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The meeting was called to order at 9.10 a.m.
Agenda items 8 and 9 ( continued)
Review of the achievements in the implementation and results of the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children and Plan of Action for Implementing the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children in the 1990s
Renewal of commitment and future action for children in the next decade
Draft resolution (A/S-27/L.1)
The President : The Assembly will now hear a statement by His Excellency Mr. Cheikh El Avia Ould Mohamed Khouna, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.
Mr. Ould Mohamed Khouna (Mauritania) (spoke in Arabic ): ...
We, the political leaders, are the greatest enemies of the children. If we love children, we should issue a declaration against war, hate, racism and greed. It is all a question of politics. Only then will we be able to resolve the problem of Palestine, and only then will we be able to make this world a better place for humankind.
The Acting President : I now give the floor to His Excellency Mr. Rashid Abdullah Al-Noaimi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates.
Mr. Al-Noaimi (United Arab Emirates) (spoke in Arabic ): ...
As we gather in the General Assembly to review the implementation of the Declaration and Plan of Action of the World Summit for Children, we must point out that Palestinian children like Mohammed Al-Durra and Jman Hajjou are daily being killed or physically and emotionally maimed, by Israeli military forces. We wonder why the international community, and the Security Council in particular, are ignoring international calls to protect the Palestinian people, Palestinian children in particular, from these criminal violations. We therefore stress from this rostrum the urgency of providing immediate international protection to Palestinian children to ensure that they enjoy safety and well-being like other children in the world, in compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the principles of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention. Similarly, we ask for relief from the suffering inhumanely imposed on the children of Iraq, who face daily tragedies as a consequence of the sanctions imposed on their country.
The Acting President : I now give the floor to Her Highness Shaikha Sabika Bint Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, President of the Supreme Council for Women of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Sheikha Sabika Bint Ebrahim Al-Khalifa (Bahrain) (spoke in Arabic ): ...
We have considered carefully the Secretary-General’s comprehensive report on children (A/S-27/3). In that connection, we should like to make the following observations. First, with regard to the protection of children in armed conflict, we point to the importance of taking practical measures against those who violate children’s rights in such conflicts. That would require the enactment, in coordination with international judicial bodies, of laws to protect children.
Secondly, although the report did not address the situation of children under foreign occupation, it is incumbent upon us to recall the plight of the suffering Palestinian children, who are subjected to the worst of conditions under Israeli occupation. In condemning all the offences perpetrated by the Israeli forces of occupation in the occupied Palestinian territories, which have caused the death of hundreds of Palestinian children, the Kingdom of Bahrain calls upon the international community to take a moral and humanitarian stand to put an end to those acts of aggression against the Palestinian people. What is taking place in occupied Palestine is not only a violation of international humanitarian law and of the Fourth Geneva Convention; it is also a breach of all human values and norms, and constitutes a threat to peace and security. That has been emphasized by His Majesty the King of Bahrain, who has said that
The Acting President : The Assembly will now hear a statement by Her Highness Princess Lalla Meryem, Chairperson of the delegation of Morocco.
Princess Meryem (Morocco) (spoke in Arabic): I have the great pleasure to convey to representatives here the greetings of His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco, who honoured me with the duty of reading out on his behalf the following royal statement, which His Majesty — given the particular interest and care that he attaches to this question — should have liked to deliver personally to the General Assembly at its special session on children.
“There is no doubt that we must make greater efforts to protect the rights of children working in extremely dismal conditions. I also deplore the suffering of children in the difficult circumstances created by the imposition of sanctions and armed conflicts, such as in Palestine and Iraq, where their basic right to life is at risk. The international community must shoulder its responsibility to find appropriate solutions for ending this tragedy.
The Acting President: I call on Mr. Emile Jarjou’i, Chairman of the observer delegation of Palestine.
Mr. Jarjou’i (Palestine) (spoke in Arabic): It is an honour and a pleasure for me to address this special session on children on behalf of President Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian people, and especially our children. This session is being convened more than a decade after the holding of the World Summit for Children to consider the state of the world’s children and to renew and intensify commitments aimed at improving their future well-being in all areas of life.
As we review the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Declaration on children, it is evident that many of the world’s children continue to be denied many of the rights that are guaranteed by these important international instruments.
Palestinian children do not enjoy many of those rights. Their lives are marked by the systematic denial and violation by Israel, the occupying Power, of their most basic rights, precluding the true enjoyment of rights to which other children of the world are, and should be, entitled. Palestinian children are the only children of the world without a State of their own. They live as refugees or under foreign occupation, or both. These realities are cause for deep regret, but they must also be cause for urgent action and involvement. Palestinian children have learned that the existence of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Declaration on children is important, but only if those instruments are implemented.
As adults, we may try to rationalize what is happening and make general statements to the effect that political efforts are under way to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But children are not interested in politics. They want to live, play, go to school, travel and explore their world. But they cannot. In the last 19 months, Israeli military forces, acting upon the directives of their Government, have indiscriminately killed hundreds of Palestinian children. Those children were killed by the Israeli military forces while they lay asleep in their beds, in the arms of their mothers, or while playing or going to school.
The killing of those children is inexcusable. They are not mere numbers that news broadcasters mention at the end of the day. They are our children and we will not forget them. These deaths represent a gross violation of their most basic right — the right to life. Numerous violations have taken place. Palestinian children and their families have suffered from the tremendous physical destruction caused by the Israeli onslaught. This includes the destruction of their homes, schools, playgrounds, libraries, roads, holy sites and vital facilities.
Their suffering has been particularly acute in the past month, following the continued escalation of the Israeli siege and the assaults on Palestinian cities, refugee camps and villages. Those areas have been devastated. The invasions and closures have led to the complete socio-economic suffocation of the Palestinian people. Over 60 per cent of our children now live in poverty. Hundreds of Palestinian children are still being illegally detained in Israeli prisons, and tens of thousands of Palestinian children have had their education disrupted. This has resulted in a dire humanitarian situation, in which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been denied normal access to the basic necessities of life, such as food, water and medical care. Thousands of children have been rendered homeless. This is the state in which Palestinian children find themselves today.
Although we still do not exercise sovereignty over our land, this has not prevented us — the Palestinian National Authority — from endorsing the Convention on the Rights of the Child or from giving high priority to implementing the measures laid out in the Convention. That commitment has been effectively translated into reality through the creation of specialized institutions such as the Palestinian High Council for Childhood and Motherhood, and the Secretariat of the National Plan of Action for Palestinian Children, which comprises the ministries of health, education, social affairs, youth and sports, culture, information, labour and public institutions. These entities — with the help of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and of donor countries — have developed specific programmes to meet the needs of children through preventive health care and medicine, education, social welfare and assistance, psychological health, summer camps and a host of other rights-based, child-friendly national programmes to benefit children’s well-being.
A draft Palestinian Child’s Rights Charter has been prepared that incorporates the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and that is now before the Palestinian Legislative Council. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics is actively collecting data and information in order effectively to produce a database and a monitoring system for children. Unfortunately, these efforts have been hampered by Israel’s continuing military incursions into the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem. This should come as no surprise to those familiar with the needs and rights of children. Progress is not really feasible or sustainable when children live in situations of war, occupation or poverty.
As we meet over the next few days, let us all remember that good intentions are not enough in and of themselves. Palestinian children, like children the world over, have the right to life, development, an identity, freedom of speech and movement, education and protection — I repeat, protection. We must translate our good intentions into good deeds. That is the path to peace. Our children have a right to be safe and to have their rights realized. As such, we request that the following necessary measures and actions be taken.
First, paragraphs 7 (7) and 41 of the draft outcome document of this special session, which specifically address the protection of children from war, must be implemented. This is an urgent issue for Palestinian children and for the international community at large.
Secondly, we demand that Palestinian children be provided with a normal life, free from foreign occupation, destruction and fear, in their own State.
Thirdly, we demand that Israel respect and implement the relevant provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, as well as the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
Fourthly, we demand that urgent international action be taken to protect Palestinian children now, and that immediate and safe access to health and educational services for Palestinian children be provided, including social and psychosocial services.
Fifthly, we demand that donor countries provide sufficient funds giving priority to directly supporting the well-being of Palestinian children and their families.
In conclusion, we appeal to the international community at this very important special session to shoulder its responsibility to end the suffering and the tragedy of Palestinian children. Let us all work together to ensure that we meet this challenge.
The meeting rose at 2.10 p.m.
This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. Corrections should be submitted to the original languages only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room C-178. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.