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Agenda item 105: Promotion and protection of the rights of children*
*Items which the Committee has decided to consider together.*
The meeting was called to order at 3.05 p.m.
Agenda item 43: Follow-up to the outcome of the special session on children (A/57/350)
Agenda item 105: Promotion and protection of the rights of children (A/57/41 and Corr.1, A/57/295 and A/57/402)
25. Ms. Al Haj Ali (Syrian Arab Republic) noted that the Special Representative’s report (A/57/402 and Corr.1), as in previous years, had not mentioned the situation of children living under foreign occupation, although that situation had been considered in the Declaration of the special session on children. There appeared to be a trend to ignore the situation of children living under foreign occupation and, to date, there had never been an acceptable response. Ignoring the situation would only perpetuate problems in that regard. Her delegation hoped that future reports would cover the situation.
28. Mr. Otunnu (Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict), ...
29. Addressing the comments made by the representative of the Syrian Arab Republic, he said that he was extremely concerned about the situation of children in the Palestinian occupied territories, and although he had not dwelt on the issue during the current session of the General Assembly, it had been one of the key themes of his statement to the Commission on Human Rights in April 2002. Owing to circumstances beyond his control, he had been unable to make on-site visits in the past twelve months but hoped to be able to do so in the near future. He expressed his wish to do more to address the issue.
32. Mr. Gautam (Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF) ...
33. In response to the remarks made by the representative of the Syrian Arab Republic concerning the tendency to ignore the plight of children in the occupied territories, he recalled that the Secretary-General and representatives of UNICEF had recently spoken on that subject and assured the Committee that the situation of children in Palestine was constantly under review.
43. Ms. Barghouti (Observer for Palestine) thanked the Special Representative for his concern about the situation of Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation. Her delegation was looking forward to collaborating with his Office to work out ways of assisting those children and hoped that he would be able to visit the area as soon as possible.
44. She emphasized the gravity of the situation in Palestine — one third of those killed and wounded during the conflict had been children — and urged the international community to act rapidly to prevent further loss of life.
47. Mr. Gautam (Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF), ...
50. He reassured the Committee that the United Nations system was fully aware of the situation of children in the Palestinian occupied territories and was doing all it could to ensure the provision of basic services and alleviate the impact of armed conflict.
51. Mr. Otunnu (Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict), ...
53. He took note of the comments made by the representative of Palestine and agreed that the situation in the occupied territories was very grave. He would strive to do more to respond to it.
54. Mr. Koren (Israel), in response to the remarks made by the representatives of the Syrian Arab Republic and Palestine, said that attacking children simply because they were children, regardless of their religion or nationality, was a sad practice. However, the fact remained that Palestine had initiated the violence and his delegation rejected all attempts to cast the perpetrators of terror as its victims. He called for an investigation into the increasing use of minors as suicide bombers and encouraged UNICEF to work in Palestinian territory to promote education for peace and tolerance.
59. Mr. Gautam (Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF) said, in response to Israel, that education for peace and tolerance was very much part of the UNICEF agenda. In fact, paragraph 47 of the Declaration of the special session reflected that emphasis. Programmes for Palestinian children focused on play and learning non-violence. Human rights education, as mentioned by the representative of Suriname, was also important, as human rights began with children’s rights. He was also grateful to the President of Senegal for his initiative to follow up the special session at the regional level. UNICEF would be an active participant at the forthcoming regional conference.
86. Mr. Mamdouhi (Islamic Republic of Iran) ...
87. Given the changes in the nature, scope and causes of the problems affecting children, the international community must update its strategies and goals to meet current challenges. All stakeholders must also reaffirm their joint commitment to improving the situation of all children, including the most disadvantaged. Children used as civilian targets in armed conflicts — especially in territories under foreign occupation — should be given priority. He wished to highlight in that regard the situation of Palestinian children, who were daily exposed to atrocities, such as being shot to death for throwing stones at occupying troops. The international community must not remain indifferent, but rather must bring to justice all those who committed war crimes, particularly against children.
94. Ms. Al-Malki (Qatar) ...
100. Palestinian children were suffering daily under Israeli oppression, and their rights were violated. Her delegation urged that violence against those children should stop, and that their right to live in dignity, security and peace be respected. Iraqi children were also suffering under the economic sanctions, and many had died, with the result that Iraq had one of the highest child mortality rates in the world. Iraqi children should be immune from the effects of the sanctions.
The meeting rose at 6.10 p.m.
This record is subject to correction. Corrections should be sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned within one week of the date of publication to the Chief of the Official Records Editing Section, room DC2-750, 2 United Nations Plaza, and incorporated in a copy of the record.
Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each Committee.