|Executive Director Anthony Lake speaks at the Annual Session of the 2010 UNICEF Executive Board, held at UN headquarters in New York. Beside him are the President of the 2010 UNICEF Executive Board and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations, H.E. Dr. Abulkalam Abdul Momen, and UNICEF Executive Board Secretary Nicolas Pron.|
By Vivian Siu
NEW YORK, USA, 1 June 2010 – At the start of the 2010 Annual Session of UNICEF’s Executive Board today, His Excellency Dr. Abulkalam Abdul Momen, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh and President of the Executive Board, welcomed Executive Director Anthony Lake to the leadership post he assumed on 1 May.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Momen commended Mr. Lake’s leadership and experience in advancing children’s rights. He also reiterated UNICEF’s continued commitment to protecting those rights worldwide.
“Although 50 years have elapsed since the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child was adopted, the lives of millions of children today are still uncertain,” Dr. Momen said, referencing the landmark declaration adopted by the General Assembly in 1959. “Let us unite for the children at this critical juncture,” he added.
|The President of the 2010 UNICEF Executive Board and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations, H.E. Dr. Abulkalam Abdul Momen, speaks at the opening of the Executive Board's Annual Session, seated between Anthony Lake and Nicolas Pron.|
Progress towards development goals
As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asserted, children are at the heart of the Millennium Development Goals, and reaching vulnerable children is critical to achieving the MDGs by their 2015 target date. While UNICEF has made significant progress towards reaching the goals in the areas of health, nutrition and education, much work remains to be done – especially where women and children are the most marginalized.
In his first address to the Executive Board, Mr. Lake emphasized the importance of breaking down systemic and cultural barriers to development, and bridging extremes of wealth and poverty both between and within nations.
“I don’t think anyone in this room wants to see us engaged in an effort that widens, unintentionally, the gap between rich and poor,” he said, “especially when we’re engaged in the greatest push to reduce global poverty the world has ever seen.”
|Delegates from China attend the Annual Session of the 2010 UNICEF Executive Board at UN headquarters.|
Reaching the most vulnerable
Mr. Lake went on to urge continued efforts by UNICEF in the most impoverished and remote corners of the globe, in order to ensure that the most forgotten children are not further neglected.
“I believe strongly that the bottom quintile must become the world’s top priority,” he said. “Wherever the world’s poorest children are, wherever the most vulnerable children are, wherever the forgotten children are – that is where we must also be in even greater measure than in the past.”
Mr. Lake also highlighted technologies and innovations that have enabled UNICEF to work better and smarter in the field to reach the MDGs. Technologies such as SMS text messaging, he noted, are allowing programme staff to monitor vaccine shortages, bed net distributions, and pandemic outbreaks. Other innovations, such as new ‘Mother-Baby Packs’ of antibiotic and anti-retroviral medications, are helping to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Work with partners
It is UNICEF’s moral imperative, Mr. Lake concluded, to reach the world’s most at-risk children – and to do so in a spirit of partnership.
“We cannot hope to achieve the results, the victories we seek for children if UNICEF seeks to go it alone,” he said. “If another partner or organization can do something better than we can, we should support them, just as we look to their support in the areas of our own greatest strength. These are highly complex challenges, but we have an unprecedented opportunity to make sustainable progress for the forgotten children at a critical, historic moment.”