UN General Assembly Special Session on Children


What was the GA Special Session on Children?

The UN Special Session on Children was held in New York in May 2002. The aim of the Special Session was

(1) to review progress made for children since 1990 specifically by returning to the achievements of the goals of the World Summit for Children, and

(2) to make a renewed commitment to children and develop a new global agenda for them in the coming decade.

What was the World Summit for Children?

It was a high-level meeting that took place at the United Nations in 1990. At that time, world leaders established 27 specific goals related to children's survival, health, nutrition, education and protection. The goals were to be met by the year 2000.

Why was the Special Session important?

  • It was the first time the General Assembly (GA) held a meeting entirely dedicated to children’s rights;
  • Governments had a ‘second chance’ to take decisive action to achieve full implementation of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;
  • It represented an important opportunity to review the successes and failures of achieving the World Summit goals;
  • It was a chance for children, NGOs and civil society organisations at national, regional and international level to talk to governments about what needed to be done;
  • It provided an additional mechanism for governments to be held accountable for their actions towards children, through the development and implementation of National Plans of Action.

Who participated?

Government leaders and Heads of State, NGOs, civil society leaders, children's advocates and young people themselves. Around 3,600 NGOs were accredited to the Special Session on Children.

What were the outcomes?

    • ‘A World Fit For Children’ (WFFC)

The future agenda focused on four key priorities:

        • promoting healthy lives
        • providing quality education for all;
        • protecting children against abuse, exploitation and violence; and
        • combating HIV and AIDS.

'A World Fit For Children' calls for new and additional resources to be allocated for child rights at both national and international levels. It supports the pursuit of agreed-upon global targets and actions for official development assistance, as well as the development of local partnerships. The document concludes with a section on follow-up actions and assessment to facilitate implementation and to ensure monitoring, periodic reviews and reporting.

    • National Plans of Action (NPAs)

After the Special Session, governments were required to develop national, and where appropriate, regional action plans to ensure that the targets and benchmarks were achieved. Governments have been encouraged to develop National Plans of Action taking into account the key issues and priorities for children in their own countries, as well as relevant, cultural, religious and social traditions. The NPAs have been complemented by inclusion of these goals into other policies and development plans, such as Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP).

What has been done since then?

The UN official report of the Secretary-General ‘Follow-up to the Special Session of the General Assembly on Children’ was published in August 2006 and includes an update on progress achieved in realising the commitments set out in the WFFC document, with a view to identifying new challenges and making recommendations on actions needed to achieve further progress.

A total of 177 countries are now engaged in activities to follow up the goals of WFFC. Those countries have incorporated the goals into their planning processes by either developing NPAs on children’s issues or integrating the goals into mainstream national plans. Several countries have used both mechanisms.

A total of 47 countries had completed NPAs by the end of 2005, an increase from 25 in 2003. In addition, 99 countries had incorporated the goals of WFFC into national development plans, such as PRSPs, by the end of 2005 - an increase from 68 in 2003.

Efforts to develop regional, provincial, district and local plans of action were reported in numerous countries in 2005. In some countries, follow-up on NPAs at the sub-national level has been much stronger than at the national level.

The official report also noted an increased attention to the CRC. The majority of NPAs for children make reference to the Convention or to the Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on reports of the respective States Parties to the Convention.

What happens next?

A commemorative high-level plenary meeting will take place in New York from 11 - 12

December 2007, to evaluate progress made in the implementation of the Declaration and the Plan of Action contained in the document ‘A World Fit For Children’.

The event will be organised as follows:

    • The high-level plenary meeting will comprise plenary meetings and two thematic interactive round tables;
    • The President of the GA will hold consultations with all Member States no later than 30 September 2007 in order to circulate a list of three speakers for the closing plenary meeting and a list of 20 children and 20 representatives of NGOs who will participate in the two round tables (ten children and ten representatives each);
    • All Member States and Observers will be encouraged to address the GA at the meeting;
    • A girl and a boy selected through a process led by UNICEF, and a representative of an NGO in consultative status with ECOSOC, will address the closing plenary meeting;
    • Member States will be encouraged to include children and young people in their delegations;
    • An outcome document will be adopted as a brief declaration reaffirming the commitment to the full implementation of the Declaration and the Plan of Action contained in the document ‘A World Fit For Children’.

    Where can I read more?

    pdf: http://www.crin.org/law/mechanisms_index.asp


      Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.