Statement by Slovenia on the Promotion and protection of the rights of children in the Third Committee

Mr. Chairman,

Slovenia aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union yesterday.

The protection and promotion of the rights of the child have been high on Slovenian foreign policy agenda not just in the field of human rights, but also in our endeavors regarding development cooperation and security policy.

Therefore Slovenia has been supporting projects for assistance of children and improvement of their well-being in the past, mainly in the regions of Western Balkans, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa. I am glad that I can inform you about one of our most recent projects, namely the opening of a school in the suburbs of Port-au-Prince in Haiti, which took place earlier this month.

With the 'Slovenia for the Children of Haiti' project and with the establishment of this school, Slovenia is achieving one of its international development cooperation objectives, i.e. providing aid to children as the most vulnerable population group, and contributing to the attainment of the second Millennium Development Goal.

Special attention that Slovenia pays to the issue of children's rights and their protection, as one of the main pillars of our multilateral activities, affirms also this year's Slovenian Presidency of the Executive Board of Unicef. Slovenia pays particular attention to the protection of children from different forms of violence, to children's participation, their education and health.

Mr. Chairman,

The Convention on the Rights of the Child with its two optional protocols presents the foundation for the protection and promotion of the rights of the child. Slovenia is convinced that all three instruments should be universally embraced and therefore supports the campaign for the universal ratification of both optional protocols and appeal to all member states that have not yet ratified one or both protocols, to do so.

Moreover, we believe that children should also have the right to complain at the international level when their rights cannot be enforced domestically. We have been active in this regard, along with some other states from all regions, strongly supporting the establishment of a communication procedure under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the adoption of the new Optional Protocol to the Convention. Let me express our great satisfaction that the draft optional protocol will be put to adoption at this General Assembly Session meeting and we would like to invite all countries to support our cross regional initiative.

We firmly believe in the power of education. We see it as a strong pillar in the development of every child. Therefore Slovenia invests in children's education, about their rights and global education, at home and around the world. In this vein, we also support the adoption of the Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training at this General Assembly session (which will also be put forward by a cross-regional group- the Platform for Human Rights Education and Training of which Slovenia is a member).

School and education give children the possibility for a bright and secure future. Almost half of all the children that do not attend school are children in conflict situations. The new Security Council Resolution 1998 on children and armed conflict also relates to education.

With addressing the issue of attacks, or threat of attacks, on schools and hospitals it improves the protection of children from grave violations committed against them in armed conflict. Let me use this opportunity to express Slovenia's commitment to all Security Council Resolutions related to children and armed conflict and to call for accountability and end of impunity.

Children affected by armed conflicts around the world still need our attention. We support the extension of the mandate of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and armed conflict. By important achievements, especially regarding demobilization of children from armed forces and armed groups, the Special Representative has proven the relevance of her work and the need for the continuation of her mandate.

Children should live in a world free from violence and other forms of abuse. Crimes committed against children should not be tolerated and therefore procedures and mechanisms for the protection of children and prevention of these crimes should be developed at all levels.

For that reason Slovenia welcomes the report on effective, child-sensitive counseling, complaint and reporting mechanisms which was prepared jointly by the Special Representative on violence against children and Special Rapporteur on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography prepared for the March session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Slovenia would like to commend all those who work for the protection of children and promotion of their rights and praise for their tireless work and devotion. In this regard allow me to extend our support to UNICEF and all the special procedure related to children, especially both Special Representatives of the UN Secretary-General and the Special Rapporteur on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, as well as to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

At the end let me recall the four core principles enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child: non-discrimination; devotion to the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child. These principles should never be forgotten when working for or with children. Slovenia's Parliament already adopted a draft Family Code that fully encompasses all these core principles and should come into force soon.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.