Statement by the delegation of the Republic of Cuba on agenda item 65: Promotion and Protection of the rights of children. Third Committee. New York, 18 October 2012.
In recent years, there has been a significant progress all over the world on the implementation of international commitments on the wellbeing and rights of children. However, there is still much to be done, and data provided by UNICEF each year on the number of deaths owing to preventable diseases, and the suffering from hunger, poverty, inequality and social exclusion of children remain aspects of great concern.
According to recent data by UNICEF, one in six children from developing countries is forced to work; most of them do it for low wages, unprotected, and in sectors like mining and agriculture.
Millions of children worldwide are victims of trafficking in human organs, child pornography and prostitution, as well as sexual violence and exploitation. It is estimated that human trafficking involves around one million children every year, and that more than 20 thousand children die every day in our planet. The vast majority of those deaths could have been prevented, especially because one in every three of those children died from malnutrition.
There are many challenges facing our pursuit of the fourth Millennium Development Goal: to reduce by two thirds the under-five mortality rate at the global level by 2015. We all have the responsibility to fight for a world in which children do not die from hunger and malnutrition, and in which schools are accessible to the more than 67 million children of primary school age and the more than 72 million adolescents that still cannot go.
Cuba is party to this momentous instrument that is the Convention on the Rights of the Child, since August 21st, 1991. However, policies, actions and programs in favor of children began to be implemented in Cuba since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, being ahead of the Convention itself by over 30 years.
The deep economic, political and social transformations undertaken from that moment on, made possible the eradication of structural injustices inherited from the colonial and neocolonial domination, in which most children and adolescents suffered the hardships of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, poor sanitation and discrimination. Today, those problems are only bad memories in the pages of our history.
Thanks to the political will and efforts of the Cuban Government, the promotion and protection of the rights of children and adolescents are a top priority.
The existence of a national health-care system, totally free of charge and recognized for its quality, and the universal and equally free-of-charge character of education at all teaching levels constitute essential pillars in the realization of this priority. In 2012, the Cuban Parliament allocated 52% of the State budget for health care, education and welfare.
The infant mortality rate in Cuba has been under five in the last four years. At present, it is 4.7 per one thousand live births and shows a record of zero infant mortality in 17 municipalities of the country. Before 1959, Cuba’s infant mortality rate was 60 per one thousand live births.
Some of the various measures we have implemented are: priority attention to the mother and the child; the integration of primary health care and hospital infrastructure; the vaccination of Cuban children against 13 communicable diseases; and the early detection of congenital diseases.
Also, all children and adolescents with special educational needs are ensured education. There are currently 396 special schools all over the nation, with excellent educational programs devoted to children with various types of disability.
Cuba has more than met the six goals of the UNESCO Education for All Programme, and fully implemented Millennium Development Goals 3 and 4.
The achievements attained are the result of the extraordinary effort of the Cuba people, despite the adverse consequences of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the US for over half a century, against the will of the international community that every year demands the end of that genocide policy in the framework of the General Assembly.
It should be noted that, in the past year, damages to the sector of the Cuban public health amounted to 10 million dollars. At present, Cuban hospitals face serious obstacles to obtain appropriate materials for children.
Due to the blockade, Cuban children are denied various medicines. Just to mention an example, the William Soler Pediatric Cardiological Center lacks a medicine called Levosimedan to treat low cardiac output, which is only manufactured by US laboratories.
Likewise, Cuba lacks nutritional formulas to feed newborns and children still on milk, as well as trace elements, parenteral vitamins, and laminar tissue used to treat children suffering from deep burns. Our country also faces difficulties to purchase kits used to diagnose AIDS in children born from HIV positive mothers, because they are also produced in the US.
There are many deplorable examples of Cuban children who continue to be innocent victims of the absurd blockade policy of the US against Cuba.
The greatest form of violence against children is to deny them the right to a safe future, health care, education, food and sound forms of recreation.
As long as policies in which international cooperation and solidarity prevail are not implemented, as long as a few get rich and so many millions suffer poverty, our children and the future of humankind will continue in danger.