Statement by Ambassador Neven Jurica in the UNICEF''''s Annual session 2008

Stalni predstavnik RH pri Ujedinjenim narodima, veleposlanik Neven Jurica održao je govor na Godišnjoj sjednici UNICEF-a o radu izvršnog direktora na temu napretka i dostignuca u ispunjavanju srednjorocnog strateškog plana.

STATEMENT BY Ambassador Neven Jurica, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Croatia to the United Nations Annual Report of the Executive Director: Progress and Achievemnts Against the Medium-term Strategic Plan United Nations Children's Fund Executive Board Annual Session 2008 New York, N.Y. 3 June 2008 Mr. President, Ms. Executive Director, Croatia welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Annual report concerning the progress and achievements of the Medium Term Strategic Plan [MTSP] in its second year of implementation, and would like to thank the Executive Director Ms. Anne Veneman and UNICEF's staff for its preparation. MTSP's connection and interrelation with the Millennium Development Goals [MDG] makes it a stronger instrument for further advancement in the field of children's needs. Hitherto, two reports concerning national progress in achieving the MDGs have been published in Croatia, which in their own way support and supplement the implementation of the MTSP goals. In this context, it should be noted that the MTSP strategy is included into our national plans, creating a synergy with ongoing government efforts towards achieving the health-related MDG-s. Mr. President, Allow me now to focus on some parts of the Report and share with you some of our own experiences. We welcome the progress, albeit slow, on the issue of the young child and survival, and commend in particular the continuation of the reduction of measles-related deaths, progress in maternal and neonatal tetanus vaccination, as well as, reduction in polio and malaria mortality. However, the situation remains urgent and much more needs to be done in order to significantly improve other key areas in child survival policy, such as breastfeeding, parenting programs, and water supply for "200 million children who have not been developing to their full potential because of poor health and nutrition", as highlighted in the Report. As maternal mortality is closely linked with the development of national health systems, including to antenatal, natal and postnatal care, we believe that the reduction of maternal mortality must be put higher on government's agendas, especially in developing countries, where national capacities need to be further strengthened. Croatia's indicators in this field are – 7.44 deaths per 100,000 births and 6.1 deaths per 1,000 births infant mortality rate, both showing the level of maternal care. Currently, UNICEF is co-operating with the Croatian Ministry of Health through the advocacy campaign “Together from the start” in order to improve conditions in maternity wards. All 36 maternity hospitals in Croatia are working towards becoming child-friendly, while 5 have already been awarded with "Baby Friendly Hospital" status. Mr. President, Croatia is especially pleased that progress in the field of education and gender related MDGs has been noted in developing countries and we strongly support all national efforts in mainstreaming this issue in government priorities. We fully support progress in developing countries concerning the increase of access to primary education as well as on gender parity. Even though problems still exist at the secondary school level, where 185 million children worldwide are not afforded this opportunity, we applaud the news concerning progress in the establishment of child friendly schools, and the adoption of quality standards in 62 countries. UNICEF advocacy and support in the area of early childhood development (ECD) is of significant importance and is a response to widely expressed concerns about the lack of adequate support to parents. In Croatia, a UNICEF “Program on Young Child Development and Positive Parenting” has been launched in cooperation with Croatian authorities, aiming to reach parents of young children to enhance the healthy, safe, stimulating and emotionally stable development of young children, as well as, to improve support services to parents, including pediatrics and nurses for children. In this respect, awareness raising and the fund-raising campaign "The First 3 are Most Important" has increased interest in Croatia and generated sufficient funds from citizens and companies. Included in the campaign is a message against corporal punishment, as the most widespread form of violence against children. Moreover, I would like to inform you that following the recommendations contained in the UN Study on Violence against Children, the launching of the Council of Europe initiative against corporal punishment of children will be organized on 15 June this year in Zagreb, Croatia. The initiative calls for the abolition of corporal punishment against children in all settings – schools, penal systems, alternative care structures and in particular the home. Mr. President, In regard to family-based care for children who lack parental care, the Croatian government is closely co-operating with UNICEF so as reduce the number of children cared for by institutions through increasing the national capacities of social and health services, with the aim of reaching a ratio of 30%-70% in favor of children placed in foster care. UNICEF invests a great deal of effort in helping the county foster care supports teams that are already incorporated in the new Law on Foster Care, the drafting of which the UNICEF office participated in. The UNICEF project "For a Safe and Enabling Environment in School", which has been implemented during the past five years in Croatia, occupies a special place in Croatia's violence protection policy – 233 schools are included in the project and amongst those 129 schools have been awarded with the title “Violence–free school”. A comprehensive manual for teachers and school counselors has been printed and distributed to schools so as to help with the future sustainability of this project, which has already been successfully exported to the neighboring countries Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro and now Bulgaria, which has started its implementation. Mr. President, Ms. Executive Director, Finally, I would particularly like to point out that UNICEF has a new and evolving role to play in middle income countries. Despite the certain improvement in the field of child survival, especially in comparison with low income countries, the existing disparities, lost opportunities as well as new modern risks for children are a great challenge. The average income in these countries is higher, but the enormous disparities between the rich and poor make those who are poor more vulnerable and more discriminated. These countries are characterized by significant resources from the private sector, and UNICEF can play a unique role to mobilize means for children and, in accordance with its vision, lead a broader partnership of all accountable for taking action in this field. Thank you.