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Our Commitments to Children

Meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the broader aims of the Millennium Declaration would transform the lives of millions of children who would be spared illness and premature death, escape extreme poverty and malnutrition, gain access to safe water and decent sanitation facilities and complete primary schooling.

Though some regions and countries have fallen behind, the goals can still be met. The Member States of the United Nations are committed to meeting the MDGs and have coalesced around a set of key initiatives to accelerate progress. Putting these initiatives into practice will demand renewed commitment to the Millennium agenda and additional resources. It will also require a much stronger focus on reaching those children currently excluded from essential services and denied protection and participation. Unless many more of these children are reached, several of the MDGs - particularly the goal on universal primary education - will simply not be met on time or in full.

The children who are hardest to reach include those living in the poorest countries and most deprived communities; children facing discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity, disability or membership of an indigenous group; children caught up in armed conflict or affected by HIV/AIDS; and children who lack a formal identity, who suffer child protection abuses or who are not treated as children. These children, the factors that exclude them and make them invisible, and the actions that those responsible for their well-being must take to safeguard and include them are the focus of The State of the World's Children 2006.

To meet the Millennium agenda for children, including the excluded and the invisible, the following is required:

  • A massive push is needed to boost access to essential services for those children and their families currently missing out. This includes immediate interventions - dubbed 'quick impact initiatives' - that can provide a vital kick-start to human development and poverty reduction.

  • Longer term initiatives that are rooted in a human rights-based approach to development - many of which are already underway - must be stepped up or launched at the same time as the immediate interventions, helping to ensure that the latter are as effective as possible. Building up national capacities, through strategies led by national governments and local communities, is the best way to ensure the sustainability of these initiatives over the longer term.

  • Deeper approaches must be taken that give special attention to the most vulnerable. This requires the participation of governments - through legislation, budgets, research and programmes - along with donors, international agencies, civil society, the media and the private sector to reach the children who are most at risk of missing out on the Millennium agenda.