Historisk arkiv

Promotion and protection of the rights of the children

Historisk arkiv

Publisert under: Regjeringen Bondevik II

Utgiver: Barne- og familiedepartementet

Ambassadør Johan M. Løvald

FNs 59. generalforsamling.

Ambassadør Johan M. Løvald

New York, 18. oktober 2004

Mr Chair,

At the UN Special Session on Children in May 2002, “A World Fit for Children”, one of the messages from the Children’s Forum was: “We are not the sources of problems; we are the resources that are needed to solve them.” According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children and young people are individuals with the right to participate fully in the society in which they live. Children’s active participation is of the utmost importance in the implementation of the convention.

In Norway a number of amendments to national legislation have been made in implementing the convention, which strengthen the child’s right to be heard.

Moreover, children’s own views were included in Norway’s third report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, submitted in April 2003. Additional observations made by children and NGOs will be submitted in a supplementary report and are welcomed by the Norwegian authorities as important correctives to the national report.

Mr Chair,

In the outcome document from the UN Special Session on Children, governments committed themselves to a time-bound set of goals for children and young people and to formulating national plans of action. The Norwegian national plan of action was completed in December 2003, and set out 10 main goals and strategies.

Children with disabilities encounter more profound barriers in life than other children. The youth perspective was strongly highlighted in the 8 th> International Congress on Including Children with Disabilities in the Community, hosted by the Norwegian Government in June this summer. The success of the conference was due to the fact that young people themselves, some of them with severe disabilities, participated actively at various stages of the planning process and in drawing up the declaration. Norway hopes that this practice of including the youth perspective will be continued at the next congress, which will take place in 2006. The upcoming meeting of WSIS-II should include children and young people from all over the world, as they are important stakeholders in the information society.

Mr Chair,

Norway fully supports the recent initiative taken by the UN Secretary-General to study the question of violence against children. Simply separating the child from the perpetrator is no solution in cases of violence. Nor is it sufficient to offer the child individual therapy or counselling. The child’s recovery is dependent on the community’s understanding and continuous support. Not only the child victim, but all children and young people should be helped to develop social skills and empathy, skills of inclusion and understanding. Programmes promoting empathy should be compulsory in every school and community.

Violence against children is a question of fundamental human rights, and must never be reduced to be a private matter; it is a question of shared responsibility, it concerns all of us. Norway is deeply committed to finding strategies to prevent all forms of violence against boys and girls, and the report that will be presented by the UN independent expert Mr Paulo Pinheiro will be received with great interest.

Mr Chair,

Norway is encouraged to learn from the Secretary General’s report on the follow-up to the United Nations Special Session on Children that at least 170 countries have either taken or foresee some form of action to translate the goals of the special session into action. The report, however, also demonstrate that current efforts need to be scaled up and better supported - both by resource allocation and at the political level. As pointed out in the report, in many countries the implementation of programmes for children will continue to be a challenge due to lack of institutional capacity, in addition to budgetary constraints and, in a number of cases, conflict and instability.

We all know that chronic poverty remains the single biggest obstacle to meeting the needs of children and protecting and promoting their rights. Poverty is a breeding ground for human rights violations, and it also gives rise to conflict and child abuse. Conflict in turn reinforces poverty. We must intensify our efforts in conflict-prevention, humanitarian assistance, peacebuilding and long-term development co-operation. Norway will allocate more to development, and will seek to persuade other donor countries to do the same. The Norwegian Government’s goal is to increase our Official Development Assistance from the current level of 0.93 to 1 per cent of GNI by 2005.

Investing in children is central to the Norwegian Plan of Action for Combating Poverty in the South towards 2015. Norway views education for all as our job number one. Education is a precondition for economic, social and cultural development. It promotes health and plays a major role in combating HIV/AIDS. Education should be a key priority in national poverty reduction strategies. The efforts to combat AIDS call for a multifaceted approach and are therefore integrated into most of Norway’s development co-operation activities.

We agree with the Secretary-General’s statement in his report on the follow-up to the UN special session that more attention must be paid to child trafficking. In accordance with the Norwegian Plan of Action for Combating Trafficking in Women and Children, which was drawn up in 2003, Norway will continue to take part in international efforts to prevent and combat this serious crime. In this respect it is important to address the root causes of trafficking, which are social deprivation, and lack of employment and educational opportunities.

We are particularly concerned about the widespread use of children in armed conflict by both governments and armed groups. We are particularly worried about the lack of international concern for the deplorable situation of the children of northern Uganda as a result of the ongoing conflict. The conflict in Sudan is another example of the devastating effects conflicts have on the most vulnerable individuals in our society. Norway has, together with NGOs and UNICEF, been supporting the ongoing efforts to demobilise and reintegrate child soldiers in these areas.

We welcome the report prepared by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. We are encouraged by the increased attention that is being paid to children’s concerns on the agendas of the General Assembly and the Security Council, and we commend the Special Representative for his success in raising the profile of CAAC issues. We are especially pleased to see that the protection of civilians in armed conflict, particularly children, has become an integral part of the Security Council’s agenda.

The Secretary-General’s report on the comprehensive assessment of the United Nations’ response to children affected by armed conflict raises important questions. Questions about the development and application of international standards for CAAC, the degree of mainstreaming of these issues within the relevant UN entities, and the effectiveness of the co-ordination of CAAC concerns within the UN. Although the report states that significant progress has been achieved in efforts to strengthen international norms and standards, it concludes that more needs to be done by the various components of the UN, particularly in applying accepted norms and standards and putting in place an effective monitoring and reporting mechanism.

In our view the report, with its many recommendations, provides a good basis for further discussions on how to improve the effectiveness of the UN response to the CAAC agenda. In addition to continued vigorous advocacy and an effective monitoring and reporting system on child rights violations, and enhanced mainstreaming and improved co-ordination across the UN system, we also consider it very important that the roles of key UN bodies and the division of labour among the various UN actors concerned with CAAC agenda be analysed.

Mr Chair,

A final decision as to whether the activities under the mandate of the SRSG will be supported through the regular budgetary funding is still pending. We are all aware of the budgetary and institutional constraints under which SRSG ’s mandate has been operating. We regard it as very important that the office is given sufficient resources to carry out its mandate on a sound and predictable financial basis. In our opinion, funding from the regular budget would also enhance the transparency and accountability of the office. This should be taken into account when the final decision is taken on the future funding of the office.