(New York, October 14, 2009)
Statement by Ambassador Claudia Blum, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations, Item 65: Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children
My delegation associates itself with the statement delivered by Mexico on behalf of the Rio Group, and supports the declarations expressed on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In recent years, Colombia has experienced internal changes that have had positive impacts on human development and the welfare of children. The implementation of national policies for democratic security, social protection and equity, poverty reduction, economic growth and sustainable development, as well as the massive demobilization of illegal armed groups that were factors of violence, have allowed to progressively recover a more secure and stable environment that favors the welfare and enjoyment of the rights of children.
Additionally, specific actions have been implemented in such areas as: reform in the legal framework related to the rights of children in order to align it with international standards; formulation and implementation of public policies on childhood issues, to be implemented in the framework of development plans at the national, departmental and municipal levels; strengthening capacities of national institutions and local authorities, as well as civil society participation, in the design, implementation and monitoring of these policies; and the progressive allocation of budget resources to support actions.
I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the emphasis that the State has assigned to the Educational Revolution strategy as a key element of our social policy. The realization of the right to education is an essential prerequisite for eradicating poverty, consolidating social equity and promoting sustainable development.
In basic education, national coverage rate, which was 78% in 2002, has reached 100%. In high school, coverage increased from 57 to 78%. In 2009, five and a half million children belonging to the most vulnerable sectors have access to completely free education. We promote access to information technologies and hope that, in 2010, 76% of students in public schools will have connectivity services. In higher education, we went from less than one million to nearly 1.7 million students.
Currently, the Government attaches high priority to education strategies contained in the Colombia for Early Childhood policy. Extending coverage of this education is essential, because this is one of the most critical stages in personal development. Last April, a new program was launched with the goal of broadening access to education for children under the age of 6 years, in the poorest sectors. The program should benefit 300 thousand children in 2009 and reach 400 thousand in 2010.
The food and nutritional security policy benefits 2.5 million children in the Children's Breakfast program and the Community Homes program, as well as 3.9 million students in the School Canteens program. The new goal is to decisively strengthen the nutritional support in early childhood.
The conditional cash transfers program Families in Action, has been vital to maintaining the continuity of children in the educational system and providing nutritional support. Regarding health services, the country is progressing towards universal insurance coverage, a goal to be achieved in 2010.
Elimination of violence against children, in all its manifestations, is a goal that must receive priority attention by States. My delegation recognizes positively the appointment of the Special Representative on Violence against Children, and hopes that relevant agencies of the United Nations will provide cooperation, including financial, for the carrying out of her mandate.
Colombia has strengthened legal frameworks to prevent, combat, prosecute and punish all forms of violence against children. Including measures to eliminate domestic violence, violence at the community level, and violence caused by terrorist groups that still exist, as well as to provide assistance to, and restore the rights of victims.
Colombia, on the other hand, has accepted on a voluntary basis the implementation of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism referred to in Security Council resolution 1612. We are convinced that this mechanism provides, within a cooperative and constructive framework, an opportunity to strengthen the capacities of national institutions that work in the pursuit of ensuring the rights of children affected by violence.
As a State Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols, my delegation welcomes the report on the status of the Convention and the specific analysis on international progress made in the eradication of child labor.
We also take note of the report of the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict. We recognize the important analysis of violent phenomena affecting children that is contained therein. However, it is clear that the pertinence of some issues and recommendations included in this report deserve further discussion vis-à-vis the cooperation frameworks governing the United Nations work and the definitions of international law applicable in armed conflict.
Regarding the report on the implementation of the Plan of Action "A World Fit for Children", we note with concern the impact of the financial and economic crisis on the situation of children in different regions. We reaffirm, in this sense, the need for States to make every effort to maintain and strengthen social protection programs, in particular programs for children.
The United Nations should promote effective commitments for international cooperation in this area, in order to support States in meeting the goals for children set out by this Assembly. Colombia will support all initiatives aimed at achieving this purpose.
I thank you Mr. Chairman.