UNICEF Executive Board: National Statement on the Annual Report
(as delivered by Minister Councillor Dr. Jörg Polster)
Executive Director, Members of the Executive Board,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me begin by thanking the Executive Director for his opening statement and for the informative annual report. Germany commends UNICEF for the progress made in 2013. I would also like to extend our most sincere appreciation to UNICEF’s professional and dedicated staff, many of whom work under difficult conditions and with threats to their security.
We acknowledge UNICEF’s work for children’s rights and youth, particularly for those who are most disadvantaged and those who live in fragile contexts. This year, we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and as the report shows, a great deal of progress has been made already. Let us celebrate the progress that has been made, but at the same time strive for more, because the children of today will shape the future of tomorrow.
Germany welcomes the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both as an opportunity to strengthen public awareness on the rights of the child in the development policy context and to foster professional exchange on that topic. It is our hope that it may identify upcoming challenges.
The current Strategic Plan has a strong focus on human rights and equity. With regard to the Post-2015 process, human rights, which are also children’s rights, need to be more strongly considered. The rights of girls and their empowerment, as well as combating gender-based violence, should be a priority. That is why we have to join forces in order to anchor cross-cutting child rights in the Post-2015 development agenda.
Let me highlight five issues of the report which are particularly important to Germany:
First, we welcome UNICEF’s continued efforts to make progress in implementing the various mandates from QCPR on normative principles and cross-cutting strategies as well as on organizational performance. We know that the implementation of the QCPR and Delivering as One is a challenging task. Despite considerable progress made during 2013, huge challenges remain. All stakeholders need to not only maintain momentum but also accelerate efforts in order to operationalize the reforms mandated by this ground-breaking resolution in a timely manner. This is necessary also in order to allow the UN system to become more efficient and effective and thus be ‘fit for purpose’ for the challenges that will result from the upcoming Post-2015 Agenda.
We especially acknowledge that UNICEF has taken a lead role in developing the standard operating procedures as well as in the headquarters plan of action to address systemic bottlenecks in the implementation of QCPR. In our view, the implementation of the Standard Operating Procedures is at the heart of the QCPR reform agenda and the Headquarter Plan of Action is a necessary precondition for important progress and coherence at country level. We appreciate continuous updates and briefings on this topic.
Standard Operating Procedures and the Delivering as One approach are also important for an efficient realization of cross-sectorial issues. In this regard Germany recognizes the positive experiences UNICEF has made with the two joint evaluations: Joint Evaluation of Joint Programs on Gender Equality in the United Nations Systems and UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Program on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting. We want to encourage UNICEF to promote and utilize joint programs as a useful instrument for shared learning and accountability.
Secondly, UNICEF’s tireless work to increase vaccination rates remains among its most impressive achievements, including in crisis areas like Syria, where approximately 2.2 million children under 5 have been vaccinated to date. Germany supports UNICEF’s efforts to raise immunization coverage to protect the health and future of children not only through direct support in Syria, but also through funding commitments made to the GAVI Alliance. In 2013, we committed 30 million Euros to support the GAVI Alliance’s activities and, more specifically, to finance newly-introduced vaccines in the member states of the East African Community.
UNICEF also plays an important role in improving the supply chain of vaccines and Germany joins forces with the GAVI Alliance on this issue and supports the Alliance in developing a new supply chain management strategy.
Thirdly, in 2013 UNICEF has again contributed significantly to the promotion of crucial thematic areas within the education sector, such as school readiness, girls’ education, inclusion and access in fragile contexts. We welcome the fact that UNICEF, jointly with UNESCO, has led the education consultation on the post-2015 development agenda. Germany welcomes the emphasis on early learning, gender equality, inclusion and education in humanitarian situations that UNICEF included in its Strategic Plan (2014 - 2017). At the same time, we would like to stress that it is important to follow a holistic approach to education that includes all forms and stages of education and that makes lifelong learning possible.
We look forward to continuing our close cooperation with UNICEF in order to contribute to donor harmonization in the field of education and to increase the effectiveness of our efforts.
Fourthly, we welcome UNICEF’s continued focus on the goals of the ‘Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children and keeping their mothers alive’ beyond 2015. We understand that much has been achieved in reducing the transmission of HIV from mothers to their children. We also understand that specific challenges remain in providing treatment to mothers and HIV positive children, while ensuring that all children born free of HIV remain so at least for the first two decades of life.
We commend UNICEF's contribution to the global guidelines on HIV Testing and Care for Adolescents Living with HIV. We also welcome UNICEF’s support for the declaration on sexuality education and specifically for highlighting the ‘inequitable HIV response’ for adolescents by generating significant evidence.
Recently, Germany has supported the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) initiative for comprehensive sexuality education and youth-friendly services in Eastern and in Southern Africa which on 7th December 2013 led to a commitment of health and education ministers of 20 countries in the region called the “Ministerial Commitment on comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and young people in Eastern and Southern Africa”. Germany is looking forward to working closely with UNICEF within the ESA-initiative and is open to further exchange on adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health and rights.
On a final note, Germany would like to acknowledge the tireless work of UNICEF on Humanitarian Action:
Working with partners, UNICEF responded to 289 humanitarian situations of varying scales in 83 countries in 2013. With regard to the crisis of the Syrian Arab Republic the regional “No Lost Generation” strategy proposed practical ways to address the long-term effects of the crisis on children through education, protection and social inclusion initiatives. Germany supported this initiative and other work of UNICEF for children in emergencies, especially in the water and hygiene sector, the WASH initiative.
Germany commends UNICEF‘s work in humanitarian situations and particularly its efforts to link humanitarian assistance with resilience-building and longer-term development programs. In this regard, we welcome that the current Strategic Plan (2014-2017) underlines the importance of integrating humanitarian and development programs and that it includes specific targets to measure the results of humanitarian action.
UNICEF's Office of Emergency Programs assumed an important leadership role in developing and implementing the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Transformative Agenda through the Working Group and the Emergency Directors Group and its work is very much recognized. We encourage UNICEF to remain actively engaged in this process. To conclude, Germany remains a steadfast and committed partner of UNICEF and looks forward to our ongoing collaboration. Together we will ensure that children’s rights are implemented and protected.