II. The United Nations Special Session on Children
The United Nations Special Session on Children, originally scheduled
for 19-21 September, was postponed by the General Assembly after
the terrorist attack that took place in New York just days before
the Session was to open. The meeting is now scheduled for 8-10
When government officials, NGO representatives and, most importantly,
children do finally meet together, they will get on with their
charge of assessing the progress that was made toward meeting
the goals of the 1990 World Summit for Children and determining
what's to be done next.
At the Special Session on Children, governments
will be asked to protect children like these swinging in
the playground of a centre for widows of the 1994 genocide,
outside Kigali, Rwanda.
The hoped-for results?
That governments will commit to very specific outcomes for the
world's children in the areas of child health and education, in
combating HIV/AIDS, and in protecting children from abuse, exploitation
As the world had prepared for the Special Session on Children,
a series of hi-level meetings [pdf]
of leaders from governments and the private sector took place
in every region throughout the world. Each session identified
young people's needs, hopes and fears and solutions for ensuring
children's fundamental human rights. And each gathering issued
a declaration of commitment to the children of their region: The
African Common Position, Beijing Declaration, The Berlin Commitment,
Kathmandu Understanding, The Kingston Consensus, Panama Declaration,
and The Rabat Declaration.
Many long-time leaders for children were in attendance at these
sessions and spoke eloquently of the child's vital role in society.
At the Pan African Forum, for example, H.E. Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak,
Egypt's First Lady, said, "Investing in children is investing
in prosperity, peace and stability for tomorrow. If our children
are healthy, well-educated and secure, our countries will be able
to overcome poverty and compete in the globalized economy."
Another series of meetings was called especially for children
and young people. An unprecedented number of children between
11 and 18 years old from all over East Asia participated in an
April 2001 meeting in Jomtien, Thailand. During the same month,
children from 27 countries across Europe and Central Asia met
in Budapest. In Kathmandu, a group called The Change Makers, representing
children from the eight South Asian countries, briefed the region's
corporate leaders about children's hopes: freedom from discrimination
in any form, healthy, clean environments, decent education and
opportunities for play rather than work.
At a Regional Youth Forum held in Amman, in November 2000, children
from the Middle East and North Africa called for an end to inequality,
violence and injustice.
When the rescheduled Special Session is called to order, participants
will have a unique opportunity to overturn the harmful policies
and practices from the past that perpetuate children's poverty,
lack of health care and inadequate schooling and their vulnerability
to exploitation, inequality and violence.
For additional information on topics mentioned in the text, click
on the links below:
South East Asia and Pacific Regional Children/Young People Forum,
European Youth Centre, Budapest Consultation