Delegate: Miss Reimer
8. Miss REIMER (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the Danish Youth Council and as youth representative on the Danish delegation to the General Assembly, noted that 1995 would be the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations and the tenth anniversary of the International Youth Year. Those prospects, along with the World Summit for Social Development to take place in Copenhagen in March 1995, had aroused great expectations. Just as children hoped for presents on their birthday – although, sadly, many had nothing to look forward to but fear, insecurity and disappointment – she would express a few wishes in the name of all the children and youth of the world: that the 18 countries which had not yet ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child should do so; that the system for monitoring the Convention on the Rights of the Child should be strengthened by empowering the Committee to receive and consider complaints and by mandating a special rapporteur to make inspections in the countries concerned; that the Copenhagen Summit should see a breakthrough for sustainable human development in the fight against poverty; and finally, that all member states should decide to send youth representatives to the fiftieth session of the General Assembly.
9. Her delegation felt that the time had come to focus attention on children and young people, who were only asking for a fair start in life. It was possible to create a world in which children would not have to live in fear, in [*5*] which they would feel secure and could have faith in the future. Those, in fact, had been the intentions of the General Assembly when they had adopted the convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. She was very pleased to note that 166 countries had already ratified the Convention.
10. However, five years had elapsed since the adoption of the Convention and there were still indications of serious violations of children’s rights. In addition, the Committee monitoring the implementation of the Convention was overloaded with work, because the very number of ratifications had resulted in a host of reports for consideration. The monitoring mechanism needed to be strengthened in order to give the Convention a chance to become the powerful instrument it was meant to be. She welcomed the recent decision by the States Parties to the Convention to increase the annual number of Committee meeting sessions from two to three. However, additional measures were needed. The Committee should be empowered to receive and consider complaints from individuals or groups who claimed that their rights under the Convention had been violated. A similar system was in use, for instance, in connection with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Her delegation also suggested that the Commission on Human Rights should appoint a special rapporteur to supplement the Committee’s work. The special rapporteur would monitor respect for the fundamental rights of children by making inspections in all countries, whether or not they were parties to the Convention and whether or not they had accepted the right of individuals to bring complaints.
11. Turning to the subject of poverty, she noted that poverty had many faces, from those who struggled for daily survival to those who found themselves out of work and unable to support themselves and their families. She stressed that every child had the right to adequate food, clean water, good housing, reliable health care and, last but not least, a basic education. That dream seemed unlikely to come true as long as everyday life for the people of the world was determined by policies narrowly focused on economic growth, trade and development assistance. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were continuing to assist Governments in implementing structural adjustment programmes; although they had recently agreed to take social consequences into account in their programmes, they need to intensify their efforts in thatdirection.
12. She recalled that in 1993, UNDP had declared that poverty had its greatest impact on children and was a denial of future generations and that in most developing countries, poverty was often caused less by a shortage of resources than by their uneven distribution. The obvious and difficult challenge was to redistribute the world’s resources in an appropriate way, both within countries and between them. She was pleased that the United Nations had accepted the challenge by organizing the World Summit on Social Development.
13. Danish youth were very enthusiastic about those new prospects for sustainable human development. They would do everything they could to help realize them. Non-governmental youth organizations had already planned many [*6*] activities to take place along with the Summit. But that enthusiasm could easily turn to bitter disappointment, if Member States did not feel a responsibility to apply the new approach to the struggle against poverty. She hoped that the Summit in Copenhagen would mark the start of a new era, because poverty anywhere was a threat to prosperity everywhere.
14. Her delegation welcomed the proposed world youth programme of action to the year 2000 and beyond as an attempt to create a coherent youth policy within the United Nations system. Regrettably, children and young people were not participating enough in that process. In 1993, the youth representative from Denmark had asked for more youth representation at the forty-ninth session of the General Assembly. Only three nations had heeded her appeal. The celebration of the tenth anniversary of the International Youth Year and the plenary meeting of the General Assembly on youth issues would make sense only if young people chosen by young people were participating.
UN Doc.: A/C.3/49/SR.10