Statement delivered by Craig J. Hawke, Permanent Representative of the New Zealand Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, 20 November 2019

Mr President,

Over the last 30 years the Convention on the Rights of the Child has had a profound influence on the way we work with children, and in turn develop our policies and practices – from our work here at the United Nations, to classrooms, and in communities across the globe.

New Zealand joins in celebrating the successes of the past 30 years. We are proud of our achievements, and to have renewed our commitment to the Convention through a voluntary pledge to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

But this anniversary is also an important reminder of what we need to continue to focus on. In global terms, most young New Zealanders are doing well. However, we recognise that too many children, young people and their families are facing adversity, deprivation and stress that reduce their wellbeing and life opportunities.

In August 2019, New Zealand launched its first Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy to tackle these challenges. For the Strategy to be successful we knew it had to reflect what children want. Children, young people and their families were invited to share their ideas, experiences and perspectives about what will help make New Zealand the best place in the world for children and young people. We heard from over 6,000 children and young people and targeted those whose voices are less often heard.

These included children and young people living in poverty, living in state care, with a disability, who identify as LGBTQI+, who are recent migrants, or who have received a mental health diagnosis.

Children and young people told us about happiness, family and friends. That they wanted to be accepted for who they are and who they want to be. That life is really hard for some of them and that mental health is a huge problem. That having money for the basic stuff like food, clothes and a good house to live in is a struggle for too many families.

Their voices helped shape the New Zealand Strategy. They will also remain with us as we take action to implement its goals and as we continue our work to realise the rights in the Convention for all children and young people.

Mr President

As the Convention turns 30, it is clear that our work is not done in this regard. We can and must do more for the generations that follow us.

Happy World Children’s Day to you all.

Thank you Mr. President.