Today, it is my pleasure to be here with you all to celebrate the 64th International Children’s Day and Cambodian Children Day of the 1st June, under the topic of “Child development is the foundation for the national development” and the 12th World Day Against Child Labor of 12th June, under the topic of “No to Child Labor on domestic work.”

At the outset, I strongly support to all programs, which have been implemented in the Kingdom of Cambodia with the aim of meeting the basic need of children as stipulated in the Cambodia constitution and the international convention on the Rights of the Child, for all Cambodia children and the children of all nations residing in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Taking this auspicious opportunity, I would like to commend the Cambodia National Council for Children, Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, all concerned ministries/organizations and authorities, both national and international organizations as well as development partners, who jointly organize this event and offer an invaluable opportunity for children from all corners to join this happy and warm gathering. This close collaboration has clearly reflected the high attention of the Royal Government of Cambodia to the implementation of the rights of the child in the Kingdom. In fact, Cambodia began fulfilling this task immediately after the country’s liberation in January 07, 1979, thus the rights of the people, particularly the rights of the child in Cambodia has been protected and enhanced gradually.

Indeed, the International Children’s Day, which has been celebrated, bear witness to the serious commitment and attention of all nations to the implementation of the rights of the child and specifically the cruelty the fascist Hitler, who killed women and children in the LI’S MISER village of the Czech Republic and the Oradour village of France for 1942-1994 during the World War II. In Cambodia, we also suffered the  the genocide and horror that had been inflicted to the Cambodian people, especially the children by the Pol Pot regime were were much more devastating than what Hitler had done. The child labor is a pervasive problem, which engulfs in many countries throughout the world, in the worst forms of child slavery, trafficking and prostitution, the use of children in the armed conflict in vulnerable condition and in household jobs being rendered vulnerable to accepting low wages or no wages, a serious violation to the rights of the child.  As a consequence, the International Labor Organization developed the conventions and action plan to effectively abolish the worst form of child labor, which has been ratified and strongly supported by many countries in the world.

In the spirit to enhance and abolish child labor, Cambodia also strongly supported and ratified many conventions such as the convention on the rights of the child, Optional protocol to Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict and on the Sale of Children, Child prostitution and Child Pornography, the Convention on the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment, the Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Form of Child Labor, the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption. Overall, all key contents of the conventions was inserted into the constitution, all laws and legal frameworks such as the Code of Civil Procedure, Civil Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, Criminal Code, Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Protection of Victims, Law on Drug Control, Law on Education, Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation, Law on Protection and Promotion of Rights of People with Disability, Law on Inter-country Adoption and Law on Prisons, etc.

In addition, the Royal Government also released the Statement on Cambodia for the Children given focus on the four priorities as follows: (1) reduction of maternal and infant mortality rate, (2) quality education for all and reduction of gender gap; (3) combating HIV/AIDs; and (4) child protection, especially against drug trafficking, exploitation and abuse. We have formulated national policies and action plan related to the rights of child as well. In addition, the Kingdom of Cambodia had signed bilateral agreements and created a number of mechanisms at the national and sub-national level to facilitate child affairs in the spirit of promoting the elimination of the worth forms of child labor and enhancing the rights of the child. Thanks to the above concerted efforts, Cambodia had made the great success, for instance 41,988 children engaging in child labor was identified and prevented from the worth forms of child labor and given education, training professional skill and integrated themselves into society and continue cooperating with the World Vision for more 4 years (2013-2016) in order to continue reducing 28,000 child labor in 2015 while they are working for or are under vulnerable condition of child labor in the agriculture, fishery and domestic work. At the same time, we also cracked down the sale, trafficking and exploitation on human, sexual exploitation on women and children for 133 cases, caught 165 suspects, including 12 foreigners, rescuing 485 persons, including 154 children. In addition, we has made good progress in the reduction of maternal and infant mortality as well. The fruitful result has vividly illustrated the high commitment of the Royal Government and also high attention to social issues by given focus on not only elderly and youth, but also child affairs, which social welfare of children has been enhanced and further given opportunity to better growth.

Of the total population, Cambodia recently has 5, 487, 708 children below the age of 18 or equivalent to 41% and 1,961,128 children at the age of 6 years-old of 1,961,128 and the average annual population growth rate is 1.54%. Within this, Cambodia has to further increase the socio-economic activities to meet the demand of children. In response to this matter, the Royal Government has a high commitment to build schools at all levels nationwide, in particular the area along the border and area facing difficulty, aiming at meeting increasing demand for education and bring schools closer to Cambodian people residents. Totally, we have had 11,370 schools for general education, of which 2,813 schools are for kindergarten, 6,910 schools are for primary school, 1,214 schools are for secondary school and 433 schools are for high school. As a result, net enrollment rate for children at primary school is 97% and there are 3, 500, 000 students totally. The above achievements have been realized thanks to the right policies of the Royal Government given high priority to the implementation of the rights of the child in collaboration with development partners and non-governmental organizations such as UNICEFF, World Vision etc, who has established a number of programs in the welfare of children and special attention of parents and communities to their beloved children.

At the same time, taking the opportunity of the celebration of the 64th International Children’s Day and the 12th World Day against Child Labor – 12 June, I would like to lay out a number of additional recommendation to the Cambodia National Council for Children, all concerned ministries/organizations, and all relevant authorities and parties as follows:

First: must pay attention to disseminate and promote the implementation of the rights of the child as stated in the constitution, especially the rights to live, rights to education and protection against the sexual exploitation on children and continue to implement the convention and other agreements on the children’s rights that was already ratified.  Every child must be given rights to survive, develop and receive the protection and participation in social activity without discrimination in Cambodian society in the view of realism which is the children to continue leading the country as bamboo shoot.

Second, must continue preparing the policy and strategy on children in order to integrate into the political platform of the Royal Government in the 5th legislature by considering the sector of children’s welfare as the priority agenda in the political platform of the Royal Government in the next mandate.  We must also prepare the 10 years national strategy for child development 2014-2024 in order to improve the framework, laws and legal documents, action plan and various mechanisms for child development as well as efficiently responding to the challenges and lead to achieve the Cambodian Millennium Development Goal related to children.

Third, must encourage the mothers to check their pregnancy before delivery at the health center and the health service provider must pay attention to take care of mothers, infants and children by providing 8 kinds of vaccination to the children, promote the breast-feeding and nutrition to children, including the provision of micro substance such as iron substance, Vitamin A, Iodine etc.  For now, we must provide support and ensure the sustainability of the hospitals specializing in children such as the national pediatric hospital, Kuntha Bopha hospital in order to provide treatment service to the children with better efficiency.  In this sense, I would like to appreciate and deeply thank for the response action with efficiency of the Cambodian Red Cross for the poor and vulnerable people in every places, especially the children as well as providing the budget of USD 1 million to sustain the Kuntha Bopha hospital, and I would also like to thank the Bayon Foundation of the Bayon TV and Radio Station who has contributed USD 1.5 million to Kuntha Bopha hospital.

Fourth, must continue promoting the education quality of the children and try to increase the enrolment rate of the children and enhance the reduction of repetition and school drop among the children.  At the same time, we must promote the non-formal education, integration of disability children in all levels of school without discrimination, and must promote the implementation of the national policy on child protection and development in order to ensure that every child receives education.  The improvement of basic education will expand opportunity for education for all children as well as increasing their understanding of the community on the value of education for the future of children.

Fifth, must continue to promote the welfare of the children who are vulnerable and must continue to implement the policy on substitution care for children, maximum standard to take care of children in the center, substitution care for children in the community, and legal procedure of power delegation to the sub-national administration in the work of children’s welfare.  Among those, we must provide primary priority to the caring of children in families because families are where the caring and warmth is provided for the growth of children and this is the children’s rights stated in the convention of children.  At the same time, we must try to find good families for children through children adoption inside the country and later through the inter-countries children adoption as stated in the law.  Besides, we must continue to pay high attention and support the vulnerable children, children in poor families, making sure they receive nutrition, healthcare, non-formal education, in order to make sure these children receive the same growth as other children.  In this context, I believe that we will truly achieve the content of our topic “child development is the foundation of national development” and “the spirit of world day against the child labor”.

Sixth, must promote the youth rehabilitation and continue to implement the education program on morality, virtue, prevention of illegal acts of youngster youth, and youth, especially the criminal acts of using drugs, violating the law, violence…etc.  At the same time, we must promote the implementation of the policy of “Village/Commune Safety” in order to contribute to prevent the issue of drugs, underage against the law or gangsters as well as implementing the justice program for under age people in the prisons, providing protection for underage children according to the convention on children.  At the same time, the movement of Cambodian Red Cross youth and Cambodian KAYARITH must be more active in educating youth and children on the morality, virtue to be away from the use of drugs and all kinds of alcohol that is to upgrade the interest of our society.

Seventh, must continue to promote the comprehensive dissemination and implementation of the action plan on the crackdown of trafficking of human labor and sexual exploitation in order to effectively prevent and crack down the crime of human trafficking, especially on children by not allowing them to get away from the legal net.  At the same time, we must strengthen the quality of information delivery on the children’s rights based on the national policy on the children and convention on children’s rights.  All TV stations must review and improve the children program in order participate in the implementation of children’s rights to make them become good citizen in the future as the true pillar of the nation.  We also have to increase the short educational video clip on children, and in order to make the parents of children aware of the children’s rights and their respective obligation for their children without discrimination.

Eighth, must pose condition for the children to exercise their rights through national and regional forums.  Every comment made by the children will be considered and integrated into the action plan for the development of children’s rights.  Encouraging the children to participate means that we can solve their problems with high efficiency.  If there are issues of violation of children’s rights or the children drop school and are exploited, those issue must be reported to the local authorities in order to prevent immediately.  At the same time, we must promote the speed of research and assessment on the violence on children that the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation have been cooperating with development partners in order to set up program to response to this activity with high efficiency.

Ninth, must strengthen the institution capacity and officials of the Cambodia National Council for Children in all levels in order to be used as mechanism to facilitate the Royal Government, ministries-institutions, city and provinces in implementing their works on children more efficiently.  At the same time, the ministries-institutions that have not set up the working group on children yet must be set up soonest.  Also, the continued cooperation between the ministries-institutions, development partners, local and international non-governmental organization, people’s community, parents and sponsor of children, in order to enhance the implementation of children’s rights in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Through this, I believe that Cambodia National Council on Children, all concerned ministries-institutions, and authorities will continue their active roles and be prepared to cope with the challenges for the interest of Cambodian children as well as upgrading our social dignity.  At the moment, I would like to request the Cambodia National Council on Children, ministries-institutions and all related authorities to strengthen and pay high attention to promote the spirit of supporting the children’s work, young youth by being more active in achieving all goals as stated in the topic, and will bring about the dignity, morality and socio-economic development.  Besides, my wife and I will be committed to putting further effort for the cause of children with pity and deep love for all children as my wife and I have always contributed firmly so far.

Once again, I would like to thank the compatriots, communities, venerable monks, senior people, parents, and sponsors of the children and the children themselves who have contributed in implementing children’s rights in Cambodia to be more progressive according to the convention on children’s rights, and would like all Cambodian children and youth to study hard and maintain Khmer tradition and culture in order to become “good children, good students, good friends and good citizen” for Cambodian society now and in the future.

Finally, along with the congratulation of the significant 64th Anniversary of the International Children’s on 1st June and 12th Anniversary of the World Day against the Child Labor of 12th June today, I would like to wish Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, compatriots, teachers, youth, students, and all children the four gems of Buddhism: Longevity, Nobility, Health, and Strength.