New UNICEF report shows progress - and setbacks - in fight for children's rights

New UNICEF report shows progress - and setbacks - in fight for children's rights

The world has achieved significant progress over the past decade in reaching international goals for helping children, but setbacks along the way threaten to undermine earlier gains, according to a report released today by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

We the Children, an end-of-decade review of the achievements made since the 1990 World Summit for Children, paints a mixed picture but emphasizes that overall, "a good foundation has been laid" to reach the Summit's objectives and to tackle emerging concerns.

Introducing the report at a press conference in New York, UNICEF chief Carol Bellamy called it "without a doubt, the most comprehensive study of what is happening to the world's children today." She called attention to the progress made over the past decade, noting that some 63 countries had achieved the Summit goal of one third reduction in mortality among children under the age of five, and that in over 100 countries, under-five deaths were cut by one fifth. In terms of education, there were more children in school than ever before, she said.

But the report also warns that "for all the millions of young lives that have been saved, and for all the futures that have been enhanced," many of the Summit's goals remain unfulfilled. Over 10 million children still die each year from "readily preventable causes," while some 150 million children are malnourished. Over 100 million are still out of school.

The report blames these problems on a lack of adequate funding. "The world has fallen short of achieving most of the goals of the World Summit for Children not because they were too ambitious or were technically beyond reach. It has fallen short largely because of insufficient investment."

UNICEF looks to the General Assembly's upcoming special session on children to reverse this trend, stressing that the event " must inspire the vision, commitment and leadership that is needed to fulfil the promise of a better future for every child."