Mr. Jeremiah Manele
Chairman of the Solomon Islands Delegation

At the

United Nations Special Session on Children
May 10, 2002
New York


Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary-General,
Children of the World,
Ladies & Gentlemen,

With the Children's Forum and the many supporting events held during the week, this Special Session of the General Assembly on Children is undoubtedly a historic opportunity for us to strive for a world fit for children. A world that is just and peaceful; a world where extreme poverty is eradicated; one in which child and maternal mortality are reduced; where all children have access to clean water and basic education; and a world that is well-equipped to combat HIV/AIDS, and malaria.

Mr. President,

Solomon Islands, fully concurs with the Secretary General that children's issues are critical because the starting point of international development strategies that emphasize equitable human development is quite naturally the rights and well-being of children. It is children whose individual development and social contributions will shape the world's future, and it is through the advancement of children that the intergenerational cycles of poverty, exclusion, and discrimination can be broken.

Solomon Islands therefore, is committed to the welfare and protection of the rights of children. Our Constitution grants children the same rights and protection as adults and other existing laws are designed to protect children from sexual abuse, child labor, and neglect. Children are also respected and protected within the traditional extended family system. Various Policy frameworks have been developed to support activities targeting children in the country. These include; A Revised National Children's Policy and Plan of Action 1996; National Food and Nutrition Policy 1995; Breast Feeding Policy of 1996; National Women Policy 1998; and a National Youth Policy 2000.

Mr. President,

Our infant mortality rates reflect major improvements during the past decade, dropping from 38 per 1,000 live births in 1986 to 28 per 1,000 in 1999. The major causes of infant mortality are childbirth complications, pneumonia, and malaria. Malaria is also the major cause of death in children under five years. Our immunization program is well established with a coverage rate of more than 80% of children under a year old. Malnutrition in children under five years of age is an increasing concern. Drug and substance use among adolescents is also an emerging issue. With regards to clean water, most urban households have access to chlorinated water supply. However, only 60% of the rural population has access to clean water.

Education is not yet universal or compulsory in the Solomon Islands. The current policy is to provide greater opportunity for access at all levels of education and to increase the provision of education services. Since 1996, early childhood education has been part of the formal education system. The Literacy rate has increased from an estimated 22% in 1994 to 64% in 1999.

Mr. President, despites some progress much more remains to be done. The recent ethnic unrest and its devastating impacts have produced a major set back to all sectoral programs. It has caused population displacement as well as disruption of coordination and administrative systems. School enrolment, which increased progressively, has also declined drastically in areas affected by the crisis.

The government is working diligently to restore law and order and to make Solomon Islands a secure and peaceful place for our children. Economic reconstruction and development is also a key priority as our capacity to deliver better health and education services depends on it. The support of our development partners including UN funds and Programs is also vital. The government welcomes and supports the initiative taken by UNICEF to evaluate its programs in the Solomon Islands. Additional financial resources are required to expand these programs and to supplement and sustain national efforts towards realizing the needs and rights of our children. Above all, we are fully cognizant of the need for good governance and sound polices, and are taking the necessary steps towards this end.

Mr. President,

Our efforts towards creating a world fit for children must be based on universal participation. Every country and entity should be allowed to participate in international organizations that contribute to the realization of children's rights, if we are to create a world fit for all children. In this connection, Solomon Islands strongly supports the request of the Republic of China on Taiwan to participate as an observer in the World Health Assembly (WHA). Participation in the WHA is a matter of fundamental human rights. It is a universal truth that health and humanitarianism have no boundaries, and that disease heeds no borders. Let us not forget the children and youth of Taiwan. They too have rights. The Government, private sector and NGOs in Taiwan have contributed to many humanitarian causes, including children's causes around the world. Let us give them the opportunity to benefit from and contribute to a world fit for all children.

Finally, Mr. President;

Solomon Islands is grateful for the support of her development partners including UN Funds and Programs during the last decade. We also acknowledge the contributions of civil society and NGOs including the Solomon Islands Red Cross for its work with disabled children. My government is committed to reinvigorating these partnerships.

Mr. President; this evening we will adopt a Program of Action for the next decade: "A World Fit for Children." Let us match our words with action by making the necessary investments in children. Let compassion and a true sense of our common humanity be the guiding principles of our endeavors to serve our children and future generations. Solomon Islands joins in the global movement to build a world fit for all children.

I thank you, Mr. President.


The above speech is courtesy of the PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT

Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of Hawai‘i

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