The United Nations Convenes Special Session to Discuss A World Fit for Children

On December 11−13, 2007, the United Nations (U.N.) convened a special plenary session of the General Assembly (G.A.) called “A World Fit for Children Plus 5” to discuss the progress achieved since the 2002 declaration, A World Fit for Children (WFFC).  WFFC is one part of the U.N.’s eight Millennium Development Goals, which set specific targets to improve the health and well-being of people around the world by 2015.  The Plan of Action in WFFC outlined goals for improving children’s human rights globally within a ten-year time period.  The declaration covered a broad range of protections and rights from increasing access to basic services like education and nutrition to developing access to reproductive health information and working to eradicate diseases like sexually transmitted diseases.1

Attendees of A World Fit for Children Plus 5 reviewed the report Children and the Millennium Development Goals: Progress Made towards A World Fit for Children drafted by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).  The report cited that some of the most significant accomplishments to date are the increases in equal access to basic education for girls and boys, prevention and eradication of certain diseases like polio and the measles, and willingness of nations to stop exploitation of children.  Conversely, the report also noted that significant shortcomings persist, such as half a million women dying during pregnancy and childbirth as well as the continued threat of HIV/AIDS.2  Globally 2.3 million children under 15 are living with HIV, and those with parents who are affected by HIV/AIDS are also often forced to take on additional household responsibilities.3

At the conclusion of the special session, the member states issued a new declaration reaffirming their original commitments to the goals in the WFFCdeclaration and adding several additional considerations. New considerations included a commitment to increasing international cooperation, building partnerships with the private sector, and fostering increased participation by young people in policymaking decisions.4

The lack of substantive additions in the new declaration, particularly related to the rights of girls and sexual and reproductive health, frustrated advocacy groups following the proceedings.  The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) coordinated the project Advocacy in Practice, which gave young women from diverse regions of the globe the opportunity to read through the UNICEF report and draft their own recommendations.  The project also assisted them in forming and carrying out their own advocacy strategies.  While some representatives of member states were open to hearing the recommendations of these young advocates and wished to include some of their language in the 2007 declaration, several member states were disinterested in opening up the discussion to potentially controversial topics.5

References

  1. United Nations General Assembly A/RES/S-27/2 (2002), 4-20.
  2. United Nations Children’s Fund Children and the Millennium Development Goals: Progress Made towards A World Fit for Children (New York, 2007), 82-85.
  3. Ibid, p.77.
  4. United Nations Children’s Fund, “UN General Assembly Plenary Closes with Renewed Commitment to Children,” Press Release published 13 December 2007, accessed 24 January 2008 <http://www.unicef.org/worldfitforchildren/index_42198.html>.
  5. CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights No 1 (57) 2008 ASTRA, accessed 11 January 2008, <http://www.astra.org.pl/57_issue.htm>.

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