GOVERNMENTS 'SAY YES' TO GLOBAL PLAN FOR CHILDREN

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UNITED NATIONS, New York (May 13, 2002 - PINA Nius Online)---The United Nations wrapped up its Special Session on Children with unanimous agreement on a new agenda.

[See: UN Special Session On Children at http://www.un.org/ga/children/

UNICEF -- the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund -- said it includes 21 specific goals and targets for child health, education and protection over the next decade.

The UN General Assembly Special Session on Children concluded after:

- a week of inter-governmental negotiations on the new agenda for children;

- scores of supporting events delving into everything from immunization to child trafficking; and

- a refreshingly frank exchange between heads of state and young people from around the world.

Representatives from some 180 nations adopted the conference outcome document, entitled "A World Fit For Children."

More than 18 months of consensus building resulted in a strong future agenda focused on four key priorities:

- promoting healthy lives;

- providing quality education for all;

- protecting children against abuse, exploitation and violence; and

- combating HIV/AIDS.

Elusive language on child rights, reproductive health, and other issues was resolved in good-faith negotiating sessions that lasted through the night.

"I am enormously proud and pleased at what has been accomplished this week," said Carol Bellamy, executive director of UNICEF.

"If leaders keep the promises they have made, we can bring about enormous positive change in the world in less than a generation."

Bellamy praised the government negotiators who worked hard to build consensus on the document. "No one wants to fail our children," Bellamy said.

"When it comes to their health and welfare, there is really very little difference among nations. And when governments take children seriously, long negotiations are entirely appropriate.

"But the work does not end this week. It will take committed and bold leadership over the next few years if we are to meet the standards we have set for ourselves.

"In the 1990s we learned that making promises is not enough -- you have to act on them."

Nonetheless, the UNICEF chief -- who throughout the conference dashed tirelessly from meetings with heads of state, to substantive panels, to press briefings with children -- was upbeat.

"We have a document the world and its children can be proud of," Bellamy said. She noted that it was the participation of young people themselves in the Special Session that likely had the greatest impact on world leaders.

She listed the accomplishments of the week:

- a strong outcome document setting the agenda for children over the next decade;

- a powerful and unanimous statement to the leaders of the world from nearly 400 youth delegates, who held their own debates before joining the adults;

- a new partnership to provide better nutrition for children through the fortification of staple foods in developing countries, launched with a $50million gift from Bill and Melinda Gates;

- individual acts of leadership such as the pledge by Peru's president to cut military spending and re-direct public money to basic services for children; and

- a successful global pledge campaign called 'Say Yes for Children," which more than 95 million people supported with pledges to uphold children's rights

"But I think we really made a huge difference by having so many young people as official delegates," Bellamy said. She pointed out that children took part in official General Assembly business for the first time.

"They made an enormous impact on everyone who met with them, from heads of government on down. And they presented a very clear and united view of their aspirations and their expectations.

"I can't imagine ever going back to summits on children's issues without young people there to represent their own experiences, views, and outlook."

Bellamy also praised the leadership of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who participated throughout the conference. She said he went out of his way to make the children welcome and to put them at the heart of the United Nations agenda.

"Look, it wasn't always easy, but the governments of the world got where they had to get" she said.

"They agreed to 21 concrete, time-bound goals for children, and to a basic framework for getting there. That result is the product of an understanding that any lasting progress in the world must begin with investment in children. That underlying truth can now be pursued. Let's get to it."

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

 

PACIFIC DELEGATES IN KATHMANDU FOR KEY FOOD, AGRICULTURE MEETING

KATHMANDU, Nepal (May 13, 2002 - PINA Nius Online)---Representatives of five Pacific Islands nations are in Kathmandu to attend the 26th United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Asia-Pacific regional conference.

The conference will review the state of agriculture and food security in the region.

Fiji, the Marshall Islands, Samoa, the Solomon Islands and Tonga are sending delegations to this week's conference, which is being held for the first time in the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal.

Among the high-level representatives are:

§ Tonga's Prime Minister, Prince Ulukalala Lavaka Ata;

§ Marshall Islands Minister of Resources and Development John Silk;

§ Samoa's Minister of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries and Meteorology Tuisugaletaua Aliimalemanu Sofara Aveau; and

§ Solomon Islands Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Stephen Paeni.

The Kathmandu meeting is one of a series of FAO regional conferences in preparation for a gathering of world leaders during the World Food Summit: Five Years Later (WFS:fyl). This is to be held at FAO headquarters in Rome, June 10-13.

WFS: fyl is being convened to mobilize the political will and resources to accelerate global hunger reduction in keeping with the 1996 World Food Summit pledge to halve hunger levels by the year 2015.

Pacific island nations, however, have different food security concerns. These countries are concerned about ensuring consumption of healthier foods.

The increasing popularity of processed foods in Pacific Islands countries is a main threat to food security.

Agricultural ministers from the Pacific meet biennially to review the implementation of the 1996 World Food Summit plan of action.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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