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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


Fifty-seventh General Assembly
Third Committee
18th & 19th Meetings (AM & PM)
GA/SHC/3700
14 October 2002


DELEGATIONS IN THIRD COMMITTEE STRESS NEED TO IMPLEMENT PROMISES
TO CREATE ‘WORLD FIT FOR CHILDREN’



As the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) continued its annual debate of issues related to the protection and promotion of the rights of children, many delegations stressed the need to make good on almost 20 years of promises -- beginning with the near-unanimous ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and culminating with the outcome of the General Assembly special session -- to create a "world fit for children".

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Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to continue consideration of matters related to the promotion and protection of the rights of children, as well as follow-up to the General Assembly special session on children, held last May.

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SAMI ZEIDAN (Lebanon) said Lebanon was party to the core international instruments aimed at protecting and promoting the rights of children, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Labour Organization’s Convention 182, on prohibition of the worst forms of child labour.  Lebanon was committed to child rights and was taking every effort to disseminate and create awareness of the Convention, and integrate its principles into school curricula.  Lebanon's Higher Council for Childhood had prepared a legal comparative study of legislation and the Convention, which had resulted in proposals for a series of reforms.  His country had also achieved much in the area of child health care, reflected most prominently in the significant decline in infant mortality, improvements in immunization and in increased budgetary allocations for child services.  Also landmines posed a particular problem for the children of his country, and the United Nations had estimated that some 400,000 landmines remained.

Lebanon could not forget 18 April 1996, the day the United Nations compound had been targeted by the Israeli army at a time when civilians had been taking refuge there.  From the smoking rubble, true scenes of horror had emerged:  many women and children were killed, and lay in heaps, decapitated or disemboweled.  He was not invoking the incident to upset stomachs or politicize matters.  It was important to point out how children on both sides of every conflict fell victim to the mindless actions of grownups.  A major case in point was the situation of the children caught in the middle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Children who resorted to stone-throwing represented a hopeless generation that had not only been robbed of its childhood, but had literally no other way to resist the brutal occupying power.  Children did not understand politics but they would grow up and use politics to express their anger toward those that had robbed them of their childhood.  So, whoever inflicted pain on those children had plenty to worry about, because in a cruel world, "what goes around comes around".  Even children understood that.

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Right of Reply

The representative of Israel, exercising his right of reply, said certain delegates had taken the liberty of accusing his country of all the evils inflicted on their children.  To use children to promote political gains was a transgression and violation for which there was no excuse.  The decision to brainwash children, too young to make their own decisions, and use them to explode themselves was a crime. 

He stressed that blame must be placed on those who trained them, used them and sent them on suicide missions.  Organizations such as the Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Fatah must be blamed -- not the “so called” root causes.  Israeli children, with their mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, were targeted each day.  The international community must condemn those abhorrent practices, or the phenomenon would spread across the world.

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For information media - not an official record