Press Releases

    7 May 2002

    Secretary-General Tells Children, "Your Voices Will Be Heard" at Special Session, in Remarks to Children's Forum

    NEW YORK, 6 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks of Secretary-General Kofi Annan delivered in New York on 5 May to the Children's Forum, held before the General Assembly Special Session on Children:

    Welcome to the United Nations. This is a very special occasion to help us prepare for a very special session.

    Your presence here marks a new chapter in the history of the United Nations.

    It is the first time that the General Assembly will meet in a special session just to discuss children's issues. It is the first time that such large numbers of children will take part in a special session as official members of delegations representing governments as well as non-governmental organizations.

    That is a tremendous breakthrough. It is also obviously right. This is a special session for you and your fellow children around the world. It is right and necessary that you should play your part in it.

    We all want a better world for children. But so far, it is adults that have called the shots. Now, we are going to build a better world with children. It's high time that we adults hear what you have to say.

    Already, children and young people have played a crucial role in the national reviews and regional meetings that have led up to the special session. You have shown great leadership in the "Say Yes for Children" campaign, and in the Global Movement for Children. You have helped focus worldwide attention on the needs, and the rights, of your peers around the world.

    As the special session goes ahead this week, please don't be afraid to speak up. Your voices will be heard -- I promise you that. And I hope you will help us follow up afterwards to make sure we keep our promises. It is when the talking ends that the really hard part begins. I look to you to continue to watch out for children's rights when you go back home, and keep a close eye on progress in your countries.

    It is you, after all, who will take over in the next generation. Judging by your performance so far, I am sure you will take that mission seriously. And I hope many more will follow your example. I wish you every success in your forum here today. And good luck in the week ahead.

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