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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations
H.E.Bayani S. Mercado
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations
during the Third Committe Debate on
at 60th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Allow me to extend my congratulations to you and your bureau for the excellent guidance you have provided the Committee in its work so far. My delegation remains confident that under your leadership we shall conduct successful discussions not only of the agenda item at hand but also of those yet to be addressed.
My delegation associates itself with the statement to be made later by Malaysia on behalf of the ASEAN.
My delegation is encouraged by the Secretary-General’s report on the follow-up to the Special Session for Children that there is growing momentum among countries towards the goals and commitments made at that session, particularly those contained in the outcome document, “A World Fit for Children”. Of note is the progress in the development and implementation of national action plans for children.
The Philippines remains fully committed to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the outcome of the special session and to other international instruments aimed at promoting and protecting the rights of children.
The Philippines’ National Strategic Framework Plan for the Development for Children, also known as the Child 21 Plan, is now in its fifth year. One of the flagship initiatives under this plan is the Bright Child strategy which emphasizes a holistic and integrated delivery of services on health and nutrition, education, psychosocial care and social protection for children, and on maternal care. This month, which the Philippines observes as National Children’s Month, the government embarks on a nationwide campaign focusing on increasing awareness and strategies to build capacities on target issues such as violence against children, nutrition, juvenile justice, empowerment of children as participants in development and effective parenting.
The wealth that is our children is in great need of protection and nurturing. Even as more countries develop and implement their action plans, millions of children are subjected to violence, abuse, and exploitation. The report of the independent expert on violence against children, submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 59/261, underlines weaknesses in national and international systems, across several sectors that lead to such widespread occurrences.
The Declaration and Plan of Action that the Assembly adopted in 2002 puts particular focus on promoting healthy lives; providing quality education; combating the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS); and protecting children against abuse, exploitation and violence.
We note that clear standards and measurable indicators have been set for the first three items. However, if we, as an international community, are serious about child protection and survival, efforts must be made to develop clearer norms, concrete goals and greater cooperation that also address situations that endanger children such as armed-conflict, trafficking, domestic violence, unsafe work conditions and conflict with the law.
One of the challenges in our work to protect children lies in the area of juvenile justice. Children in detention are vulnerable to violence, cruel or degrading treatment, and detention conditions unfit for children.
My delegation notes the frank assessment of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the independent expert’s report on violence against children. This issue must be addressed in both law and practice. Law enforcement officials must be educated on and compelled to observe national and international norms in the treatment of children. These norms should be strengthened by national laws that ensure law enforcement methods, detention conditions, and judicial processes tailored to protect the rights of children in conflict with the law.
In the Philippines, children in conflict with the law are classified among those groups of children in need of special protection. Currently under consideration before our legislature is the Comprehensive Juvenile Justice Bill. This bill creates a monitoring office on Juvenile Justice under the Department of Justice, raises the age of criminal liability, introduces a diversion program at the community level, and reiterates the construction of separate detention centers for minors.
The Philippine Council for the Welfare of Children has established a closer working relationship with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, including jail visits. In preparation for Prison/Corrections Awareness Week, which will be marked on the third week of October, the two agencies have cooperated to focus attention on the situation of children in detention. My government is also stepping up efforts to ensure that children in conflict with the law are given proper care and protection under the national social welfare and development agency.
Countries whose justice-administration systems lack adequate protection policies and mechanisms to protect the rights of children would do well to accurately assess the extent of the situation including through the collection and analysis of statistical data and documentation so that prevailing and imminent problems in ensuring the rights of children can be promptly addressed. This would also assist in improving action agendas to address the various components of the problem.
This approach would be well applied not only to situations of children in conflict with the law but also to other instances that heighten the vulnerability of children to violence, abuse, and exploitation.
Armed with a comprehensive understanding of the actions that need to be taken, we would be better equipped to protect our children.
It is unfortunate that statistics, action plans and good intentions are not enough to build the “world fit for children” for which we strive. This lofty goal demands much commitment and extensive resources… resources that many countries, individually, do not have but can be marshaled by us as a global community.
According to the Secretary-General’s report, two
of the main obstacles on the road toward this world are budgetary constraints
and institutional capacity. These are the reasons why health care systems
are inadequate, why areas lack schools, and why adequate care and detention
institutions are not built. Both these obstacles can be hurdled by enhancing
international cooperation. While donor assistance remains necessary,
other methods can be found to finance necessary programs.
The Secretary-General’s report notes that child protection targets are lacking in the Millennium Development Goals, despite the acceptance that the two are mutually enhancing. This absence makes it difficult to ensure that child-focused programs are included in macro-level plans, such as poverty reduction strategies. If international institutions, including financing institutions, are truly committed to child protection, they should guide and encourage countries to include such in their national development agendas.
While it is necessary to incorporate a child-focus into broader country plans, efforts to address the larger issues of peace, stability, and social and economic development will contribute much to improve the environment in which our children live. The welfare of our children is inexorably linked to conditions within our countries. Poverty, disease, armed conflict and political instability lead to situations where children are not cared for by their families, where children have to work, are tempted to commit crimes, live in inhumane conditions, and are deprived of basic services.
Lastly, we have all committed ourselves to change the world and thus make it fit for children. Many of us have mapped the courses of action that we will take; some of us are still at this initial step. Let us accelerate our progress towards our shared goal and consolidate our resources so that our most precious wealth, our deepest strength – our children – can grow and prosper… to their fullest potential and for the benefit of us all.
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