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UNICEF History

World Summit for Children

A selection of historical documents

On 29-30 September 1990 the largest gathering of world leaders that had ever been held assembled at the United Nations to attend the World Summit for Children. Led by 71 heads of state and government and 88 other senior officials, mostly at the ministerial level, the World Summit adopted a Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children and a Plan of Action for implementing the Declaration in the 1990s.

The World Summit for Children was a landmark event, not only for UNICEF, but for the world and especially for its children. It was the first occasion in history when a Summit-level meeting was held exclusively to address children's issues.

The following is a brief selection of historical documents relating the World Summit.

First Call for Children

First Call for Children: World Declaration and Plan of Action from the World Summit for Children
"This booklet contains the text of these historic documents...In committing themselves to pursue these goals, the leaders of the world have agreed to be guided by the principle of a 'first call for children' -- a principle that the essential needs of children should be given high priority in the allocation of resources, in bad times as well as in good times, at national and international as well as at family levels."


Children and Development in the 1990sChildren and Development in the 1990s: A UNICEF sourcebook - on the occasion of the World Summit for Children
Total 266 pages. Part 1 (pp. i-x and 1-38) | part 2 (pp. 39-88) | part 3 (pp. 89-134) | part 4 (pp. 135-184) | part 5 (pp. 185-234) | part 6 (pp. 235-256)
"This Sourcebook on Children and Development in the 1990s has been compiled on the occasion of the World Summit for Children, but it is intended to be of use well beyond that momentous event. It is meant for all those who wish to extend their knowledge of any of the themes under discussion at, or around, the Summit...."
--from the Overview of the 'Sourcebook on Children and Development in the 1990s'

Other documents

World Summit discussion paper
"The following is a discussion paper on issues related to a proposed World Summit for Children, and reflects a consensus of ideas and conclusions derived from discussions within UNICEF and among Governments and other allies for children." 1 May 1989.

Decision to call a World Summit for Children
A memo from UNICEF Executive Director James Grant to UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar.

Schedule and programme
The original World Summit schedule and programme of events. 16 July 1990.

Information Note for Participants
The Note addresses "issues regarding administrative and logistical arrangements pertinent to the participation of Heads of State or Government and their respective Delegations in the World Summit for Children." 16 July 1990.



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