoting and protecting children’s rights. We fully endorse the Secretary General’s outline of principles and actions to fulfil commitments on the rights of all children, and support his encouragement to consider these in developing the post-2015 development agenda.
Norway would like to emphasise that promoting children’s rights is not only a moral imperative andinherently right, but also sound macro-economic policy. This is an important point, as we have seen that the advancement of children’s rights has been affected by instability in the world economy in recent years, and by the austerity measures various countries have introduced in response to this. As James J. Heckman, a Nobel Laureate in Economics, points out, Early intervention to help disadvantaged children has the best effect and is economically profitable. Intervention early in childhood will reduce expenses connected with young people dropping out of the educational system. In addition, it will increase the gross national income of the state because a well-educated and healthy population participates more fully in the work force.
Analyses indicate that in Norway, each marginalised child who drops out of the system will cost the equivalent of approximately 2 million dollars. Failing to intervene and invest in children carries a high price for any society. As stated in the Secretary-General’s report, evidence shows that failure to address inequities severely compromises countries’ economic and social stability over time. Norway therefore fully subscribes to the importance of implementing child rights from early childhood.
Being born as a girl means having fewer opportunities and being more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Norway welcomes the Secretary-General’s most recent report on the girl child, which contains important information and recommendations. The report states that inequalities will not be reduced and interventions will not be sustainable unless educational inequalities are addressed first. We fully agree that this issue should be dealt with globally as a matter of urgency.
Norway also welcomes the report from the UN Special Representative on Violence against Children. The Special Representative reminds us that “for countless children, life is defined by one word: fear”. This is unacceptable. Child trafficking, child labour and other violations of children’s rights severely damage their mental and physical health. Research shows that extreme experiences in childhood have serious impacts on children’s health and lives as adolescents as well. This clearly has negative impacts on society as a whole. Norway will continue to support the mandate and valuable work of the Special Representative as part of our long-standing international efforts to halt violence against children.
The most urgent issue in the context of violence against children is their extreme vulnerability in armed conflicts. For far too long, we have been witnessing serious violations of the rights of children in Syria. Since the start of the conflict two years ago, 7000 children have died, approximately one million children have fled the country and a further two million have been internally displaced. These numbers are difficult to comprehend. Now we need to act. Norway commends the efforts of the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict to improve the situation in Syria and in other conflict areas. Her work is very important but also very difficult. Norway would like to reiterate its strong support for her mandate.
Children and adolescents with disabilities are among the most vulnerable people in the world. Girls with disabilities often experience double discrimination. They are at a higher risk of experiencing gender-based violence. During disasters, crises, conflicts and armed violence they are the last to be reached by relief efforts. Norway therefore stresses the importance of including persons with disabilities in the post-2015 development agenda.
Finally, Norway views it as imperative to move from a charity-based approach to child protection towards a rights-based approach with a strong emphasis on prevention, building resilience and empowering children to become active citizens.
Children should be recognised as a resource and as people with ideas and expectations of their own and an ability to influence decisions, rather than merely as vulnerable human beings and passive recipients of assistance and protection.
Thank you, Chair.