Sending Six Draft Resolutions to General Assembly, Third Committee Unanimously Approves Basket of Anti-Crime Texts
Taking a strong stand on a range of issues from prisoners’ rights to protecting cultural property, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) sent six draft resolutions on crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control to the General Assembly today, unanimously approving the texts, one on the elimination of violence against children in the area of crime prevention and criminal justice
Also by that text, the General Assembly would strongly condemn all acts of violence against children, reaffirm the duty of the State to protect children from all forms of violence in both public and private settings, and call for the elimination of impunity, including by investigating and prosecuting, with due process, and punishing all perpetrators. The Assembly would, by the draft text, urge Member States to take all necessary and effective measures to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against children who came in contact with the justice system as victims, witnesses or alleged or recognized offenders, and to provide for consistency in their laws and policies.
By the terms of a text on minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners, the Assembly would recommend to Member States to reduce prison overcrowding, promote increased access to justice and legal defence mechanisms, reinforce alternatives to imprisonment and support rehabilitation and reintegration programmes.
Other draft texts approved without a vote addressed international cooperation in criminal matters; international guidelines for crime prevention and criminal justice responses with respect to trafficking in cultural property and other related offences; follow-up to the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and preparations for the Thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice; and on the special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem to be held in 2016.
The Committee also heard the introduction of four draft resolutions related to social development, and one on crime prevention and criminal justice.
During its morning meeting, the Committee continued its discussion on the rights of children, with Maarit Kohonen Sheriff, Deputy Head of Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) New York, presenting two reports on child, early and forced marriages. Emphasizing that the practice had negative effects on women and girls, exposing them to exploitation, she stressed the importance of including the elimination of child, early and forced marriage as a specific target in the post-2015 agenda.
Regional representatives and delegates then told the Committee of their national and global efforts along with the challenges ahead. Echoing a common concern, a representative of Costa Rica, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said poverty and inequality were among the roots of many harsh realities children faced, including trafficking, rape, abuse and pornography. Education was a key enabler of human and social development and a critical means to rectifying gross inequalities, said a representative of Barbados, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), voicing a view shared throughout the debate.
Also participating in that debate were representatives of Myanmar (on behalf of Association of South-East Asian Nations and in a national capacity), Zimbabwe (on behalf of Southern African Development Community), Italy, United States, Russian Federation, Cuba, Norway, India, Japan, Switzerland, Peru, Thailand, Morocco, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Singapore, Liechtenstein, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Bolivia (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), , United Republic of Tanzania, Mongolia, Uganda, Syria, Senegal, Slovenia, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Mexico, Nicaragua, Iraq, Colombia, Ethiopia, South Africa, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Honduras, Chile, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Brunei Darussalam, as well as the European Union.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 17 October to continue its general discussions on the advancement of women and on rights of children.
The Third Committee met this morning to continue its consideration of the promotion and protection of the rights of children. For background, see Press Release GA/SHC/4103. Before the Committee were two notes by the Secretary-General containing, respectively, the report of High Commissioner for Human Rights on preventing and eliminating child, early and forced marriage (document A/69/166) and the summary report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the panel discussion on preventing and eliminating child, early and forced marriage (document A/69/165).
It also heard the introduction of four draft resolutions on social development: Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly (document A/C.3/69/L.11); Realizing the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed upon development goals for persons with disabilities towards 2015 and beyond (document A/C.3/69/L.10); World Youth Skills Day (document A/C.3/69/L.13); and Literacy for life: shaping future agendas (document A/C.3/69/L.9).
With regard to crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control, a draft resolution the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (document A/C.3/69/L.17) was introduced.
The Committee was then expected to take action on seven draft resolutions: Follow-up to the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and preparations for the Thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (document A/C.3/69/L.2); Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (document A/C.3/69/L.3); International cooperation in criminal matters (document A/C.3/69/L.4); United Nations Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Children in the Field of Crime Prevention (document A/C.3/69/L.5); Rule of law, crime prevention and criminal justice in the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015 (document A/C.3/69/L.6); International Guidelines for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Responses with Respect to Trafficking in Cultural Property and Other Related Offences (document A/C.3/69/L.7); and on the Special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem to be held in 2016 (document A/C.3/69/L.8).
MAARIT KOHONEN SHERIFF, Deputy Head of the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) New York, presented two reports: a study on preventing and elimination child, early and forced marriage (document A/69/166); and a summary report of the panel discussion on child, early and forced marriages held during the twenty-sixth session of the Human Rights Council (document A/69/165). With those in mind, she said the practice had a negative impact on the capacity of women and girls to fully realize their rights. It also exposed women and girls to violence and exploitation due to differences in age and power relations between them and their husbands.
Targeted action was necessary to identify communities in which girls were at high risk of child, early and forced marriage, she said. There should also be “comprehensive, age-appropriate, culturally relevant education” for women and girls regarding sexuality, sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender equality and life-skills training.
Yet for such measures to be effective, States must ensure coordination among stakeholders, including between government bodies at the national and local levels, civil society organizations, such as women’s groups, religious community leaders, national human rights institutions, United Nations agencies and other relevant actors. Traditional and religious leaders, as well as men and boys, could play an important role. Concluding, she stressed that it was important to include the elimination of child, early and forced marriage as a specific target in the post-2015 development agenda.
ADRIANA MURILLO RUIN (Costa Rica), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said global averages often masked growing inequalities with regard to key indicators, as millions of children were affected by socio-political crisis, armed conflict, natural disaster and extreme poverty. Addressing the disproportionate concentration of children living in extreme poverty and reducing persistent disparities in health, education and other crucial child well-being indicators, she said the international community needed to ensure that the post-2015 development agenda included the poorest and most vulnerable children around the world, including those with disabilities, indigenous children, children of African descent and migrant children.
Regarding those with disabilities and indigenous children, she said that due attention must be paid to their vulnerabilities, the full enjoyment of their rights and meeting their basic needs as a matter of priority. On migrant children, she called on transit and destination countries to effectively promote and protect their human rights and fundamental freedoms and address irregular migration from a humanitarian perspective. On children involved in trafficking, smuggling, sale for purpose of sexual exploitation, rape, abuse, sale of organs, sexual tourism, pornography and cybercrime, she said those situations were linked to poverty, social inequality, discrimination, migration, insecurity and organized crime. She concluded by calling for the causes of those circumstances to be tackled.
JULIETTE ROSITA RILEY (Barbados), speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that as countries that had emerged from slavery and colonialism, members recognized that education was a key enabler of human and social development and a critical means to rectify gross inequalities. Aware of the transformative role played by education, she continued, the majority of countries in the region had achieved universal access to primary education, almost halving the number of children out of school between 2000 and 2011. Despite progress made, daunting challenges persisted in terms of continuing to provide adequate social safety nets for the most vulnerable of its citizens within the framework of austerity programmes, which often demanded rollbacks in health, education and other public services.
Turning to the issue of adolescent pregnancy, she said that girls who became pregnant at 15 or younger were more likely to experience premature delivery, health problems with their newborns, an increased likeliness of newborn death and interruption of their education. Initiatives to tackle that issue included access to quality sexual and reproductive healthcare services, age-appropriate, accurate, comprehensive education on human sexuality, social protection mechanisms and common legal standards across the region concerning the age of marriage.
KYAW TIN (Myanmar), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the post-2015 development agenda presented a golden opportunity to double efforts to overcome inequities affecting the poorest and most vulnerable children. Noting that disparities and inequities of development growth had affected children, especially in least developed and developing countries, the disproportionate concentration of extreme poverty among children remained a huge barrier to the accomplishment of children’s rights.
Turning to protecting children against violence, he said that ASEAN leaders were making tremendous efforts, the most recent of which had been the adoption of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and Elimination of Violence against Children. Reflecting the group’s collective efforts to strengthen legal and policy frameworks and institutional capacity, he said, the Declaration also outlined a roadmap to develop effective strategies to eliminate harmful practices that perpetuated gender stereotyping and violence against women and children. Concluding, he reaffirmed the group’s commitment to continue prioritizing the welfare of its children, who represented the future of the region’s continued peace and prosperity.
CHARLES MSOSA (Malawi), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that political instability, economic crisis and climate change made it difficult for members to attend to the rights of the child. Children in armed conflicts had witnessed acts of military brutality and had been denied the chance to enjoy life in peace. Welcoming partnership agreements between the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and the African Union, he added that the well-being of children depended on the well-being of their communities. Therefore, a family-centred approach was necessary to ensure children’s rights. Child welfare was at the core of human social development and African States had committed themselves individually and collectively to the rights of the child.
Turning to child marriage, he said governments and the African Union were engaged in advocacy and awareness-raising. The African Group believed that child marriage led to exploitation and a lack of participation in economic opportunities. The international community should continue to coordinate efforts, including through the allocation of funds, to end all forms of violence against children. Given that many African children remained vulnerable to poverty, hunger, disease and climate change, the sustainable development framework should pay due attention to their rights.
Speaking in his national capacity, he said that the Government of Malawi was considering passing a law on marriage that set the minimum age to 18 for girls and boys, thereby putting an end to the practice of child and early marriages.
FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said members would join other States in celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. He also congratulated the State of Palestine on its accession to the Convention as the 194th State Party. In his region, poverty remained the underlying cause for all forms of vulnerability for children. That was why many children continued to struggle to enjoy the most basic rights, such as education and health, and economic and social advancement opportunities. Against that backdrop, he said, SADC members had designed various policies to expand access to education for all.
With regard to health, despite some progress, infant and under-five mortality rates continued to be a matter of deep concern. Even though member countries had made significant progress in reducing mother-to-child HIV transmission through various interventions, he said protecting and promoting the rights of children had continued to face challenges as a result of the negative legacy of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, resulting in significant increases to the number of orphans and vulnerable children and youth in the region. Concluding, he reiterated the group’s commitment to promote and protect the rights of children in the region, welcoming strategic partnerships with all relevant stakeholders.
EVA CHARLOTTA SCHLYTER, of the European Union Delegation, said that her group, together with the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC), would be introducing the annual resolution on the rights of the child during the Committee’s current session. The post-2015 development agenda needed to respond to new challenges and tackle issues of global concern that had not been sufficiently covered by the Millennium Development Goals. Further, strong accountability mechanisms were necessary to track progress. The European Union Agenda for the Rights of the Child, she added, focused on a number of concrete priorities, such as a child-friendly justice and the protection of children in vulnerable situations.
Millions of children around the world, she continued, bore the burden of war and its atrocities. The European Union welcomed the Organization’s attention to children living through armed conflict and supported all ongoing efforts to fight impunity and address persistent perpetrators. Her group also supported the Children, Not Soldiers campaign, jointly initiated with UNICEF, which aimed to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by government forces in conflicts by 2016. The European Union also strongly welcomed the General Assembly’s landmark resolution banning the practice of female genital mutilation.
SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy) acknowledged the progress made in advancing the rights of the child, yet noted the persisting challenges. Given the scope and complexity involved in protecting the rights of the child, he called for a coordinated and integrated response by the international community, which applied in particular, to the United Nations campaign “Children, not soldiers”. The same approach was needed, he continued, when dealing with children with disabilities, so that they could integrate effectively and with dignity into the life cycle of their communities. Raising awareness and creating legal frameworks were not enough, he added. Instead, action was needed to provide every child with the knowledge, skills, security and safety needed to determine his or her path in life.
CAROL HAMILTON (United States) said her country was party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two optional protocols, and was committed to protecting the rights of the child, inside and outside its borders. The Government was expanding access to high quality education for children from low-income families and the Affordable Healthcare Act was lowering the cost of children’s health care. As the Secretary-General’s report indicated, the global under-five mortality rate had almost been halved. However, the international community had been horrified by the images of “the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS)” rounding up young girls and selling them as sex slaves. The children of Syria continued to suffer physical and psychological pain under a brutal regime, she said. Being born a girl should not mean being forced into an early marriage. When adolescent girls were empowered, it benefited everyone because they grew up into agents for change. “We have a lot to learn from our children,” she concluded, adding that the international community must do more to leave them the world they deserved.
NIKOLAI RAKOFSKY (Russian Federation) said his country was fully dedicated to compliance with the Convention, as it was a universal guideline for protecting children’s rights. There had been a global trend in violence against children, he said, adding that his country welcomed the effort of international community towards the promotion and protection of their rights. However, the Russian Federation was concerned about children in the south eastern part of Ukraine who were suffering from mass violations of human rights. Stressing the destruction of infrastructure, kindergartens, hospitals, schools and orphanages in that area, he called upon the Ukrainian delegation to engage in dialogue.
JAIRO RODRÍGUEZ HERNÁNDEZ (Cuba) said that without a balanced world order, it was impossible to reduce child mortality. Lauding efforts made by UNICEF, he added that the protection of children’s rights was a big priority for Cuba, which was party to the Convention on the Rights of Children. For its part, Cuba had started implementing child welfare policies thirty years before signing the Convention because those rights were enshrined in its constitution. The Government allocated 50 per cent of its budget for education, health care and social services. All Cuban children were vaccinated at birth and priority was given to early detection of congenital diseases. Such feats were attained by the Cuban people despite the economic and trade blockade imposed by the United States. Even though Cuba needed anti-viral medications to protect the health of its children, the North American companies that produced those medications said they could not trade with Cuba, he concluded.
MAY-ELIN STENER (Norway) said the Convention on the Rights of the Child had inspired changes in laws, institutions and policies, which had improved the lives of many children around the world. The Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi was a boost to the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Convention, sending an important message of support and recognition to those individuals around the world who worked tirelessly to defend the rights of children. Despite efforts to create safe surroundings for all children, violence and abuse was taking place, she continued. In that regard, she called for engagement at all levels, including community leaders and men, to end violence against children as well as child marriage.
MAYANK JOSHI (India) said that his country was home to nearly 472 million children, 20 per cent of all the world’s children. The Indian constitution provided children with a range of services, including free and compulsory education for children up to age 14, and there was nearly universal enrolment for primary education. The Government’s current focus was on the expansion of secondary education and its accessibility to girls. Further, the innovative “Mother & Child” tracking system leveraged information technology for ensuring the delivery of a full spectrum of health care services to pregnant women and immunization services to children up to age five. The Government had also undertaken legislative and policy measures to ban sex-selective abortion and child marriage. Further, India remained strongly committed to the eradication of all forms of child labour, he said, noting that recent amendments to law prescribed stringent punishment to combat human trafficking, including the sale of children.
ARINO YAGUCHI (Japan) said that Japan was working tirelessly to protect and promote the rights of children. Because so many of them, especially girls, were not permitted or able to attend school, the country had implemented a number of projects aimed at the improvement of these “unbearable conditions”. In Nigeria, where Boko Haram had abducted girls, Japan contributed $855,000 toward health care and psycho-social support for victims and communities. The country had also joined efforts to eliminate the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, extending approximately $76 million over the past five years to support their reintegration into society. In response to the Ebola outbreak, Japan had sent experts to the World Health Organization (WHO) and had recently pledged an additional $40 million in assistance to international organizations combatting the disease.
CHRISTINE LÖW (Switzerland), calling on Member States that that had not yet ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child to do so, said that it was necessary to pursue efforts to ensure that children were informed of their rights. Promoting education, changing social norms, and giving children access to legal remedies were all crucial steps towards ending violence against them. Children were especially vulnerable in prison, she added, informing the Committee of the World Congress on Juvenile Justice, to take place in Geneva, Switzerland in January 2015. In recent months, Switzerland had bolstered its commitment to protecting children recruited by regular armed forced and non-State armed groups.
WALTER HABICH MORALES (Peru) said that his country had made significant progress in the protection of child and adolescent rights. Its Action Plan 2012-2021 was a framework that guided the country’s work in that matter with a focus on reducing child mortality, increasing access to education and diminishing violence against children. Peru also had a food programme to ensure that children were given sustainable, healthy, locally produced food from the time they entered school until age 13. Reducing child labour and building on achievements made in education were other priority areas, he said, noting that the child and adolescents office in Peru was decentralized and brought civil society organizations together in common efforts. In closing, he said his country would continue to work with the international community to improve the rights of children.
CHAYAPAN BAMRUNGPHONG (Thailand) said his country had tried to uphold the rights of children based on long-standing commitments set forth in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and protocols on the promotion and protection of children’s rights. As a member of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Board, he continued, Thailand aimed at enhancing cooperation between the Fund and Member States in humanitarian situations, as well as universal access to education and healthcare for children. Further, he said that the issue of violence against children was a priority to the Government, which had actively engaged in efforts to eradicate that problem. In conclusion, he underlined that Thailand had advocated for the inclusion of combatting violence against children in the post-2015 development agenda, which must go beyond basic education and healthcare, and ensure that children enjoyed freedom from fear.
ABDERRAZZAK LAASSEL (Morocco) said the protection of children’s rights was key to strengthening social cohesion and protecting family unity. Despite challenges in protecting children from abuse and ensuring proper living conditions within society, Government had a continuous commitment to their rights and fighting violence against them. For its part, Morocco had undertaken measures and reforms and made commitments at both national and global levels. In that regard, the Government’s two main priorities were reducing disparities among children and equitable access to education and health. The Government also established scholarship programme to ensure children’s enrolment in primary school.
ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil) said the Convention’s twenty-fifth anniversary offered an opportunity to reflect on progress achieved and challenges remaining in protecting children and overcoming inequality. Stressing that women and children constituted the majority of affected groups living in poverty, Brazil was a strong advocate for the inclusion of children’s rights as an integral component of the post-2015 agenda. The number of children separated from their families due to conflict, migration or extreme poverty was on the rise, he said, calling upon Member States to enhance their efforts in the care and protection of children within the post-2015 framework. Saluting Nobel Peace Prize winners Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, he said “the award honoured many more Malalas who exist in all our countries but have not been visible or received the recognition they deserve.” Concluding, he highlighted the need to build a set of goals that could be easily understood and translated into concrete action by decision makers all over the world.
MILDRED GUZMÁN MADERA (Dominican Republic), noting that her country recently ratified the Convention’s optional protocol on the involvement children in armed conflicts, said the instrument’s twenty-fifth anniversary was a great opportunity to consider the shortcomings in the fight to protect the rights of the child. For its part, the Dominican Republic had established a solidarity programme to fight poverty. Other national programmes aimed at enhancing literacy and reforming education because the latter was “the best tool for our children”. The Office of the First Lady in her country had been focusing on the social protection of children and had helped to create a centre for children suffering from Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other conditions. In closing, she said the Dominican Republic was also an active partner in various regional initiatives committed to eradicating child labour and trafficking.
PAO JIA YU (Singapore) said that investing in and nurturing children to their fullest potential was not only an issue of child rights but was also an imperative for the survival of her country. Unfortunately, bullying among children was a serious issue, as 58 per cent of children in Singapore between 8 and 17 had been bullied. Her country also had the second highest rate in the world of online bullying of youth. Singapore took the mental health of its children seriously, and strove to provide a platform for children to develop and flourish through an accessible, affordable and high-quality education system. In closing, she cited Nelson Mandela, who once said that “history will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.”
KATHRIN NESCHER (Liechtenstein) said that her country condemned the unspeakable violence committed by Boko Haram and believed that the Security Council should enhance its efforts to ensure accountability and make full and productive use of the tools available to it. Furthermore, the Council should enhance its cooperation with international tribunals and consider referring situations to the International Criminal Court. Protecting children from violence was a moral and legal imperative, she said. One of the lessons from the Millennium Development Goals process had shown was that despite progress, countries affected by violence tended to lag behind in efforts towards achieving targets. Therefore, her country reiterated support for the proposed sustainable development goal 16, especially the proposal for target 16.2, which called for an end to abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children.
SU LAY NYO (Myanmar), speaking in her national capacity, said it was time to reflect the progress made since the adoption of the Convention. Myanmar’s ratification to the Convention and signing of its Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, she said, was a true reflection of her Government’s commitment to promoting and protecting the rights of all children in the country. Poverty was one of the main factors blocking children’s access to education, which perpetuated a negative cycle. In that regard, the Government had signed an agreement with the World Bank Group and the Government of Australia that aimed to provide millions of students with a quality education in better financed schools with financial support. Concluding, she urged Member States to work together to promote and protect the rights of the child and enhance their support of developing countries to save the children through reducing poverty.
KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), aligning his delegation with the statement delivered on behalf of the ASEAN, said that children made up 50 per cent of the total population of the country. With that in mind, his Government attached great importance to the protection of the rights of the child and was implementing policies and strategies to deal with human trafficking and provide food and nutrition to children. His country also believed in strengthening institutions, improving cross-sector collaboration and had established the National Commission for Mother and Child, an inter-agency body responsible for monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In addition, a juvenile chamber had been created in the court system to deal with cases involving children, he concluded.
Introduction of Draft Resolutions
The Committee heard the introduction of four draft resolutions relating to social development and one relating to crime prevention.
On behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, Bolivia’s delegate introduced draft texts on the Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly (document A/C.3/69/L.11) and on World Youth Skills Day (document A/C.3/69/L.13).
A representative of the United Republic of Tanzania then introduced a draft text on realizing the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed upon development goals for persons with disabilities towards 2015 and beyond (document A/C.3/69/L.10).
Following that, Mongolia’s representative introduced a draft text on Literacy for life (document A/C.3/69/L.9).
A representative of Uganda, on behalf of the Group of African States, presented a draft on the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (document A/C.3/69/L.17).
Action on Texts
The Committee then took action on seven draft resolutions relating to crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control, recommended by the Economic and Social Council for adoption by the General Assembly.
Acting without a vote, it approved the following four draft texts: Follow-up to the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and preparations for the Thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (document A/C.3/69/L.2); Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (document A/C.3/69/L.3); and International cooperation in criminal matters (document A/C.3/69/L.4). Also without a vote, it approved draft texts on International Guidelines for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Responses with Respect to Trafficking in Cultural Property and Other Related Offences (document A/C.3/69/L.7) and on the Special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem to be held in 2016 (document A/C.3/69/L.8).
Speaking before the Committee took action on a draft resolution on United Nations Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Children in the Field of Crime Prevention (document A/C.3/69/L.5), a representative of Singapore said that the Government would implement the text’s recommendations, while bearing in mind national obligations. That draft text was then approved without a vote.
Thailand’s representative, as the main sponsor of the draft resolution on Rule of law, crime prevention and criminal justice in the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015 (document A/C.3/69/L.6), asked to defer the action in order to correct a typographical error. The Committee agreed to defer action on that draft text.
The Committee then returned to its general discussion on children’s rights.
MONIA AL-SALEH (Syria) said it had been more than three years since Syrian children had been suffering from the violence of extremist and terrorist groups supported by the Arab world and other States. Those jihadist groups were planting radical ideas in the minds of male children and taking the innocence of girls to satisfy their needs. Further, she continued, Syrian children were subjected to brainwashing with ideas of violence and terrorism against their homelands. Turning to the refugee camps in neighbouring countries, she said Turkey was not a safe refuge for Syrian children due to reported cases of rape, trafficking and child recruitment by terrorist groups. In addition, she criticized the representative of the United States for having double standards for being shocked by pictures of Iraqi children in conflict, yet she had no feelings for the Syrian children suffering from the violence of terrorist groups.
IBRAHIMA SORY SYLLA (Senegal) said his country was hopeful for a better future on the eve of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as 194 countries were now signatories. Despite increasing numbers of States involved in the promotion and protection of the rights of children, he underlined the need to address the challenges children were suffering from conflict situations. Further, poverty reduction must be tackled to better promote their rights. Concluding, he said his country was deeply committed to dealing with children living with HIV/AIDS, a topic that must be taken into account in the post-2015 development agenda.
MATEJ MARN (Slovenia) stressed the need to involve children in matters affecting them, including participating in national initiatives, including a round table discussion between his country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and children as well as the National Children Parliament. Another example, he continued, was the participation of children in the area of school and peer mediation that was taking place in kindergarten, primary and secondary schools and already contributing to reducing violence and increasing the respect for human rights and diversity. Recognizing the impact media coverage had on children, he said that specific guidelines had been developed to prevent the victimization of children in media.
SAEED AHMED ALSHAMSI (United Arab Emirates) said progress in the protection and promotion of the rights of children had not been equal in all States, calling for the incorporation of their rights in the post-2015 development agenda. “We need to double our international and national efforts for creating a better world for children,” he said, calling for international efforts to protect them from harmful practices, such as child marriage and armed conflict. At the national level, he said that education was obligatory and that there were penalties and sanctions against those who violated the law. Support had also been given to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to provide vaccines to developing countries, he concluded.
GREGORY DEMPSEY (Canada) noted the gains made since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals. However, he said, millions of children continued to lack access to health, millions of girls were still child brides and millions lived in conflict. The conflicts in Syria and Iraq had displaced millions of children, exposing them to many kinds of violence, including sexual violence. “A child is not a soldier, nor a spouse, nor a sexual object,” he said, “Children are children.” They needed to be protected and provided with health care and education, especially in humanitarian and fragile situations.
ROBERTO DE LEÓN HUERTA (Mexico) said it was the right moment to give priority to violence against children in the post-2015 development agenda on the eve of celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Convention. Stressing the devastating effects of school bullying on children and adolescents, Mexico strongly believed in the need to combat that form of violence with a multidimensional approach. Further, he said his delegation was concerned with child labour, which needed to be prevented and eradicated. Concluding, he said, his country was giving special attention to the protection of children against violence, generating a mechanism to address related issues.
MARÍA CLARISA GOLDRICK (Nicaragua) spoke of the restoration of all the rights of children, including free access to education and health. Other initiatives revolved around the important role played by the family in the well-being of children, as well as on the need for vaccines and comprehensive care during early childhood. Another way to guarantee the well-being of children, she continued, was to ensure registration at birth, which assured their full rights as citizens.
ZAHRAA SALMAN (Iraq) said children made up the majority of the population in many countries, making their protection critical to creating a balanced society. She then noted the difficulties encountered by her country due to recent terrorist attacks carried out, in terms of kidnapping, displacement and murder. Children were also exposed, she continued, to illness and malnutrition, worsening the situation. Progress made by the Government in tackling these issues included a rise in the level of education, the provision of education in national languages, as well as a ban on the recruitment of children to armed groups.
MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ (Colombia) said his country was committed to protecting and promoting the rights of children. Announcing his Government’s three priorities – peace, equity and education – Colombia was working to improve the lives of children by minimizing the inequity that still affected the country. For instance, only 46 out of 100 young people had access to higher education. To be equitable, she continued, the Government had created a programme offering 400,000 university scholarships to the best high school students. Also, the Government had expanded health programmes, which resulted in the reduction of malnutrition from 16 per cent to 13.2 per cent. Concluding, he said his country had designed programmes to prevent recruitment of children into armed groups and reintegrate the ones who left back into the society.
FIRDOSA IBRAHIM (Ethiopia) said that the promotion and protection of the rights of children had been a priority for her country, where children constituted a large segment of the population. Significant steps had been taken to ensure compatibility between national laws and relevant international human rights instruments. Through the implementation of its health policy, Ethiopia had reduced the under-five mortality rate three years ahead of the deadline. Primary education was free for all citizens, and all children were encouraged to go to school. Female genital mutilation and early marriage had been banned in the country and their rates of practice had dropped dramatically. The Government had also criminalized trafficking of children and had made 18 the minimum age of recruitment to the armed forces. The constitution explicitly forbade acts of violence that affected children and a child-friendly system had been instituted in the judiciary to deal with rights of offenders.
TSHAMANO MILUBI (South Africa) said that his country was working hard to ensure that children had access to basic social services, such as education, sanitation and safe drinking water. South Africa condemned the actions of militias, such as Boko Haram, that were harming the future of the region’s children. It was vital that the United Nations system collaborated with Member States on specific strategies to combat such militias. A legal framework was urgently needed, he said, adding that his country was deeply concerned about the plight of children in armed conflict. There should be no impunity for those who committed such offences. Turning to his country, he noted that the Government had directed substantial resources to early childhood development and had already achieved the Millennium Development Goals goal of universal primary education.
DRAGANA ANĐELIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said that the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Convention underscored the importance of public awareness of children’s rights. Stressing that children were the victims of all forms of violence, especially in conflict zones, she said her Government supported the Children, Not Soldiers campaign, which aimed at ending and preventing the recruitment and use of children by national security forces. Concluding, she said, Bosnia and Herzegovina was ready to continue to ensure the promotion and protection of the rights of children for the sake of their future.
DULCE SÁNCHEZ (Honduras) said that there was a serious humanitarian crisis in her region because of the migration of unaccompanied boys and girls. Such migration, due to drug trafficking, inequity, social exclusion, domestic abuse or family reunification, exposed children to increased risks and vulnerability to violence. Therefore, the Government was working to reintegrate child migrants with their families and communities and prevent illegal migration to other countries by creating opportunities. It was vital to integrate and coordinate efforts between countries of origin, transit and destination. Therefore, her country was working in partnership with other countries as well as other stakeholders including civil society organizations.
CRISTÍAN BARROS MELET (Chile) said that the inter-sectoral social protection system established in 2009 was one of Chile’s major achievements in the protection of children’s rights. His country was reforming the education system at all levels and had sent to Congress a bill to establish a deputy secretariat for education that would focus on pre-school education. The Government was also working to mend and adapt existing institutions. Reducing inequality within countries and between countries was one of the big challenges confronting the international community, he concluded.
KHALIFA ALHARARI (Libya) said his country was committed to applying the highest international standards to ensure the protection of children through regional and international instruments. Education was a right for all, he said, adding that his Government provided free education to all Libyans. In addition, Libya supported the Children, Not Soldiers campaign, which was launched in March 2014 by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF. Concluding, he condemned the crimes practised in Gaza, where Palestinian children were the victims, adding that the international community must shoulder its full responsibility to protect those children from violence.
RANIA TALAL ABDULBAQI (Saudi Arabia) expressed her country’s strong support for all efforts and measures taken by Member States and United Nations’ organizations and bodies working to promote and protect children’s rights. She said the promotion and protection of the rights of children were obligations derived from the Islamic sharia, which cared about all interests of children without discrimination based on colour, race, sex, sect or religion. Further, she noted that children were experiencing all forms of violence in conflict zones, such as rape, sexual exploitation, torture, ill-treatment, trafficking, involvement in armed conflicts and drugs crimes. In that regard, she called upon Member States to cooperate to find swift solutions to promote and protect children’s rights to ensure their access to a better future.
DAYANGKU SAIHALINA DAUD (Brunei Darussalam) said her country had met the Millennium Development Goals on the reduction of child mortality, improvement to maternal health and combatting HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases due to the Government’s proactive efforts. Highlighting the importance of a stable and loving atmosphere for raising children, she said her country had introduced several programmes to strengthen and empower families, such as pre-marital and post-marital courses, financial management, family values, domestic violence, parenting and communication skills. In recognition of the importance of family, Brunei celebrated a National Family Day on the first Sunday of May every year to enable families to spend more quality time with their children and family members.