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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

Philippine Statement
By

Hon. LOURDES G. BALANON
Undersecretary of the Department of Social Services and Development
Republic of the Philippines

on
Agenda Item 101: Promotion and protection of the rights of children

59th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
21 October 2004, New York

Mr. Chairman,

Allow me to congratulate you and the members of the bureau for the excellent manner in which you have guided the Committee’s discussions on previous issues. My delegation remains confident of the successful conduct of the rest of the agenda items yet to be tackled under your leadership.

The Philippines associates itself with the statement made by Malaysia on behalf of ASEAN.

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation is heartened by the fact that, as highlighted by the Secretary-General in several reports, there has been an increasing approach by countries to achieve the goals and commitments contained in the outcome document, “A world fit for children”, in the context of the Millennium Development Goals. This is not surprising given that seven of the MDGs directly affect the lives of children.

For its part, the Philippines continues to implement its Strategic Framework Plan for the Development of Children, more commonly known as the CHILD 21 Plan, in the context of the national development program. CHILD 21 aims to safeguard and promote the rights of Filipino children through focused interventions at the various critical stages of a child’s development. CHILD 21 presents a shared vision for the Filipino child, crafted from the inputs of all stakeholders in the development planning process. As an important strategic feature, CHILD 21 embodies the priority goals and strategies for both national and local levels of government that are carried out in collaboration with NGOs and private entities. To ensure the effective implementation and synchronization of these efforts, initiatives such as the annual Search for Child-Friendly Municipalities and Cities have been established in order to build a broad-based consciousness and an environment that is conducive to children’s survival, development, protection and participation.

Mr. Chairman,

One of the major challenges to our work of ensuring a world fit for children is addressing the situation of children in especially difficult conditions. While norms for our work on child survival – health, nutrition, water, sanitation and shelter—are clear, the guidelines and coordination to ensure child protection, including issues of exploitation, sexual violence, family separation and children affected by armed conflict—remain underdeveloped. Although intended to cover mainly the situation of children in armed conflict, the report of the Secretary-General on the assessment of the UN response to this group of children, highlights the fact that there exists a gap in the overall child protection regime within the UN system. This gap relating to protection efforts will need to be addressed if we are serious about achieving the MDGs for children.

Cognizant of this gap, the Philippines has established task forces to address these specific protection issues. For example, we have set up a Task Force on Children in Need of Special Protection to address, among others, the elimination of the worst forms of child labor. We have also established a Sub-Task Force on Sexual Abuse and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, composed jointly of government and non-government agencies to provide technical guidance on the implementation of a framework of action against commercial sexual exploitation of children. Still another example is the institution of a committee for the special protection of children from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation and discrimination and other conditions prejudicial to their development, by virtue of Executive Order No. 275.

Mr. Chairman,

The gruesome situation of children in different areas of armed conflict around the world requires the most immediate attention. Children deprived of peace face a more elusive chance of development. In this regard, my delegation would like to note the report of the Secretary General on his assessment of the UN system’s response to children affected by armed conflict, submitted pursuant to the Assembly’s resolution 57/190 on the rights of the child. We appreciate, in particular, the frank and comprehensive manner in which the assessment was made and hope that the political commitment can indeed be deepened and broadened in order to lend the necessary attention and support to the UN’s work of protecting children in precarious conditions.

My delegation emphasizes that the “era of application” of standards and norms to protect children in armed conflict, which we support, must be underpinned by a fundamental constructive approach of enabling member States themselves to effectively address the situation of children in their areas. Indeed, the various bodies of the UN system have a role to making the safety, welfare and development of children a reality, but their work should be geared towards a paradigm of cooperation with governments wherein existing national policies and action plans can be supported, complemented and improved. Because not all conflict situations are the same, the strategies to protect children in these situations may be different from case to case. In this regard, as a general constructive approach, UN agencies and bodies with a relevant mandate on the issue will need to work closely with governments in order to determine the best and most effective strategies for ensuring results for children on the ground. We look forward to this constructive cooperation being observed in priority conflict areas, particularly where conflict is protracted.

Mr. Chairman,

Our children deserve to be in a world that is fit for them to live and grow up to be the best persons they can be. The ways to ensure this vision demand the responsibility of all actors and the deep commitment of all stakeholders. We must hasten this global momentum to improve the lives of children, knowing that, and here I quote the special session document, “in giving high priority to the rights of children, to their survival and to their protection and development, we serve the best interests of humanity…”.

Thank you.









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