Third Committee Delegates Applaud Gains in Children’s Access to Health Care, Legal Protections, while Decrying Deadly Impact of Conflict on Their Development

2018 and the number of casualties continues to rise. Israeli raids, attacks on schools and closures of Palestinian educational institutions also continue, she said. Along with Israel's colonization of Palestinian land and unlawful arrests and interrogations of Palestinian children, these massive violations demand accountability.

Ms. FABRE-PIERRE (Haiti), associating herself with the Group of 77, said her country signed a number of conventions on children's rights, adding that Parliament recently ratified two Optional Protocols, on trafficking and armed conflict, as well as the International Labour Organization Convention for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, pertaining to the minimum age. She welcomed laws and policies recognizing that children are not just fragile beings; they must also be assured the right to play, to learn and to express themselves, she commented.

DEANDRA CARTWRIGHT (Bahamas), associating with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said her country established a warning system for missing children, representing the Government's commitment to ensuring that the requisite social protections are in place for all its citizens, particularly children. The alert is a partnership with law enforcement agencies, the media, corporations and the public, requesting assistance in the event that an urgent news broadcast or social media alert is sent regarding missing or abducted children. The month of October is observed as National Youth Month, she said, noting that it includes events showcasing the voices and talents of young people.

Ms. KAMAL (Egypt), associating with the African Group, said the number of children leaving school has dropped and an anti-bullying initiative, involving a television campaign and posters in the street, was launched. The Health Ministry devised a similar programme on social media while the Education Ministry started a campaign to protect children from physical and psychological violence. Egypt aims to improve the education system from early childhood onwards, modernizing teaching methods and systems to both assess and monitor progress. She also noted that refugee children enjoy the same rights as citizens.

Mr. MOHD NADZIR (Malaysia), associating himself with ASEAN, touched on several measures taken to protect children, including legal amendments, support extended to help families overcome social problems, and a child helpline. Efforts are also being made to ensure the integration of children with disabilities, to guarantee that no special needs child is turned away from school. On sexual crimes, Malaysia has amended laws and in 2017, set up a special court to deal with crimes against children. This is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, he asserted.

NORA IMANE BELLOUT (Algeria) said most of the national budget is allocated to education, pointing to Sustainable Development Goal 4 (quality education) � particularly the right of infants to quality education. Algeria has increased the education budget tenfold in recent years. It guarantees free education for all children living in Algeria regardless of nationality or status. The country has acceded to most human rights treaties and established legislation to counter violence against children, in line with its international commitments and obligations.

Mr. NEJAD (Iran) said he is alarmed about the number of children who have spent their entire lives living amid armed conflict or war; such conditions can breed more anger and violence. Up to one third of the world's people are targeted by inhumane blockades, while children are the primary victims of genocidal economic wars and unilateral coercive measures. For instance, in Iran, scores of children are being denied medical attention, including children with leukaemia and rare diseases. People who indulge in blockades are attacking children's lives to score economic gains. Despite such challenges, he said, Iran has made progress. It designated 2019 the year of reformation of children's rights and decided to grant citizenship to children born to Iranian mothers who are married to foreign spouses.

YOUSSOUF ADEN MOUSSA (Djibouti) said that assuring children's rights must go beyond slogans; it must focus on the growth and wellbeing of every child. The empowerment of girls in rural areas is among the priority issues to be fully addressed. Climate change is a serious threat already affecting the Horn of Africa, where drought and land degradation are impacting people, he said, welcoming the global youth-led protests in this context. He went on to describe a few policies Djibouti has instituted for children with special needs.

SAHADATUN DONATIRIN (Indonesia), associating herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said that despite remarkable breakthroughs, many children around the world are trapped in vicious cycles of poverty and violence. Many also fall victim to exploitation, cybercrimes or armed conflict. Noting that caring for children begins during pregnancy and early life, she said Indonesia is working to improve sanitation, prevent child stunting, end violence against children and ensure that schools are safe, secure places where their rights are upheld. The Government's Child Friendly Schools policy, in place in 12,000 schools since 2015, requires schools to fulfil certain policy standards and ensures periodic monitoring. In addition, she said, Indonesia's Child Protection Law and National Action Plan on Human Rights (2015-2019) provides for the rights of children, including those formerly associated with armed groups.

DENISE CHEW (Singapore), associating herself with ASEAN, acknowledged the importance of providing a safe and loving environment for every child. In the last seven years, Singapore has strengthened efforts to provide education for all its children. It has doubled its pre-school capacity, upgraded existing preschools and provided teachers with better training. As many as 99 per cent of children in Singapore complete six years of primary education, of which 96.5 per cent finish the next four years of secondary education and 78.5 per cent complete tertiary education. Following a recent legislative change, a young person now is anyone under age 18, in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As the instrument marks its thirtieth anniversary, protecting and promoting the wellbeing of our children and enabling them to grow up in a safe and conducive environment is more important and urgent than ever, she stressed.

MARIO A. ZAMBRANO ORTIZ (Ecuador), underscoring a priority focus on childhood and children, expressed concern over all types of mistreatment and violence against young people. He drew attention to a programme to promote equality and another focused on infancy, urging Governments to deploy all efforts to ensure that children have better opportunities. Stressing that 5 million children die each year from preventable causes, he called on States to fully protect children.

LAZARUS OMBAI AMAYO (Kenya), associating himself with the African Group, noted that despite reduced child mortality and better access to education around the world, millions of children still face challenges that hamper their development. Kenya has adapted the Convention to its domestic legal framework, improved maternal services in public hospitals, and expanded immunizations and interventions to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. Through the 2006 Sexual Offences Act, for example, Kenya combats sexual exploitation and trafficking of children with an emphasis on bringing perpetrators to justice. Sustained efforts have been made to stop early or forced marriages, as well as to eliminate cultural harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation, aiming to completely eradicate it by 2022.

ELISENDA VIVES BALMAA�A (Andorra) stressed the extremely difficult situations of children deprived of their liberty and living amid conflict. The international community must prevent violence against children, she said, expressing support for the Vancouver principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers. Highlighting the importance of quality and inclusive education, as well as a family environment, she expressed concern over female genital mutilation and early marriage and bullying. She also underscored the importance of a legal framework and measures to protect children's interests, noting that Andorra works with UNICEF on many initiatives.

YASIR ABDALLA ABDELSALAM AHMED (Sudan) said her country has made efforts to improve the lives of children affected by conflict, including by setting up social development centres. Recalling two recent visits made by a technical committee of the United Nations to conflict-affected provinces in Sudan, she noted that after these assessments, the United Nations has removed Sudan from the list of countries violating children's rights, she said, adding that Sudan has since been able to implement appropriate policies, as well as an action plan to end and prevent the use of children in armed conflict.

CYNTHIA CHIDIAC (Lebanon) said that millions of children remain trapped between what the world promised them 30 years ago in establishing the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and what the world delivered. All States must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and the Convention to ensure the best interest of children � even when conditions are extremely dire. Lebanon's national Committee for the Elimination of Child Labour incepted a programme to end the worst forms of child labour, he explained.

INASS A. T. ELMARMURI (Libya) said the world must focus on providing sufficient assistance to children in armed conflicts. Helping children who live in low-income countries is particularly important because these young people could end up in the hands of human traffickers as they try to migrate to countries with better conditions. Despite all the challenges that Libya faces, the Government is determined to implement the Convention of the Right to the Child, notably by providing free education, and offering health and social services to protect children from all forms of violence, she said.

DEVITA ABRAHAM (Trinidad and Tobago), associating with Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said several articles of the Convention of the Right of the Child have been incorporated into her country's domestic legislation, efforts that have informed the first draft national child policy, which recognizes children's developmental needs and their current and future roles as social agents. On child labour, Trinidad and Tobago is working with the ILO to raise awareness about its standards, and more broadly working to reduce child abuse, with the help UNICEF, non-governmental organizations and faith-based groups.

Mr. RUMONGI (Rwanda), associating himself with the African Group, said that through a policy framework, his Government has made investments to ensure that girls are empowered. Rwanda has established scholarships for girls living in poor areas to address their high dropout rate, and among other initiatives, champions the He for She movement against gender-based violence. Trends are alarming for children worldwide, he said, noting that protracted conflicts, new conflict dynamics and a widespread disregard for international humanitarian law have all had devastating effects on children. Rwanda is committed to ensuring that children are empowered as citizens able to contribute to the country's development.

ALI MABKHOT SALEM BALOBAID (Yemen), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the Government has taken many measures to protect and promote children's rights. It ratified the Optional Protocol on the protection of children in armed conflict and joined the Safe Schools Declaration in 2017. Yemen is also part of the coalition to rehabilitate children and reintegrate them into societies. Yemen awaits the visit by the Special Representative of Children in Armed Conflict to see the progress made. Referring to the Secretary-General's report on children in armed conflict, he denied the presence of any children in Yemen's armed forces and stressed the need to update the relevant monitoring mechanism.

RICARDO RODRIGO MOSCOSO (Panama) reiterated his country's robust commitment to children and voluntary contributions to UNICEF. Panama has made significant progress in implementing the Convention and prioritized children's protection by establishing public-private partnerships. Panama has been a regional leader in removing children from institutions, establishing a national committee to ensure that children live with families, not in hostels, he assured.

Mr. ALSUWAID (United Arab Emirates) said his country has enacted laws to provide them with special care, entrenching their rights in the national Constitution. The country has child specialists with the authority to remove children from dangerous situations. In less dangerous places, these specialists visit children at home and provide them with social services. At the international level, the United Arab Emirates has contributed $357 million to UNICEF in the last five years, and in 2018, hosted a global conference on the sexual exploitation of children through the Internet, attended by 450 participants and religious leaders.

HONG JIN UM (Republic of Korea) reiterated his country's support for global citizenship education, which nurtures shared values and respect for diversity. The Republic of Korea, together with Qatar, has co-chaired the Group of Friends of Global Citizenship Education and hosted many related events in an effort to raise awareness for the need for transformative education. He underscored the importance of a holistic approach to addressing children's rights, pointing to the country's support for projects that address the needs of women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations, prevent sexual violence, and enhance the capacities of communities under the Action with Women and Peace initiative.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said his country is among the earliest ratifying countries of various important United Nations instruments pertaining to child rights. Since 2010, Bangladesh has ensured that, up to grade ten, children receive new textbooks free of cost. In 2019 alone, more than 350 million books were distributed, the biggest such undertaking in the world. In addition, Bangladesh has created a network of 18,000 community clinic and union health centres to bring the entire population under health coverage.

Ms. ZHU HUI LAN (China) said that in many parts of the world, hunger, child labour and drugs threaten the lives of children. Achieving peace is the best protection against such threats. Developed countries should shoulder more responsibilities and help countries through financial assistance and other means. China has a law on the protection of minors and laid the legal foundation to protect children's rights and interests. It has also committed to improving the health of children in poor areas, and since 2012, implemented a nutrition programme to tackle poor nutrition.

ALBERT SHINGIRO (Burundi), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said he advocated new strategies and actions to help the millions of children around the world who continue to suffer. Burundi has been a party to the Convention since 1990 and has ratified the two Optional Protocols. It has created a national committee for childhood protection and spoken out in favour of a specific justice system for minors � one that is more educational and less punitive. Burundi also has a cash transfer system that focuses on families living in extreme poverty, as well as a school programme to prevent school dropouts.

SONAM C. NAMGYEL (Bhutan), calling poverty the biggest obstacle for the advancement of children, stressed the importance of achieving Sustainable Development Goals 3 (health) and 4 (quality education). Bhutan is close to achieving universal primary education, with a 96.8 per cent enrolment rate. Legislative measures have been taken to ensure children's protection from domestic violence and during adoption, with other efforts focused on early childhood care, and an array of learning methods and levels � general, tertiary, non-formal and continuing education. Further, a host of caregivers, counsellors, judiciary, police and non-governmental organization staff have been trained on child protection. To strengthen support services, Bhutan established a toll-free helpline for women and children in difficult circumstances, as well as Women and Children Committees in all districts and major cities to enable timely access to prevention, response and reintegration services.

SABA M. F. M. ALFUHAID (Kuwait) said her country believes in peaceful and political solutions to global conflicts, particularly in the Arab world. Given that these conflicts exist, however, the international community should provide protections to children in conflict areas, especially by ensuring they receive safe humanitarian aid without conditions. Kuwait provides aid to countries in conflict through UNICEF, to the tune of $230 million since 2010. That figure makes Kuwait the largest donor in the region. In addition, Kuwait's Constitution stipulates that the family is the heart of society and protects children and mothers.

ANTA�NIO GUMENDE (Mozambique), associating himself with the African Group and Southern African Development Community (SADC), said children comprise 55 per cent of the population and their well being is a national priority. He described the five-year plan which outlines strategic actions to improve the lives of children; the dissemination of updated reproductive health information; and anti-trafficking instruments which are being supplemented by relevant training given to judges, police, migration agents and prosecutors. Mozambique is combating early child marriage through an inclusive approach which criminalizes under 18 marriages and has put into action a three-year national strategy involving civil society, public institutions and non-governmental organizations. It is also implementing the SADC Model Law on Eradicating Early Marriage, in order to combat the issue regionally, and plans to reinforce actions to implement General Assembly resolution 73/153 on ending child, forced and early marriages.

GEORGI VELIKOV PANAYOTOV (Bulgaria), associating himself with the European Union, welcomed all efforts to protect and promote children's rights around the world, in particular children with disabilities and those deprived of parental care. Bulgaria is committed to ensuring inclusiveness for all, especially children with disabilities, by improving the national education system. Equal access to quality education and life long learning enables persons with disabilities to participate meaningfully in society. Bulgaria continues to promote inclusive education on the national, global and regional levels, he added.

ANEL BAKYTBEKKYZY (Kyrgyzstan) said children's participation in preschool has reached 91 per cent. Drawing attention to the improving legal framework for the protection of children's rights, he said Kyrgyzstan was the first Central Asian country to adopt a code on children, introducing the need for basic quality standards in providing related services. One of the requirements is to establish an Ombudsman for Children, he said, underscoring the need to also improve health care, medical services, the spread of high-tech medicine and access to both education and social protections.

PETRA MIJIC (Croatia) said her country prohibits all forms of violence against children as set out in the National Strategy for the Rights of the Child and makes considerable efforts to put this into practice. Notably, it financially supports civil society projects aimed at preventing such abuse, involving a number of stakeholders, including UNICEF. While information and communications technology offer children connection, preventing violence against children perpetrated through the use of such technologies is a serious challenge.

JULIO DA COSTA FREITAS (Timor-Leste) said his country developed a national action plan for children 2016-2020, a key recommendation made by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2015. The action plan was embraced at the highest levels and is the first inter ministerial national strategic plan focused on children. Timor-Leste also established a child rights commission, as well as policies on inclusive education. It integrated sexual and reproductive health into the education curriculum, in addition to providing subsidies for mothers, he said, acknowledging persistent challenges in the areas of child labour, early pregnancy and early marriage.

MILICA PEJANOVIC A�URISIC (Montenegro) said her country has adopted child rights legislation covering 2019-2023. It also passed legislation explicitly prohibiting corporal punishment of children, but domestic and school violence remains a serious challenge, she said. Alongside the European Union and other partners, national institutions will be working on the implementation of the national programme for early child development 2019-2021, focusing on preschool education and multisectoral cooperation. Montenegro has also promoted media literacy among parents and children.

THILAKAMUNI REKHA NISANSALA GUNASEKERA (Sri Lanka) stressed the role of education in poverty reduction, peaceful and inclusive societies and economic growth. In this context, Sri Lanka implements consistent policies on education and health, providing free and universal access to education and raising the minimum age for compulsory education for all children from 14 to 16. Sri Lanka maintains a zero-tolerance towards any violence against children, with priority focused on the establishment of child and women bureaus in police stations, as well as child protection officers attached to all Divisional Secretariats across the country. She called for global efforts to address emerging challenges threatening the protection of children's rights, including climate change, conflict, terrorism and cybercrime.

Source: United Nations