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UNICEF home The State of the World's Children
2002 Photo © UNICEF



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 May 2002.

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.

© UNICEF/97-1034/Pirozzi

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 and violence.

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:
The South East Asia and Pacific Regional Children/Young People Forum, Jomtien
The European Youth Centre, Budapest Consultation
The Change Makers
Regional Youth Forum

Previous: Leadership from 1990-2000

Next: The Global Movement for Children: 'Say Yes for Children'



'In brief'

Leadership from 1990- 2000
The United Nations Special Session on Children
The Global Movement for Children: 'Say Yes for Children'
The magic of leadership
Acts of leadership
Leadership challenges
Good for children, good for the world
It takes a leader to listen
The costs of children's silence
Every nation has a role to play