The State of the World's Children 2000

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Within a single Generation: The global agenda

Measures of humanity

When challenges are great, determining success is never simple. But certain benchmarks exist that help define universal standards of basic moral decency and against which the world can gauge the depth of its commitments and the success of its efforts. Grounded in the principles and articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, they are goals around which a global alliance can come together on behalf of children-that infants start life healthy and young children are nurtured in a caring environment; that all children including the poorest and most disadvantaged complete a basic education of good quality; and that adolescents have the opportunities to develop fully and participate in their societies.

Each of these in its own right is worthy of a global movement. Taken together, they set down the basic structure of a humane society.

The world has more children living in poverty than it did 10 years ago. It is more unstable and more violent than it was in 1990 when leaders at the World Summit pledged to reach 27 goals for children and women by the year 2000.

What were not easy promises to keep in the last 10 years are even more difficult today, and so the leadership that is called for now is qualitatively different than before. It is a leadership not only of governments but one broad enough to include all those in every country of every region who have embraced the cause of children as their own. As part of one of the more phenomenal movements in history, this 21st century leadership will be tested often and tested severely in the coming years.

It will need to be far-sighted enough to ensure that all pregnant women are adequately nourished and immediate enough to protect children from being deliberately slaughtered in conflict.

It will need to be as specifically focused as the monks who serve as HIV/AIDS community counsellors in the Mekong Delta region of East Asia and as broad as changing the world's mindset about the rights of women and children.

It will need to be on as grand a scale as the 1992 constitutional amendment in India-home to 1 billion people-that set aside a third of all governmental seats for women and a percentage of those for women of the lowest castes. And as personal as sending a young girl to school rather than keeping her at home.

No less will do.

See also:

Figure 6: Growing wealth and declining ODA

Figure 7: Money spent on HIV/AIDS (1996 - US$)

Panel 5: Seeds of peace: Young people in Colombia

Panel 6: The education age, past due

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