More than 60 world leaders slated to attend upcoming special UN session on children

13 March 2002

More than 60 heads of State or government are slated to attend a special session of the United Nations General Assembly in May to examine global progress for children and the key role that investment in youngsters can play in building international peace and security, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said today.

More than 60 heads of State or government are slated to attend a special session of the United Nations General Assembly in May to examine global progress for children and the key role that investment in youngsters can play in building international peace and security, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said today.

"I cannot imagine a truly better world that does not have at its foundation civilized treatment for up and coming generations," UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said in a statement issued in New York. "Quality basic education for all children, decent health care, opportunities for positive participation in society, and protection from exploitation - these are basics that in too many places, for too many children, remain distant dreams."

Originally scheduled to take place last September but postponed in the wake of the terror attacks against the United States, the Special Session on Children will be held from 8 to 10 May in New York and is an end-of-decade follow-up to the 1990 World Summit for Children. The conference is expected to focus on how investment in children's education, health, and protection contributes to global stability and peace and conclude with the adoption of a new set of goals focused on children and an action plan to reach them.

"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," UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan wrote last June in a progress report detailing what had been done towards the targets set in 1990 and what had been left undone. "It has fallen short largely because of insufficient investment."

The Secretary-General's report, "We The Children," contains some alarming statistics: out of every 100 children born today, the births of 40 will not be registered at all; 26 will not be immunized against any disease and 19 will have no access to clean drinking water. One in three will suffer from malnutrition in the first five years of life, 17 will never go to school - of these, 9 will be girls - and of every 100 who begin the 1st grade, only 25 will reach the 5th grade.

"We have the resources and the knowledge to overcome these challenges," Ms. Bellamy said. "Our aim at the Special Session is to convince world leaders that investing in children is their number one responsibility - and that investing in children is the only lasting strategy for reducing poverty, stopping AIDS, and avoiding conflict."

 

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