Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today I am very honored and pleased to join you all, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, in the opening ceremony of the 7th Ministerial Review Meeting on Children Status in East Asia and Pacific Region here in Siem Reap, the land of the magnificent Angkor.
On behalf of the Royal Government and myself, I would like to express my warmest welcome to all the delegations coming from countries of East Asia and Pacific region, Her Excellency Executive Director of the UNICEF, Excellencies Ambassadors, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the representatives from the national and international NGOs, in participating in this event.
During these past years, Cambodia has been proud and extremely honored to host, organize and lead many international meetings and conferences. Today is an important event for the Royal Government of Cambodia to host this historical gathering, especially here in the Siem Reap, the land of Angkor which is the ancient historical capital and the land of wonder of Angkor temple complex. This highlights the utmost efforts and strong commitment of Cambodia to integrate itself into international community, in particular into the regional community which is an important part of the Royal Government Strategy to promote the development and poverty reduction.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank all the delegations from East Asia and the Pacific that during the 6th Review Meeting in Bali of Indonesia Cambodia was chosen to host this 7th Review Meeting. May I express my appreciation to the UNICEF for providing close cooperation in organizing this valuable review meeting to discuss key issues for Cambodian children and the children in the regions as well as in the world.
At the same time, I am of the view that this review meeting is organized in an appropriate time when in Cambodia we have made a good progress in this area. Cambodia has begun to effectively implement its policy reform program for the Third Legislature of the National Assembly, which adhered to good governance as a core strategy in promoting socio-economic development. In this framework, the children and women issues have been taken into consideration in the national development programs, especially in social sectors such as improving and strengthening the quality in education sector, enhancing health service, implementing gender policy and implementing population policy and so on and so forth.
Moreover, the most important thing I want to highlight now is the international contribution to strengthening the basic rights of children that would gradually improve the well-being of children and women, reduce maternal and infant mortality rate, introduce disease prevention program, nutrition program, prevent and eradicate the exploitation and trafficking of children and women. All these works can not be successfully achieved by one country or one party. We need to have bilateral or multilateral cooperation as well as the close partners in country, in region and in the world. Providing children with full welfare and attaining the progress is a challenging task that requires arts and skills in leadership, patience and time. The Royal Government of Cambodia has identified a clear direction to ensure safety and stable welfare of children to serve as a foundation to push for a strong as well as sustainable development of our nation.
Your presence here in this meeting testifies the importance of raising children status for all countries in the region and proves that countries of East Asia and the Pacific have been collectively making efforts to overcome the challenges facing our children in each country. Moreover, the Ministerial Review Meeting at this time is the forum providing the opportunity for all of us to review the implementation of the 6th Ministerial Review Meeting agreement in Bali, Indonesia, and identify the lessons and experiences in order to find common resolution for the region and for each country in particular which address the problems affecting the children status. All of us can clearly notice that, at the present, Cambodia is making vigorous efforts in the rehabilitation and development of the country in order to reduce the poverty and enhance the welfare of population including children.
The Royal Government of Cambodia has targeted to build a Cambodian society which is peaceful and with political stability and dynamic development, and without fear, conflict and violence. Every Cambodian bears a great responsibility to ensure peaceful lives of children in the country that can enable them to grow into adults with good health, intelligent and live in peace and dignity. Thus, mothers and children are the first priority is to be taken into consideration in the Royal Government social sector development program.
In this sense, all adults have the necessary responsibility to involve in the campaign of taking care of children in terms of paying attention for children education, preventing them from diseases, especial from AIDS, avoiding children to be victims of commercial activities, eradicate polio and combat poverty through investing in women and children. Poverty and low level of development is the major obstacle in the way to enhancing children rights and improving their well-being.
Therefore, poverty reduction not only requires in terms of moral, but also in terms of political commitments of the Royal Government that have to implement it via the investment in children. As you all have been already aware that poverty has the challenging consequences on children physically, mentally intellectually and spiritually, and make them suffer for the rest of their lives. As a result, this environment creates vicious cycle of poverty for next generation that will continue constantly.
To overcome this vicious cycle, the Royal Government has adopted the poverty reduction policy focusing on the rehabilitation of a socially connected, highly educated and culturally vibrant and prosperous Cambodian society. In this context, we consider that a healthy and highly educated population is the firm foundation for sustainable development. Thus, investment on health, education and ensuring sustainable living of Cambodian children will yield greater returns than the initial sum invested.
I am now proud to say that Cambodian children are exclusively not part of any war. Because of the peace which is a result of “”WIN-WIN” policy, the Cambodian children do not need to hide due to fighting and no longer live in separation from families and parents because of wars. Moreover, the successful polio eradication campaign has freed Cambodian Children from the dangerous disease. The outcomes can be considered to be the achievement for Cambodian children of early 21st Century.
However, there are a lot of works remains to be done. We still see children and families living on the streets in the cities and urban areas. Because of the separation and poverty, they become a vulnerable group. Those children face a lot of problems such as drug-addiction, HIV, prostitutions, gangster, and health problem and doom future including the exclusion from the society. So far, several NGOs work with local authorities and relevant authorities to provide humanity assistance to those children, by devoting their owned time and resources aiming to turn them into good citizens. We all agree that children are our next generation who is the pillars and strong labour force supporting the nation. Therefore, we have to work our best in wider cooperation within the country, region and the world to address all these remaining issues.
In this regard, the Royal Government of the third Legislature of the National Assembly have introduced the 73 points political platform and the Rectangular Strategy, particularly focusing on good governance which is the core of reform for growth, employment, equity and efficiency in Cambodia. The development of children has clearly addressed in fourth rectangle of the Rectangular Strategy as “The Children Is the Future of the Nation”. In this context, the Royal Government is going to enhance 4 basic rights of children according to the United Nation Convention on Children Rights. To achieve these goals, the Royal Government will further expand the activities of the National Council for Children to widen the networks to protect children in communities and promote programs protecting vulnerable children who are the orphans, disable and of poor families in the cities or urban areas. The Royal Government has introduced necessary measures to prevent the exploitation and business using underage children such as illegal child labour force, children prostitute, children trafficking, and inhuman and immoral action to the children. Those administration works have to go along with educational effort, law enforcement, rehabilitation and vocational training in order to change them into good citizen. Indeed, those works require generous acts and actively contribute by all development partners.
Through this forum, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, myself, and Cambodian people, I would like to express my condolence to those Governments and their people who suffered from the Tsunami recently where many babies and children lost their lives and also many children were left without parents. However, some countries of East Asia and the Pacific were fortunate not to be affected by the disaster. However, we are all cannot get rid of the mental affects of this grief and sadness. The catastrophe is our challenge in the region as well as in the world and we all have the obligation to work it out together.
Once again, on behalf of the Royal Government and myself, I hope that this review meeting will make a clear and appropriate decision to address the challenges of children in East Asia and the Pacific as well as in the individual participating country. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the UNICEF for all kinds of support in organizing this 7th ministerial review meeting on children status in East Asia and the Pacific.
Moreover, while you are staying in Siem Reap, Angkor, I hope that you will take this rare opportunity to visit some tourism sites especially the Angkor Temples which is our great architecture of human arts and well-known historical heritage. As you might know, during Angkor era Cambodia reached its highest peak of civilization. During the time, we utilized the modern techniques of that time in the constructions, urbanization, agriculture and infrastructure. This place used to be a place where humans, nature and temples live together in harmony and prosperity. I believe that when you will see the temples, you all will fall in love and appreciate the great beauty of the temples.
Finally, I wish you all, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen good health and success in your works. I wish the meeting a fruitful progress and wish you all an enjoyable stay here in Siem Reap — our great land of Angkor. May I now declare the official opening of the 7th Ministerial Review Meeting on Children Status in East Asia and the Pacific.