UN Assembly session to renew commitment to world’s children, officials say

UN Assembly session to renew commitment to world’s children, officials say

The United Nations is set to renew its commitment to the world's children and adolescents next week as the General Assembly dedicates a landmark three-day special session to explore long-standing obstacles to young people's well-being and development, UN officials said today.

"The special session is going to provide us with an opportunity to review the developments since the World Summit for Children in 1990," Ambassador Patricia Durrant of Jamaica, who co-chaired the preparatory committee for the session, told a press conference in New York this afternoon. The special session would allow the leaders who were coming to address the Summit's "unfinished business," including several goals that had remained unfulfilled in the areas of health, nutrition, education and protection.

Next week's session "will be vigorously followed-up," she said, noting that a declaration and plan of action setting out goals to help promote a better world for children had been developed. "Within the framework of the goals and targets which we are developing, countries will be called upon to focus action on four major areas of concern: health, education, child protection and HIV/AIDS," she noted, stressing the need to involve a wide-range of partners in the process.

"Children are better off today than they were 10 years ago," Carol Bellamy, the Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said, noting that the Summit goal of reducing under-five mortality had been reached in many countries. Meetings that came out with concrete goals - and she believed ultimately the special session's plan of action would be one - could make a difference if leaders went back to their countries and did something about it. "That's the reason for having this meeting," she said.

The special session, to be held from 8 to 10 May, will bring together at UN headquarters over 70 heads of State and government, as well as non-governmental organizations, children's advocates and children themselves. The session will also feature an unprecedented number of youths serving as representatives of their official delegations - so far, 179 of the 300 young participants have registered as members of government delegations from 101 countries.

The remaining children are part of accredited NGO delegations.

Many more young people are expected to sign up, forming a youthful counterpoint to the heads of State and government that will attend the session.