Spend one thousandth of world's wealth
on children's rights

Making a world fit for children is a dream we all share. But to make this dream a reality we need more than just plans or promises. Making a world fit for children will require specific, measurable and significant commitments of funds.

The draft outcome document for the UN Special Session on children recognises that: "Promoting healthy lives including good nutrition and control of infectious diseases, providing quality education, protecting children from abuse, exploitation, violence, and armed conflict, and combating HIV/AIDS are achievable goals and are clearly affordable for the global community."

The international community needs to go beyond just saying that these goals are affordable, and actually commit the resources needed. The cornerstone of this commitment is the target of 0.7 per cent of GNP for official development assistance. So far only four countries have met this target and demonstrated their commitment to a just and equitable world. As an essential step towards the elimination of poverty and the promotion of humanity, we call upon all developed countries to meet this target as soon as possible.

Children, however, also have special, urgent needs that must be met now. The Special Session's plan of action promises many specific measures including: reducing infant mortality, implementing early childhood development policies, ensuring childhood immunisation, giving proper care for children with disabilities, providing free education of good quality, protecting children from sexual exploitation and trafficking, rehabilitating children removed from the worst forms of child labour, reducing the proportion of infants infected with HIV, and many more steps to improve the lives of children.

But this is all a hollow exercise, if it is not backed by the funds needed to implement these measures. As a specific and measurable solution to the need for funds, we call upon all developed countries to commit at least 0.1% of their GNP to development assistance exclusively for children. Being only one thousandth of the wealth they produce, this target is well within the means of all developed countries. Moreover, it is a contribution that would not only be acceptable, but even popular among the taxpayers of developed countries, as a demonstration of their compassion for children.

Even though 0.1% does not seem like much at all, this amount would mean 25 billion dollars each year for the world's poorest children. This is a significant sum and should be enough to meet the gaps in providing for their health, education, safety, and development. By comparison, UNICEF estimates that an additional 9 billion dollars could ensure quality education for all children. Even smaller amounts are required to protect children from preventable diseases, to register their birth, or to protect them from exploitation. In total, this amount should be enough to ensure that the promises made at the UN Special Session realistically can be kept.

As specific wording, we thus propose that Point 47a of the outcome document reads:

"Urge the developed countries that have not done so to strive to meet the targets of 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) for overall development assistance, and the targets of earmarking 0.15 per cent to 0.2 per cent of GNP as official development assistance for least developed countries as soon as possible, and to allocate at least 0.1 per cent of their GNP as official development assistance devoted exclusively for the needs of children."

Surely the world's children can count on at least this much from us.

India Committee of the Netherlands - August 31, 2001