-- Check against delivery --
Thank you Mr, President,
As you can see I am in good company today.
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States and three European children.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, and Georgia, align themselves with this statement, as well as the Principality of Monaco, the principality of Andorra and the Republic of San Marino.
2019 is a defining year as we commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the most widely ratified human rights treaty with 196 State parties. It is a moment to celebrate the achievements of the international instrument that explicitly recognises every child as a rights holder. Today’s children have a better chance to survive, to develop their full potential, to be protected from violence and exploitation, and to express their views. What better way to show the benefits of multilateralism than by improving millions of children’s lives in the world.
We therefore welcome the high level meeting convened by his Excellency the President of the General Assembly at the World Children Day bringing together all relevant actors and particularly children to reflect and renew at global and national level the commitments to the Convention: that the rights of children are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, and that every single child should grow up in a safe and nurturing environment, free from violence and discrimination.
The EU reaffirms that the CRC and its Optional Protocols constitute the primary international standards in the promotion and protection of the rights of the child. Being guided by its principles, the EU implements the Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child. It is in this direction that the EU cooperates with the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries to table two resolutions on the rights of the child: one during the March session of the UN Human Rights Council and during the UNGA Third Committee.
We welcome the consensual adoption of the Third Committee resolution on Monday. The theme of this year's resolution "children without parental care" could not be more timely, as 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care for Children. The adopted resolution provides a set of key recommendations to prevent unnecessary separation of children from their families as well as urging States to ensure the enjoyment of human rights for all children without parental care through concrete actions, always stressing the best interests of the child as a primary consideration.
For the EU, the protection of the rights of the child is a core commitment both in our internal and external policy. In line with the key principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the EU and its Member States are committed to ensure that all children are reached by their policies and actions and special attention is given to those who are in disadvantaged, vulnerable and marginalised situations.
Indeed, armed conflicts, poverty, natural and man-made disasters or displacement, take their hardest toll on children. We are engaged in the prevention and response to violence, including sexual violence and abuse, prevention of the recruitment and use of children, comprehensive reintegration of children associated with armed forces and groups. The Council Conclusions of October 2019, on combatting the sexual abuse of children, call for measures to improve prevention and protection of victims and to investigate these crimes effectively. In 2019, nearly EUR 64 million of its humanitarian aid budget was allocated to child protection activities. And the renowned EU-UN Spotlight Initiative is another example of how we try to eliminate violence against women and girls in South East Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Yet, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the RoC Convention, we also need to reflect on the challenges. Global trends are impacting children´s enjoyment of their rights such as: digital technologies (from artificial intelligence to social media); climate change; unhealthy environment; migration; new nature of armed conflicts; and children’s aspiration to participate in decision making processes that affect them. While new technologies provide opportunities to advance children's welfare, they also pose risks; girls continue to face discrimination; millions of children go to work every day instead of going to school; too many children are deprived of parental care. These are the real challenges.
We have no time to lose but to join our forces for the new frontier challenges in the upcoming 30 years: in bilateral and multilateral fora, regional organisations, civil society, governments. But mostly we need to create more space for children and young people leadership to participate and to demonstrate how their involvement on matters that concern them contributes to the realisation of their rights.
Investing in children throughout their journey to adulthood is a moral duty and an essential investment in a better future for all of us. For the children of today, and for the children of tomorrow, our common engagement will endure.
* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.