Follow UNISPAL Twitter RSS
Agenda item 40 (continued)
Follow-up to the outcome of the special session on children
Report of the Secretary-General (A/59/274)
Mr. Mekdad (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic ): ...
At the international level, Syria has acceded to the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to ILO Convention No. 138 concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment. The employment age in Syria has been raised to 15 years. Syria has also acceded to ILO Convention No. 182 concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour. In that context, we would like to commend the work of UNICEF, its Executive Director Mrs. Carol Bellamy, the UNICEF Offices in the Middle East and the Damascus office for their efforts in the interests of children.
In spite of the achievements made in the area of children’s rights and care, my Government can not provide for all of the children of Syria, since thousands of Syrian children are still living, since 1967, under Israeli occupation in the Syrian Golan. Those children, just like their Palestinian brothers and sisters, suffer daily from the arbitrary actions of the occupation authorities, such as the closing and destruction of educational institutions. There are also many instances where Arab textbooks and curricula have been prohibited and Israeli curricula have been imposed, in an attempt to erase the national identity of younger generations.
We hope Mr. Olara Otunnu, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, will follow the situation of those children so as to familiarize the international community with their tragedy and to compel Israel to respect their rights, especially their right to life.
Acting in the best interest of children and keeping up with the challenges that this involves, in order to arrive at appropriate solutions to the problems of children without selectivity or double standards, is an endless task. We would like to affirm that the United Nations and its specialized agencies are quite capable of coordinating our efforts and mobilizing our potential to secure a better tomorrow for posterity and for humanity in its entirety.
The President (spoke in French ): We have heard the last speaker in the general debate for this meeting. I call on the representative of Israel, who wishes to speak in exercise of the right of reply. May I remind members that, in accordance with General Assembly decision 34/401, statements in exercise of the right of reply are limited to 10 minutes for the first intervention and five for the second and should be made by delegations from their seats.
Mr. Shacham (Israel): It is regrettable that I am forced to reply to the statement made by the Syrian representative, who has unfortunately exploited today’s debate on this vital global issue in order to advance a narrow and partisan political agenda. It is puzzling that the Syrian delegate chose to attack what he called Israeli occupation just one day after the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, voted to approve the disengagement plan, according to which the Israeli military and civilian presence will be removed from Gaza and the northern West Bank in the coming year. Before the vote on that issue, Prime Minister Sharon stated,