UN Children's Summit to draw large number of leaders from developing world

UN Children's Summit to draw large number of leaders from developing world

Leaders from more than 60 developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean have confirmed their participation in an upcoming United Nations summit on children's rights, but so far only seven heads of State from Western European and other industrialized nations are scheduled to attend the May forum, according to UN officials in New York.

A UN spokesman said that the President of the UN General Assembly, Han Seung-soo of the Republic of Korea, welcomed the planned high-level participation and urged other world leaders to attend the special session on children, set to take place from 8 to 10 May. The meeting, initially scheduled to take place in late September, was postponed following the terrorist attacks against the United States.

"The President was very pleased to learn that so many world leaders are planning to attend the summit," Mr. Han's spokesman, Jan Fischer, told the UN News Service. He added that the meeting was "extremely important" because it would not only review progress over the last decade but also set a new agenda for the future.

"Due to this importance, the President sincerely hopes that world leaders from all regions will take time out of their busy schedules to unite for the best cause of all: the children of the world," Mr. Fischer said.

In all, 65 leaders from the developing world have so far confirmed their attendance, including 31 from African countries such as Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda, according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), which plays a key role in preparations for the forum.

The 15 Latin American and Caribbean leaders that will be present include Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela, while the heads of Bangladesh, Jordan, the Republic of Korea and Sri Lanka are among the 12 from Asia that are slated to attend. Seven leaders from Eastern European countries will join the Summit, including those from Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Georgia.

The industrialized world, meanwhile, will be represented at the highest level by the Prime Ministers of Andorra and Liechtenstein, the Presidents of Finland and Portugal, the Chancellor of Austria and the Crown Prince of Monaco, UNICEF said.

The special session aims to review progress achieved since the landmark 1990 World Summit for Children, which attracted 18 heads of State and Government from Western European and other developed countries, including all members of the Group of Seven.

In addition to attracting high-level government participation, this year's special session will also be attended by representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), children's advocates and young people themselves.