Question of Palestine home
15 November 2000
rd plenary meeting
Wednesday, 15 November 2000, 3 p.m.
The meeting was called to order at 3 p.m.
Agenda item 42
Special session of the General Assembly in 2001 for follow-up to the World Summit for Children
Report of the Preparatory Committee
(A/55/43 (Parts I and II))
Report of the Secretary-General
(spoke in Arabic)
The protection of children who are suffering as a result of armed conflict in different parts of the world is a noble goal; international efforts must be made to stop children from being recruited and exploited in armed conflict. I feel I must stress here what is being done to protect children as a whole and Arab children in particular. My Government calls for granting Arab children the right to life, safety, education and development in the occupied Arab territories.
In order to achieve this we need to put an end to the military operations that are being conducted against civilians and children in Palestine. Children there are falling under the hail of bullets of the occupying forces, in a situation that lacks any moral constraints and where everything is being done to prevent the people of Palestine from living in dignity and peace the way people of other nations do. We all saw the pictures of the brutal killing of the boy Mohamed al-Darra, who was shot down by the bullets of the Israeli forces. This kind of thing is continuing as we sit here talking.
(Israel): It is an honour to speak today on behalf of the Israeli delegation on this important agenda item. The survival, protection and development of the children of the world is an issue of great significance and one which has concerned the General Assembly and other United Nations organs for many years.
The adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 20 November 1989 was a milestone in the crusade for children’s rights, creating a viable legal and ethical mechanism with which to promote and protect the rights of children. Since then, various resolutions and declarations have been issued which have augmented that Convention. Indeed, today, as we consider the resolution on the special session of the General Assembly for follow-up to the World Summit for Children, we rededicate ourselves to the further development of this issue and the continued pursuit of our goal to protect the children of the world.
In her speech last year before the General Assembly marking the tenth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Executive Director Carol Bellamy of the United Nations Children’s Fund cited well-known and immensely disturbing statistics that gravely illustrate the plight of children in less developed areas of the world. Despite the unprecedented wealth of our globe, nearly 32,000 children under the age of five die each day of preventable causes, totalling nearly 12 million deaths each year. These are numbers that should mobilize every Member State in an age in which we possess unparalleled ability to prevent disease, malnutrition, poverty, illiteracy, violence and exploitation.
Today, this Assembly is renewing its commitment to consider and pursue future action on behalf of children in the coming decade. Israel wholeheartedly supports this action and welcomes the initiatives of various United Nations bodies, especially the United Nations Children’s Fund, to review progress achieved since the World Summit for Children and to encourage appropriate actions in preparation for the special session of the General Assembly.
In this regard, I would like to comment on various developments that have taken place in Israel in recent years affecting the rights of the child:
In a landmark decision of October 1999, the Supreme Court of Israel, setting a precedent both nationally and internationally, imposed tort damages on a parent who neglected the children in his care by completely estranging himself from them and inflicting severe emotional damage. Although the circumstances were extreme, this decision is indicative of the special sensitivity accorded to children’s rights in my country.
In another landmark ruling in January of this year, the Israeli Supreme Court condemned, in absolute terms, the resort to the corporal punishment of children as a method of discipline and child raising. This ruling is indicative of the growing awareness in Israel of the appalling phenomena of child abuse and violence. It further serves as a warning that such patterns of misconduct are not only immoral and repugnant, but are also unlawful in our society. It sends a clear message that the use of force against children is a gross degradation of their human dignity and is an infringement on the child’s physical integrity and mental health.
This ruling marks a milestone in Israel’s long-standing campaign against domestic violence in general and child abuse in particular. It follows an earlier ruling of the Supreme Court that prohibited the use of physical punishment by teachers and other caregivers. Following Israel’s accession to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, the adoption of the Israeli Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty ensured that the rights of the child are endowed with constitutional protection. There has been a significant and steady rise in the number of domestic judicial decisions grounded on the rationale underlying the Convention on the Rights of the Child, voicing and echoing children’s perspectives and their right to human dignity, advancing their rights and setting harsher penalties for unlawful treatment of children. In this respect it should be noted that, even prior to the Court’s recent ruling, our penal law imposed criminal liability on parents who assault their children.
In addition to these specific changes, comprehensive reform is underway in Israel in the realm of children’s rights. In 1997 a special committee was appointed to review existing legislation in this field in light of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in order to recommend appropriate revisions. In addition, a recent bill passed by the Israeli Parliament establishes commissions on the status of the child in every municipality, with child representatives sitting on their boards. In addition, we are now in the process of planning educational campaigns in the media and in schools to increase sensitivity to children’s rights and to raise public awareness.
Yet despite all this, great hurdles lay ahead, both in Israel and in the world at large. Anachronistic social and traditional norms are still evident in many societies, and the practice of beating children remains widespread. We believe that the way in which a society treats children and other vulnerable groups is, to a great extent, a mirror of its values. Let us endeavour then to build on the progress of the last decade and to take steps that will ensure that the values of the international community are consistent with our objectives on behalf of children. These efforts must continue without respite until that day when every single child is guaranteed the chance to grow in good health, with adequate nutrition and education, and in an environment of peace and security.
Mr. Nejad Hosseinian
(Islamic Republic of Iran): ...
While discussing the key issues of the special session, I am duty-bound to highlight the situation of Palestinian children in the occupied territories. Today all mankind is witnessing the struggle of the Palestinian people, especially the children, to liberate their land from the occupying force. Every day we see on the television screens images of horrendous atrocities. Palestinian children are being shot to death from the air and with automatic machine guns and tanks. They only seem, at most, to be throwing rocks at those who have occupied their land and homes and have oppressed and savagely humiliated them for decades. The children of Palestine have not only been robbed of their childhood, but they have also been victimized in the most violent manner by the occupying force, in total violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
We cannot and shall not remain indifferent to this inhumane travesty of justice. Whether or not we rise to this challenge, Palestinian children will emerge victorious. But, as members of the international community, we should seriously reconsider the limit of our capacity to accept the price in lives, blood and misery that Palestinian children must pay for the victory which they deserve.
The meeting rose at 7.05 p.m.