Creating a world fit for children may seem impossibly far away, but achieving it is as simple as this: We must do everything in our power to keep our commitments to children. These commitments are clear and unambiguous. What is now required is the understanding that a commitment is a pledge with both moral and practical obligations. In a moral sense, a commitment signifies a relationship of duty. In practical terms, a commitment binds those making it to a course of action.
This was implicitly recognized at the Millennium Summit in 2000, which translated fine words and noble aspirations into time-bound development objectives in the Millennium Declaration - against which the world's leaders undertook to be measured and held accountable.
The Millennium agenda for children is eminently attainable. What is needed now is firm and decisive action on three key fronts over the next 10 years:
Meet the Millennium Development Goals: At the September 2005 World Summit, world leaders reaffirmed their commitment to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Achieving the MDGs must be the first step towards providing universal access to essential services, protection and participation for children. Those countries falling behind on the goals must redouble their efforts, with ample support from donors and international agencies, while those currently on course must strive to go beyond the goals to meet the challenge of eliminating disparities in children's health, education and development.
Reach out to the excluded and the invisible: Our commitments to children demand that we reach out to those most in need of care and protection - the poorest and the most vulnerable, the exploited and the abused. We must confront unpalatable truths about the many disparities and abuses suffered by excluded and invisible children within our countries, societies and communities, and across borders, and do our utmost to eliminate them.
Work together: Making this possible will require more than political will or well intentioned strategies. No government, agency or organization can meet any of the goals by itself; the Millennium agenda will not be achieved without effective, creative and consistent partnerships. We must all not only acknowledge our responsibility to be part of the solution, but also be ready and willing to work together on behalf of children. We must be their partners - seeking to empower them as well as to include and protect them, with the knowledge that realizing the Millennium Declaration's vision of a world of peace, equity, tolerance, security, freedom, respect for the environment and shared responsibility depends on ensuring that no child is excluded or invisible. The children of the world, especially those who so often miss out on the opportunities they need to grow and thrive, are counting on us.