|© UNICEF Tokyo/2007|
|In Seoul, Republic of Korea, children read a message of hope at the ceremony launching the Korean Parliamentarian Friends of UNICEF.|
SEOUL, South Korea, 19 June 2007 – A new group, the Korean Parliamentarian Friends of UNICEF, has been established in Seoul to further advance efforts on behalf of the world’s children and to strengthen the partnership between UNICEF and the Republic of Korea.
The group of 34 key members of the National Assembly, from both the ruling and opposition parties, wanted to ensure that children’s issues at home and abroad would remain high on the political and development agenda.
Led by Hon. Sang Kyung Lee and Hon. Myoung Ock Ahn, the group formed the network earlier this month to galvanize a strong commitment to children’s issues that exists within the National Assembly. The Friends of UNICEF mission statement clearly reflects this commitment, saying: “We shall work together regardless of our political parties and we will cooperate with all organizations and people for the cause of children.”
Message from the Secretary-General
As part of its first action, the group launched the Korean version of ‘Eliminating Violence against Children’ – the latest handbook for parliamentarians developed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UNICEF – with support from the National Assembly and the Korean Committee for UNICEF.
The handbook was introduced by Sung-Ki Ahn, one of the Republic of Korea’s UNICEF Ambassadors and a renowned actor, along with two member parliamentarians.
|© UNICEF Tokyo/2007|
|Members of the new Korean Parliamentarian Friends of UNICEF receives a UNICEF flag at their inaugural event.|
“The establishment of the Korean Parliamentarian Friends of UNICEF group within the National Assembly is very meaningful,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a congratulatory message. “The Republic of Korea was a recipient of international aid through UNICEF. Nowadays, Korea is not only a donor country but also it's a growing supporter of UNICEF”
Rapidly growing support
The official ceremony inaugurating Friends of UNICEF was attended by members of the group and high-level government officials, as well as representatives of the diplomatic corps based in Seoul, UNICEF, other UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and academia.
During the event, six children from primary and secondary schools in Seoul conveyed their hopes and expectations regarding the promise of ‘A World Fit for Children’ set forth at the 2002 UN Special Session on Children. They were particularly keen on advancing youth rights in South Korea.
“There are many aspects that threaten children in our society,” said one of the children. “We are happy that the Korean Parliamentarian Friends of UNICEF will become our strong supporters.”
UNICEF started emergency relief operations for the children of the Republic of Korea in 1950, when the Korean War broke out, and continued its assistance until 1993. Since then, the country’s support for UNICEF has since grown rapidly; it currently ranks 20th among government donors to the organization worldwide.