Press Releases

    9 May 2002

    Non-Governmental Organizations Are "Vital Partners" in Implementing Aims and Goals of Special Session on Children, Secretary-General Says

    NEW YORK, 8 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the non-governmental organization meeting held during the special session of the General Assembly on children:

    I am really delighted to welcome all of you to the United Nations. It is always a special privilege for me to enter a roomful of people whose goal in life is to make the world a better place. You non-governmental organizations (NGOs) give life and meaning to the concept of "We, the Peoples", in whose name our United Nations Charter was written.

    Let me also say that you are vital partners of governments in pursuing the United Nations agenda for peace and development, and in implementing the aims and goals of the special session on children and I have always maintained that without you, we cannot do what we do.

    In the long-standing debate over the proper place for civil society in the United Nations, I think we can all agree that the work for children is one area where the role of NGOs is beyond question. You are indispensable to that work.

    We have had some success in treating children as a "zone of peace" in conflict zones. Let us treat children as a "zone of consensus, of agreement" here at the United Nations. Let us use the United Nations as common ground where governments, NGOs and the rest of civil society can work together for the common good -- and for our children and for our common future.

    I am especially happy to see so many young people among you today, and in the building this week. This special session of the General Assembly is a milestone in terms of young people's participation. Never before have so many children participated in United Nations activities or have addressed the General Assembly. Never before have so many young people taken such an energetic part in so many round tables and other supporting events.

    It is right and necessary that young people's voices be heard, and that their concerns be taken seriously by the participants of the special session. If we are to live up to the title of the outcome document, and build "A World Fit for Children", we must also build it with children.

    After the work to finalize the outcome document is over, you NGOs will have an especially crucial role to play. Just as you have been so active in promoting the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we will look to you to act as watchdogs and monitor progress in implementing the promises that have been made at this session. Do keep us on our toes!

    I am grateful to every one of you for your commitment, and I wish you the best of luck here for this week.

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