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Statement by H.E Mr. Margus Tsahkna Minister for Social Protection of Estonia at UNICEF Executive Board´s Annual Session, 14 June 2016

14.06.2016

Mr. President, Executive Director, distinguished delegates

I commend the Executive Director for his comprehensive statement on the work of UNICEF. Estonia highly appreciates the work done by UNICEF´s staff all over the world, often under challenging circumstances.

Sustainable Development Goals and other Global accords agreed upon last year will contribute to the realization of the rights of the world´s children. UNICEF has an important role to play in the implementation of these agendas.

We commend UNICEF for its strong results in 2015. UNICEF has proven its ability to quickly and effectively respond to changes in the circumstances of children in various contexts.

Significant progress was made in the area of child protection. Protection from violence, abuse, and exploitation is a basic right of every child. This a universal issue concerning those both in crises and stability. In this context, I would point to Estonian national efforts to reform and strengthen its child protection mechanisms. Estonia has made systematic investments toward the wellbeing of families.  In 2016, the new Child Protection Act was concluded along with other legislative changes that clearly prohibit child corporal punishment. Estonia is preparing to pilot the multidisciplinary or “children’s house” model to better respond to violence against children. At the global level, we welcome the new Global Partnership to End Violence Against children and consider joining the Partnership as a pathfinder country.

Gender equality and empowerment of women will be critical to achieve the SDG´s. Estonia commends the advances UNICEF has made in this regard and encourage UNICEF to continue its investment in dedicated gender expertise and the scaling of gender programming.

We welcome UNICEF´s sharpened focus on education, especially in the humanitarian emergencies and protracted crises. Education in emergencies will provide consistency and opportunity to children in need. It also contributes to conflict prevention and reduction. We welcome UNICEF´s life-cycle approach, and its prioritization of actual learning as opposed to simple school attendance.

We highly appreciate UNICEF´s contribution to the collective humanitarian response in the context of an unprecedented number of humanitarian crises. We recognize the example provided by UNICEF in developing partnerships with governments, civil society, private companies, funds and individuals. We welcome UNICEF´s focus on building stronger operational bridges between its humanitarian and development work. UNICEF is well position to do so with its dual mandate.

We recognize UNICEF´s work with Europe´s refugee and migrant crises. This crisis is one of the most pressing issues on the agenda of the Council of Europe during Estonia’s presidency. We advocate for the protection of the rights of all children caught in this crisis.

We commend UNICEF for its increased focus on innovation. It is important to utilize wider trends and changes happening around us, like technological advancements. We welcome UNICEF´s cooperation with the private sector and civil society in this field. As ICT´s for development are Estonia´s priorities, we are discussing how we can cooperate with UNICEF in this field.

Investing in children is the key to a sustainable society, and even in the light of limited resources, children’s wellbeing should be treated as a priority. The Estonian Government has gradually increased its contributions to UNICEF over the last 18 years, including core contributions, thematic funding and humanitarian aid and is committed to continue these efforts.

Thank you!

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