UNICEF: Ending poverty begins with children
Please note: Last-minute scheduling changes meant that the speech
by UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy described below was delivered
by Deputy Executive Director Kul Gautam. Please continue to use Ms.
Bellamy's name with the quotes.
Tuesday, 27 June 2000: Poverty reduction begins with children, most urgently
the 600 million who are among the world's most deprived. UNICEF Executive
Director Carol Bellamy said this in a statement delivered at a follow-up
conference to the World Summit for Social Development. She said the world
could escape unimaginable poverty in a generation if it agrees to focus
on the urgent needs of the 600 million children and young people who are
among the most deprived in today's world.
Ms. Bellamy stressed the need to address four challenges and seek three
outcomes. The challenges are the HIV/AIDs pandemic, the prevalence of
armed conflicts, continuing gender discrimination and deep poverty.
The desireable outcomes would:
- Guarantee the very youngest children a good start in life, nurture,
care and a safe environment that enables them to survive, be physically
healthy, mentally alert, emotionally secure, socially competent and
able to learn.
- Give all children an opportunity to complete a good, quality basic
education. Special attention would be paid to remedying present glaring
inequities in both girl's and women's education.
- Provide adolescents an opportunity to develop fully their individual
capacity in safe and enabling environments that empower them to participate
in, contribute to, their societies.
The Geneva gathering of UN and world development leaders, collectively
known as Geneva 2000 and Copenhagen +5, is evaluating progress since
the 1995 Copenhagen Summit set out a series of ambitious goals
to eradicate poverty, promote jobs, livelihoods, and end social exclusion.
Ms. Bellamy explained that her emphasis on three key outcomes results
from UNICEF's 50- year experience with what works in situations of great
deprivation and need.
"There is a growing body of scientific evidence that early childhood
care is pivotal to how a child grows and develops from birth to up to
the eighth year. Proper care can greatly influence a child's continued
learning and psycho-social development in later years. Creating such
conditions is not a question of charity, but of the rights of children,
and it would lay the foundation for strong economies over time.
"An extra 30 cents out of every one hundred dollars would ensure
that every child on the planet is healthy, well-nourished and enrolled
in primary school. But money alone will not defeat deep poverty. Unless
we are genuinely committed to do for children what they most need to
have done, all the money in the world will not break the cycle of destitution
Ms. Bellamy said economic recovery in several parts of the developing
world, and a surge in international trade and private capital flows
during the 1990s, creates a basis for new partnerships that could enhance
the future of the world's poorest children.
"We have a $30 trillion global economy which leaves 1.2 billion people
-- a fifth of the human race -- struggling to survive on less than a
dollar a day," she said. "We need to agree that the time to address
the basic needs of the 600 million of them who are children is right
Ms. Bellamy said governments in developing countries have been spending,
on average, between 12 and 15 per cent of their national budgets on
basic social services, while donor countries have been spending between
10 and 15 per cent of their aid budget on the same services.
A slight upward tick in both donor and developing countries, and focusing
on the needs of children, could lead to a truly effective campaign to
end poverty, she noted.
UNICEF's stress on childhood development and their right to basic social
services is the outgrowth of history's most universally embraced human
rights instrument, the Convention on the Rights of the Child. "The 191
ratifications of the Convention reflect a global consensus that investing
in children is the surest way to maximize the political, social and
economic development of families and communities and countries - and
to achieve a better future for all."
Ms. Bellamy said that UNICEF is ready to play a key role with many
old and new partners in facilitating a move toward providing the crucial
services that can make the difference between poverty and self sufficiency.
"We are helping NGOs and Governments on the ground in unimaginably
bad situations," she said "Helping children escape garbage dump subsistence
in Brazil, protecting 3,500 street children in New Delhi, sponsoring
HIV/AIDS prevention education in Uganda and Thailand. But we will be
taking one step forward and two steps back unless we simply say that
the mountain we want to climb is plain to us. And that when the climb
is over, we will be looking at a world where the rights and needs of
every child are honoured, a world where poverty is finally in flight."
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with comments or requests for more information, quoting CF/DOC/PR/2000/54