Members of the ASEAN,
The Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out that all children have fundamental rights relating to survival, participation, development, and protection against discrimination.
I am proud to say that Norway is at the forefront of international efforts to protect children’s rights and ensure compliance with the UN conventions and other international instruments relating to children.
In my country, Norway, we have a tradition that children and young people should be heard in matters that affect them. This means that we also emphasise this as policy; the importance of establishing and maintaining independent institutions that children can turn to and that speak out for them.
The Convention has been ratified by almost every country in the world, but a number of countries have made extensive reservations.
There have been positive development in recent years on key areas of education and survival. However, challenges remain. Twenty-five years after the Convention was adopted, a huge number of children are still living in conditions that are far below the standards set.
The universality of the Convention on the Rights of the Child must be upheld. All governments must be held accountable for realising children's rights through legislation and by establishing the necessary institutional mechanisms.
Governments must ensure that children and young people are protected against violence, abuse, exploitation, and recruitment to armed groups, and they must give priority to safeguarding children’s right to survival, development, health and education when allocating resources.
Dear friends, it is important that measures here in the ASEAN region, and even globally, target the poorest and most marginalised children, and that children and young people have the opportunity to participate, to express their opinions and to organise themselves in order to promote their interests and define their needs.
Norway’s intensified global efforts to promote education will improve the realisation of children’s rights, such as their opportunity to participate, and will increase children’s awareness of human rights.
When children are kept out of school or when schools fail to achieve adequate learning outcomes, this is a fundamental violation of children’s rights with far-reaching social and economic impacts.
In order to ensure that our efforts reach all children who are still out of school or not learning enough in school, my Government is giving particular priority to girls, children with disabilities and children in crisis and conflict situations. These groups account for most of those who do not have opportunities for personal development through education.
I would like to share Norway’s three priorities:
- First, we want to strengthen the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by incorporating the Convention into national legislation.
- We want to ensure that children are protected in armed conflict, and combat violence against children;
- To help all children to have the same opportunity to start and complete school, so that all children and young people can learn basic skills and are equipped to tackle adult life.
Lastly, as your Filipino national hero once said, “the youth are the hope and the future.” Empowering children and young people is a good investment, as it fosters the development of active citizens who can assert their social, economic and political rights.