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Source:
14 October 2005
General Assembly
GA/SHC/3822

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixtieth General Assembly
Third Committee
15th Meeting (AM)

EFFECTS OF POVERTY, CONFLICT, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AMONG MAIN TOPICS OF DISCUSSION,
AS THIRD COMMITTEE TAKES UP CHILDREN’S RIGHTS ISSUES

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Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to begin its general discussion of promotion and protection of the rights of children.

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Also before it was a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the independent expert for the United Nations study on violence against children (document A/60/282), which summarizes the findings of expert Paulo Sergio Pinheiro on the situation of violence against children and steps to end and prevent such violence.

In the report, the independent expert identifies key focus areas for the coming year -- based on regional, subregional and national consultations, expert meetings, field visits and analysis of the work of human rights mechanisms such as the Committee on the Rights of the Child.  Those areas include the continued legality and prevalence of corporal punishment against children in the home, schools, alternative care, institutions and the juvenile justice system; the vulnerability of children in conflict with the law and vulnerability of street children to violence; and the pervasiveness of harmful traditional practices.  Further, he identifies community attitudes to violence, discrimination, poverty, the unequal status of women and girls, lack of access to quality education and denial of human rights as underlying conditions that exacerbate children’s vulnerability to violence.

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Statement by Independent Expert

PAULO SÉRGIO PINHEIRO, the Independent Expert directing the Secretary-General’s in-depth study on violence against children, said such violence could never be justified, whether on the basis of discipline or the guise of tradition.  Children were different from adults, but that difference called for more, not less, protection in laws, policies and programmes, as well as significant investment in protecting them from of violence.  The objective of the study must be to ensure that children enjoyed the same protection as adults.  It would challenge social norms that condoned any form of violence against children, and would also challenge social norms that justified violent practices under the guise of tradition.

He was particularly encouraged that more than 120 Governments had provided comprehensive and thoughtful responses to the questionnaire outlining laws, policies and programmes in place to address violence against children.  Similarly, the many submissions he had received from non-governmental organizations, other parts of civil society and individuals had convinced him that the study process had placed violence against children firmly on the international agenda.  Subregional and national consultations, a number of which had been convened since he had submitted his report, had also allowed for information-sharing and the building of partnerships, and had contributed to lifting the veil of silence surrounding violence against children.

He had been struck by the fact that violence against children in all settings and contexts was very prevalent and knew no boundaries of geography, class, politics, race or culture.  Also, children and adults were not accorded equal protection from assault and humiliation, and ensuring safety for children was a low priority for many States, despite the fact that they had accepted international treaties that required them to guarantee their safety.  Legal provisions in some countries tolerated some forms of violence against children, while those forms might be condoned by parents and communities that did not grasp their negative effects on children, family life and community well-being, as well as their implications for national development in the cultural, economic, political and social spheres.  Throughout his activities, he had become aware that some forms of violence against children were hidden and invisible, and that there were no systems to monitor response mechanisms.

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Statements

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HESHAM AFIFI ( Egypt) said the interest in the child in terms of physical and intellectual development was important for the socio-economic development of all countries.  Attention to children and their development was an investment in the future, especially because children represented one third of the world’s population.  It was necessary to work in a determined way in order to support the global alliance and promote the rights of the child and cooperation between Government and civil society.  It was also important to step up efforts and mobilize the necessary resources, and to show political determination in that area.  He stressed the difficult situations experienced by Palestinian children, and called on the international community to help them enjoy their rights and live free of oppression and suffering in families that were not continually threatened with losing their houses, work or freedom.

Egypt had worked hard at the international and national levels in the area of children’s rights.  At the international level, it had been one of the first States to sign and ratify the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols.  It also took an active part in efforts to develop strategies to prevent all forms of violence against children, and had hosted a regional conference on the subject.  His Government was particularly interested in the report submitted by Mr. Pinheiro, and believed that it was an important study.  At the national level, there was a law on children that had been adopted in 1996, and a national council for motherhood had been set up in 2000.  The Government had also adopted measures for the most vulnerable sectors, such as street children, and had sought to put an end to female excision.  It had implemented projects and programmes in order to meet the basic needs of children in health and education.  Despite important achievements in strengthening the rights of children, his Government agreed on the need to give particular attention to children in armed conflict.  It would have liked to see more attention given in the corresponding report to occupied territories, particularly the Palestinian Occupied Territories.

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