Item 1382 - Address to the "International Action Against Child Poverty" Conference, February 2001

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ZA COM MR-S-1382


Address to the "International Action Against Child Poverty" Conference, February 2001


  • 2001-02-26 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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International Action Against Child Poverty - Meeting the 2015 Targets Conference hosted by Gordon Brown and Clare Short ; Exact date is an estimate

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  • English

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Address via video link from Tanzania

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This meeting led to the formation of "Grow Up Free from Poverty Coalition" made up of NGOs, faith groups and civil society organizations with a commitment to children



I am extremely sorry that I cannot be with you in person today for reasons that I am sure you understand: I am in Arusha with Heads of States trying to bring peace to the people of Burundi.
Tomorrow I will be visiting a refugee camp – and I will think of you then, because the decisions you make in London today could transform the lives of those beleaguered children who live in those camps.

First, I want to commend Chancellor Gordon Brown and Minister Claire Short for their vision in convening this meeting on poverty eradication and children – and to thank all of you for attending.

Each of you - the World Bank, the IMF, the UN, NGOs, and development and finance ministers - are crucial to our collective mission.

That mission is to end poverty and liberate children and young people from misery. So I have a simple appeal this morning, calling on all of us to be activists and crusaders for children’s rights. We need to find the courage to be bold.

We have talked among ourselves for many years now, about how to make the world a better place for children; a better place for all. When I was Head of State, I joined in many of these discussions. We desperately need to translate those talks into effective action.

Nearly eleven million children throughout the world are likely to die this year. They will starve to death from chronic malnutrition and famine and bleed to death on battlefields and playgrounds. They will die from infections and diarrhoea.

These are tragedies that can be prevented. They should be prevented. When history takes our measure – and it will – we will fall far short, unless change starts today. Let us seize the opportunities of this new millennium to take action before more children die needlessly.

We must move children to the centre of the world agenda. We must rewrite strategies to reduce poverty so that investments in children are given priority. Debt relief must go deeper and be effected more quickly. Donor countries must meet their agreed target of 0.7% of GNP in aid.

At present only Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden meet this target consistently.

The 20/20 Initiative, endorsed by the World Summit for Social Development, called for 20 percent of national budgets in developing countries and 20 percent of donor aid to be allocated to basic social services. Few, if any, countries are meeting these targets.

Donor governments and international financial institutions must make children the benchmark for evaluating the impact of their development cooperation and trade policies.

I am not asking you to do anything new: you have long committed yourselves to these goals. I am only asking you to make good on your word. We cannot continue - as individuals, as organizations, as nations and as an international community - to fail to deliver on our commitments to children.

My friends: our legacy must be more than unmet goals. We should be remembered for our vision of a better world. We should be remembered for having changed the world so that every child could live a life of dignity, security and fulfilment.

I hope that your actions today will create a wave of enthusiasm to carry you through your Spring and annual meetings, to the UN Special Session on Children in September - and further still.

I intend attending that Special Session, and I hope many of you will be there.

Indeed, I want to issue the challenge: come to the special session and meet again in a years’ time!

On both occasions, I would wish you to report to the world on how far you have gone in meeting the 20/20 Initiative targets and other commitments. It would be an opportunity to report to the world on how far we have come in keeping our promises on poverty eradication and children.

If leaders such as you cannot make good on your commitments, and cannot deliver a world free of poverty to children, then who can?

Good luck in your deliberations. I look forward to hearing the outcomes of this meeting. Thank you.

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Acquisition method: From hard drive ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation Prof J Gerwel. Accessioned on 01/02/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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