Mr Palm's speech during the International Childrens Day on 1 June 2012
Children’s rights are the rights of all children, regardless where they live. It is the same as for Human Rights, which apply to all people regardless where they come from, or where they are going to or, or what their belief, or their orientation.
Albania has made good progress in ensuring the rights of her children. School enrolment is high, and most children get treatment when they are sick. Most children grow up in loving families, and enjoy the support of their extended family or community.
This is a reason to celebrate. But the point about human rights is that the work is not done, until all children can enjoy their rights as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Until all children grow up in a family - and not in institutions - with adequate food, clothing and shelter, and learn early enough so they develop to their full potential. The work must focus on children who remain left out, who do not go to school, who live in a family that is unable to provide for the most basic needs. On children who are excluded from social life because of a disability, or who live in situations of risk, abuse and neglect. The work is not done until all children can enjoy their rights, even if they might not ever hear that the 1st of June is their special day.
While policies should ensure that all children can enjoy their rights, higher investments and efforts are needed for disadvantaged children. It is more expensive to educate a child from a poor family, than a child from a wealthy family. To make higher investments for poor children is not always the most popular political choice. But is the right thing to do – it is the human-rights way to do things.
We all do better in a world that is fair, and where progress is made with equity. There is a lot of evidence that more equitable societies do better in terms of economic growth, reduction of poverty, citizens’ satisfaction and many more indicators.
It seems that the stars have lined up over Albania to make another quantum leap towards the fulfilment of rights of the most disadvantaged children.
The Government has adopted a new Strategy and Action Plan for children. A wider reform of social services is being discussed and underway. The UN Committee on the Rights of Child will review the Albania report on the implementation of Children’s Convention in a few weeks, and make its recommendations, hopefully after more progress has been reported. And Albania has taken the presidency of the Council of Europe, and declared the human rights of children as one of its priorities. The eyes of the world will be on Albania to see – and perhaps even learn from Albania – how such noble goals are turned into reality. But the window is short - until the end of the year - and it requires extra effort, speed and determination. If we keep the energies focused, at central and at local level - and we are here to help - I am confident that much significant and tangible progress can be made.