I have the honour to speak on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
It was twenty years ago that the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The strong commitment of the international community for the promotion and protection of children’s rights has since been demonstrated by the Convention’s large number of signatory states.
Canada, Australia and New Zealand once again reaffirm our strong support for the rights of the child. The Convention sets the standard against which all states can be measured and scrutinised. We again reiterate our hope that the goal of universal ratification will soon be achieved, and that States will also give early consideration to signing and ratifying the Convention’s Optional Protocols. Ensuring the implementation of the obligations of States Parties to the Convention is one of the most critical and effective ways to promote and protect the rights of children, and we continue to encourage all states to do so.
In this regard we recognize the work of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and UNICEF in promoting and making real the commitments contained in the Convention. We also note with appreciation the improvements the NGO community is making to children’s lives.
We look forward to participating in December in the first meeting of the Open-ended Working Group to explore the possibility of elaborating an optional protocol to provide a communications procedure complementary to the reporting procedure under the Convention.
We welcome the focus in this year’s omnibus resolution on the right of the child on ‘the right of children to express themselves freely in all matters affecting them’, an issue of great importance to our three countries. But we continue to call for new approaches for dealing with the omnibus resolution in order to ensure an open and inclusive debate.
The protection of children from violence in all settings in society must be kept at the forefront of the national, regional and international agenda on children’s rights. In order to tackle violence against children, tireless efforts are needed through all stages of prevention, early detection and response, and recovery of children from violence. In this regard, we are very pleased to welcome the appointment of Marta Santos Pais of Portugal as the Secretary General’s Special Representative on Violence Against Children. Ms. Santos Pais can draw upon her exceptional experience and skills, and enduring commitment to children’s rights to fulfil her mandate. We look forward to working with her in finding the most effective ways of delivering on the recommendations of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children at the national, regional and global levels.
We were pleased to participate in the Third World Congress Against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents held in Rio de Janeiro in November 2008. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Brazilian government for organizing this important event, as well as to express our appreciation to the co-organizers, UNICEF, ECPAT International and the NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The in-depth discussion by all the actors concerned at the Congress served to bolster our efforts at reinforcing coordination, improving legal frameworks and the application of laws, and tackling new dimensions of the sexual exploitation of children. This will serve to maintain the momentum of the international commitment to shield children from sexual violence and exploitation.
We welcome the initiative to develop expert Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children. We appreciate the efforts of the delegation of Brazil, the group of Friends, UNICEF and NGO partners for their work on the development of these Guidelines which will serve as practical tools for Member States’ voluntary consideration in their efforts to enhance their implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
We commend the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict for her leadership and dedication on this issue. We welcome her latest report which details the important progress that is being made in this area.
The adoption of Resolution 1882 has brought further incremental improvements to the children and armed conflict agenda. We are especially pleased that incidents of rape and sexual violence against children in situations of conflict will now trigger action by the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism and in turn inform the Security Council and its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. Given the on-the-ground reduction of child soldiers as a result of the diligent monitoring and reporting of persistent perpetrators, we strongly believe that a similar exercise for perpetrators of rape and sexual violence will result in a significant reduction of these incidents.
We are also pleased to see the element of accountability brought into the agenda of the Security Council Working Group. Sanctions should be imposed more systematically in order for persistent perpetrators to be held accountable for violations. We welcome the call in Resolution 1882 for stronger cooperation between the Security Council Working Group and the relevant Sanctions Committees.
With the adoption of Resolution 1882, the international community must continue the momentum and keep the children and armed conflict agenda moving forward, including: taking stronger measures to bring persistent perpetrators to account; strengthening the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism with the addition of rape and sexual violence and killing and maiming of children to the agenda; and adding to the agenda the remaining three categories of violations as outlined in Resolution 1612.
In this year marking the important 20th anniversary of the Convention, we wish to reaffirm our commitment to work with other member states and international organisations, as well as non-governmental organisations and civil society, in a global partnership to ensure that children’s rights are respected and that they can reach their full potential.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.