Children Why Children ?
In June 2001, in anticipation of the original meeting date, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a progress report detailing what had been done toward the goals set in 1990 and what had been left undone. Entitled “We the Children,” the report contains information from 135 national-level reviews, comprising the most comprehensive picture ever assembled of the global child. It has since been updated to reflect even more recent data.
“The world has fallen short of achieving most of the goals of the World Summit for Children,” wrote the Secretary-General, “not because they were too ambitious or were technically beyond reach. It has fallen short largely because of insufficient investment.”
The issue of how and why to invest in children has taken on greater significance since last September. Among the many measures needed to improve global stability and security, a consensus has grown that any such efforts must begin with building a world fit for children.
“I cannot imagine a truly better world that does not have at its foundation civilized treatment for up and coming generations,” said Dr. Khalid Aftab Sulehri, President- (IHRO). “Quality basic education for all children, decent health care opportunities for positive participation in society, and protection from exploitation – these are basics that in too many places, for too many children, remain distant dreams.”
“When nations have committed themselves to real investment in children, and made those investments in ways that promote the rights of children, real progress in human development has been achieved,” “Where children’s rights have been given only lip service and investments have been minimal, societies continue to struggle.”
Challenges Facing Children Today
There are 2.1 billion children in the world, accounting for 36% of the world’s population. Some 132 million children are born each year. Globally, 1 in 4 children lives in abject poverty – in families with income lower than $1 a day. One of every 12 children dies before the age of five, mainly from preventable causes.
According to statistics assembled for report, “We the Children,” of every 100 children born today:
The births of 40 will not be registered at all.
26 will not be immunized against any disease.
19 will have no access to clean drinking water.
30 will suffer from malnutrition in the first five years of life.
17 will never go to school. Of these, 9 will be girls.
And of every 100 who begin 1st grade, only 25 will reach the 5th grade.
“We have the resources and the knowledge to overcome these challenges,” “Our aim at the Special Session is to convince world leaders that investing in children is their number one responsibility – and that investing in children is the only lasting strategy for reducing poverty, stopping AIDS, and avoiding conflict.”
That the Special Session on Children falls between two major gatherings on global development – the International Conference
on Financing for Development, and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa later this summer. The investment in children would be high on the agenda of both, “and appropriately so.”
“We must never forget that we are our own keepers,” “History will judge us harshly if we refuse to use our knowledge, our resources and our will to ensure that each new member of the human family arrives into a world that honors and protects the invaluable, irreplaceable years of childhood.”
A series of summary fact sheets are now available, including “Short Takes on Progress “and” Who Is the Global Child.”
What’s Ahead: Over the next eight years, the IHRO Special Session media team will be issuing weekly press updates on the summit, including listings of who’s coming, what the key issues will be, and what else is happening around the Special Session on Children