I congratulate you and fellow Bureau members on their election and thank the outgoing President and the Bureau for their good work last year.
I will begin by offering our deepest condolences over the tragic loss of life of UNICEF team members, Ms. Basra Hassan, Nutrition Specialist and Dr. Nasreen Khan, Health Specialist, in the terrorist attack on a restaurant in Kabul last month. We share this loss most acutely because Dr. Nasreen was a Pakistani national.
We thank the Executive Director for providing a comprehensive overview of the UNICEF activities and sharing his views with us on how to promote and protect the rights and interests of children as we enter into a new phase of development agenda.
We also thank Mr. Andris Piebalgs, EU’s Commissioner for Development, for his remarks and appreciate the European Union’s expanded emphasis on protection of children’s rights.
Last week’s release of the State of the World’s Children Report 2014, aptly titled as Every Child Counts, has once again highlighted that, despite progress, a lot still needs to be done. The figures released are appalling because the majority of 2.2 billion children of the World suffer from poverty, deprivation, displacement and marginalization.
This year, we begin our work on preparing a comprehensive, forward looking post-2015 development agenda. Nothing is more important than the strongest possible reiteration of our commitment that in all our actions concerning children, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration. Our commitment to promote sustainable development is nothing but a set of actions to ensure a better world for our children.
We, therefore, agree with the Executive Director that child protection should be positioned as a strategic priority in the post-2015 development agenda because it cuts across children’s health, education, nutrition and sanitation.
We also agree with the Executive Director that innovation and increased use of technology play an important role in helping children during conflicts and natural disasters. These new tools also speed up birth registration.
On the agenda items under discussion during the Session, I will make the following points:
First, gender equality is a cross-cutting theme. It impinges on our goals for sustainable development, peace and security, and protection of human rights, including the rights of children. We look forward to receiving the first draft of UNICEF’s Gender Action Plan. We emphasize that it must be based on the priorities identified by member states and benefit from the experience of the Organisation and its partners.
Second, the most vulnerable individuals in any humanitarian emergency are children, both girls and boys. The forecast for the increase in caseloads for the humanitarian action raises concerns about protection of children in conflict and emergency situation. We support UNICEF’s interventions through preparedness, response and recovery to save children’s lives and to protect their rights.
Third, no austerity policy or budgetary pressure shall limit Official Development Assistance for improving the lives of children and providing them with opportunities to attain their fullest potential.
Private funding, nevertheless, has its own complementary role. We, therefore, agree with the proposed 2014 Work Plan for Private Fundraising and Partnerships, especially with its aim of achieving four key results and focus on the markets with the highest growth potential.
We appreciate UNICEF’s partnership with Pakistan. We are thankful to its valuable assistance in our efforts to improve the lives of our children.
It is also helping us eliminate polio from Pakistan.
We have come a long way in eliminating polio from the country. Almost 95% of the country is now polio free. More is needed, however. We are therefore now implementing an augmented National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) to eradicate polio in 2014.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is leading the efforts to eradicate polio which threatens our future generations. To accomplish this mission, the Prime Minister has created a Polio Eradication Cell in his office and has designated a focal point to coordinate actions between the federal, provincial and local governments.
The President of Pakistan launched immunization programme in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa last month by convening a Grand Jirga where he sought and got support of local community, specially Ulema (religious scholars) and tribal leaders.
Despite security challenges, our valiant polio workers continue to perform their tasks with devotion and dedication. We salute their perseverance and commitment. We condemn terrorist attacks against them. We pay a tribute to the volunteers who have lost their lives while eradicating the menace of polio from our country.
In this effort, we continue to seek positive reinforcement and support from our partners, including UNICEF, and the international community.
I Thank You, Mr. President.