The Special Session on Children is an unprecedented meeting of the UN General Assembly dedicated to the children and adolescents of the world. It will bring together government leaders and Heads of State, NGOs, children’s advocates and young people themselves from 19-21 September 2001 at the United Nations in New York City.

The gathering will present a great opportunity to change the way the world views and treats children.

A follow-up to the 1990 World Summit for Children

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In 1990, at the World Summit for Children, 71 Heads of State and Government and other leaders signed the World Declaration on Survival, Protection and Development of Children and adopted a Plan of Action to achieve a set of precise, time-bound goals. These goals included:

Improving living conditions for children and their chances for survival by increasing access to health services for women and children

Reducing the spread of preventable diseases

Creating more opportunities for education

Providing better sanitation and greater food supply; and protecting children in danger.

The commitment to realizing the World Summit goals has helped move children and child rights to a place high on the world’s agenda. The Special Session is an important follow-up to the 1990 World Summit.

What does the Special Session on Children hope to accomplish

A review of the progress made for children in the decade since the 1990 World Summit for Children and the World Declaration and Plan of Action.

The end-of-decade review will combine national, regional and global reports. The review will not only chart the achievements of the last decade; it will also serve to inform world leaders as they plan future actions for children.

A renewed commitment and a pledge for specific actions for the coming decade.

World leaders will explore the long-standing challenges of serving and protecting children, as well as the issues emerging in this rapidly changing world. They will be asked to identify strategic solutions to the problems facing children and to commit the critical human and economic resources that will be called for.

Expected outcomes of the Special Session

The Special Session is expected to produce a global agenda with a set of goals and a plan of action devoted to ensuring three essential outcomes:

The best possible start in life for all children.

A good-quality basic education for all children.

The opportunities for all children, especially adolescents, for meaningful participation in their communities.

Partnerships for change

“We cannot waste our precious children. Not another one, not another day. It is long past time for us to act on their behalf.”

– Nelson Mandela and Graa Machel

Nelson Mandela, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and Graa Machel, expert on children in armed conflict, are working with UNICEF to build broad support to change the world for children.

Together they are calling on leaders from government, civil society and the private sector to form a global movement committed to ending discrimination against children and adolescents.

Their hopes:

To convince leaders to act

To inspire and engage the public

To hear what young people have to say.

From there, the Global Movement for Children will carry this message to the world. The Global Movement will work to provide a united voice for all those throughout the world working to improve the lives of children.

The aim of the partnership formed at the Special Session is to change the world for children and ensure that every child, without exception, is assured the right to dignity, security and self-fulfillment.

Visit the Child Rights Information Network (CRIN) for more information on NGO activities and issues, including thematic caucuses (i.e. Child Rights, Children and Armed Conflicts, and Girls Caucuses) and regional caucuses and coalitions. The CRIN covered caucuses that met during the Second Substantive Session of the Preparatory Committee of the Special Session on Children (New York, 29 January – 2 February 2000).

A decisive decade of protection

Children’s rights are most fully articulated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Created over a period of ten years with the input of representatives from different societies, religions and cultures, the Convention was adopted as an international human rights treaty on 20 November 1989.


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