Statement by Human Rights Commissioner Günter Nooke at the Commemorative High-Level Plenary Meeting, 11/12 December 2007

13.12.2007 - Speech

Excellencies, Distinguished delegates, Dear children!

It is an honour for me to address this high-level audience on behalf of the German Government. Germany welcomes and fully supports this timely initiative to re-energize international efforts to create “A World fit for Children” and I would like to particularily welcome all children present here today.

Witnessed by the children of the world, heads of state and government and delegations from 190 countries committed their countries at the General Assembly` s Special Session on Children in 2002 to an ambitious time-bound agenda with specific goals for children and a general framework for reaching them. We expressed our firm determination to seize the historic opportunity to change the world for and with children.

Germany has listened carefully to the call that went out from the Special Session in 2002:

In February 2005, the Federal Cabinet approved a National Action Plan “For a Germany Fit for Children 2005-2010”. It aims to establish child and youth policy as a field of politics in its own right. The Plan contains around 170 measures to be implemented by 2010 to improve the lives of children and families. It is divided into six national priority fields of action:

  • Equal opportunities through education
  • A non-violent upbringing
  • Promoting a healthy life and environment
  • Participation of children and young people
  • Developing an adequate standard of living for children
  • International commitments.

In developing this Plan, the German government worked closely with key players from politics and civil society. A national interim progress report will be published in 2008. In line with the recommendations by the Special Session 2002, Germany` s Third Country Report on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child will include another evaluation of our National Action Plan.

To achieve our national objectives and to further promote and protect the rights of our children, the Federal Government has also taken legislative action in recent years, including the adoption of:

  • An “Act on the outlawing of violence in bringing up children” (2000)
  • A new law on parental leave (2001)
  • A law on child credit and parental leave (2007)
  • A new Youth Protection Act (2003).

In addition, the Federal Government has initiated specific programmes to further improve the lives of children, such as a capital investment program “Future of Education and Care” to build up all-day schooling in Germany as well as a campaign for the development of “Early Assistance for Parents and Children and Social Early-Warning Systems” to identify risks and to prevent threats to children’s well-being.

In April 2007, national, state and local governments in Germany agreed to extend the number of places in child care available for children under three years from 285,000 at present to 750,000 by 2013. The federal government will adopt accompanying measures to improve the quality of work in child care facilities. It also plans to give financial support to companies offering childcare.

The German government also aims to involve children and young people in political decision-making and design processes affecting their future. Children and young people participate actively in the development and implementation of our National Action Plan. The results are reflected in a Children and Youth Report complementing this Plan.

Moreover, Germany continues to fully support initiatives at the regional and international level and in international human rights fora to make children` s rights a priority in international policies and decision-making processes:

In the first half of 2007, Germany proposed the development of new “EU Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child. The project was successfully concluded two days ago with the adoption of these Guidelines by the EU Council. They are further proof of the EU` s determination to give children` s rights utmost priority in its external human rights policy.

In concluding, I would like to underline that Germany looks forward to continued close cooperation with all like-minded partners and at all levels to implement the rights of the child and the many commitments made in this respect, particularly at the previous World Summit for Children and the Special Session of 2002 and as enshrined in a comprehensive framework of international human rights instruments and standards for children, most importantly the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols.

On behalf of the German government I wish this High-Level Plenary meeting every success. Thank you for your attention.

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