”The state of the world’s children is far from perfect. There is a lot of work to be done and we must do it much better”, the Permanent Representative of Finland, AmbassadorJarmo Viinanen said on the first UNICEF Executive Committee meeting in New York on Tuesday.
Ambassador Viinanen reminded that there is another world outside the meeting room walls. “In that real world children suffer every day. In any humanitarian crisis caused by political crisis children are main victims, losing their lives and future because of reckless actions taken by adults.”
He pointed out that children are not only victims; they are active agents of change, wise beyond their years, as demonstrated most recently by inspiring Malala Yousafzai. “She is a resilient young advocate for girls’ education.”
Giving his first statement as the President of the Executive Committee Ambassador Viinanen highlighted the article 3 in the Convention on the Rights of the Child according to which the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration. “This should be the guiding principle in our work as the Executive Board of the UNICEF.”
Ambassador Viinanen acknowledged UNICEF for its work in Finland over 65 years ago.
”We are very proud that we as a receiving country managed to become a donor country in only three years.” He emphasized the importance of education, health care and nutrition in children’s development as well as in development of countries recovering from crisis. “After all, child-friendly policies are not dependent on the income level of the country.”
The President of the World Bank participated the meeting for the first time in history. The President, DrJim Yong Kim showed great enthusiasm in co-operation with UNICEF:”I have admired UNICEF for years.” He reminded that poverty, education of disadvantaged children and youth unemployment are too broad problems for any player to solve alone. According to him, close and committed co-operation is absolutely crucial. He said that “fighting against global poverty is far from over”.
Dr Jim Kim and the Executive Board discussed the Millenium Development Goals. There are only some 1000 days left before the 2015 Millenium Development Goals deadline. A lot of progress has been made and can be celebrated but many challenges remain.
Executive President of UNICEF, Mr Anthony Lake highlighted the same policies as Ambassador Viinanen in the meeting: quality education, health, security and clean water are some of the key elements in the work of UNICEF. He said that this year UNICEF will give new attention to exploring how technology can increase access to education for out-of-school children as well as improve the quality of their education.
Mr Lake spoke of 2013 as a year of urgent action. He urged that Member States reverse the continuing trend of declining core resources. There was a notable decrease of over seven per cent from 2011 to 2012. “Core resources are essential if we are to invest in underfunded but important countries and sectors, support innovations, and respond quickly to what will undoubtedly be new emergencies”, Mr Lake said.
Ambassador Jarmo Viinanen, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations is the President of the UNICEF Executive Board in 2013. The first session of the Executive Board is hold in New York on 5-8 February.
Opening remarks at the UNICEF Executive Board’s First Regular Session, February 5, 2013, by the President of the Executive Board, Ambassador Jarmo Viinanen.