4 Keys to a Child-Friendly World Outlined

Rights Begin Before Birth, Says Holy See

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NEW YORK, DEC. 17, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See is hoping for a world truly "fit for children," and believes family rights, education, the eradication of poverty and improved health care are key elements to make this a reality.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, affirmed this Thursday in an address to the U.N. General Assembly, which focused on the follow-up of a 2002 special session on children.

"The Convention of the Rights of the Child remains the standard in the promotion and protection of the rights of the child," he said. "It contains such fundamental principles as the rights of the child before, as well as after birth, the family as the natural environment for the growth and education of children, and the right of the child to the best health care and education possible."

The Holy See representative focused especially on the need to educate the world's children.

"Education lies at the heart of the development of every child," Archbishop Migliore said. And he noted that some 250,000 Catholic schools on every continent contribute to this goal.

The prelate lamented that "chronic poverty remains the single biggest obstacle to meeting the needs of children," and that education is key "to empowering them to break the cycle of extreme poverty and raise awareness of their self-worth and dignity."

AIDS battle

Archbishop Migliore turned his attention to the issue of health care, and especially protecting children from HIV/AIDS. Here, too, he noted the commitment of the Holy See, mentioning the "thousands of institutions engaged in the care and education of orphans, prevention and awareness campaigns, the distribution of antiretroviral drugs, basic health care and nutrition, the prevention of mother-to-child viral transmission, the fight against stigma, and the empowerment of peoples living with HIV/AIDS to be protagonists in the fight against the epidemic."

But, the archbishop contended, more effort needs to be made in the battle against other diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis.

"An even more fundamental challenge is the lack of access of children and mothers to basic health care and sanitation," he continued. "Sanitation is one of the most overlooked and underserved basic human needs, and international efforts to deliver on this area have been 'lackluster.' Children are the first victims of such an 'unacceptable situation.' This neglect or lack of focus on basic health care is very costly, given that basic medical prevention is often one of the most cost effective and successful ways of improving the health and stability of society."

"My delegation earnestly hopes that the commitments renewed or made in the course of this plenary are not mere declarations of good intentions or objectives for which to aspire," Archbishop Migliore concluded, "but steadfast commitments to uphold, so that a world truly fit for children can at last become a reality."