Statement by the Permanent Representative, H.E. Mr. Margus Kolga, at the UNICEF Executive Board Annual session 2012
Mr. President, Executive Director, distinguished delegates,
I would like to thank the Executive Director Mr. Anthony Lake for the very comprehensive overview of the progress and achievements in 2011 against the UNICEF medium-term strategic plan. At the 1st regular session in February we welcomed the innovative vision of the Executive Director for the future – today we heard about actual innovative solutions that UNICEF is using in its programmes.
Most of all I would like to commend the work done by UNICEF in reducing maternal and child mortality, and the success in tackling child killing diseases. The fact that under-five child mortality has decreased everywhere in the world is most of all the achievement of each and every country, but the contribution of development partners needs to be acknowledged too. Recent field visits to Ethiopia and Djibouti as well as to Sri Lanka clearly showed to my delegation the strength of UNICEF in scaling up innovative solutions and helping to make achieving MDGs a reality. I take this opportunity to recognize the good work and dedication of UNICEF field staff.
Estonia praises the work of UNICEF towards ensuring the right to quality education and gender equality for all children, girls and boys alike. The reality is that we still have to consider education to be a privilege as long as universal access to education has not been achieved. We believe that human rights based approach to education is the main driver to development, equality, health, and world free of violence and conflict. We value highly the work of UNICEF in high risk environments, including in providing education to children in emergencies, post-disaster and post-conflict transition, and long-term crises. Estonia continues to support UNICEF activities in providing emergency education, most recently in South-Sudan.
I would like to highlight UNICEF’s work in protecting children in situations of armed conflict and reintegrating children exploited by armed groups to steady and acceptable
everyday life. Estonia urges UNICEF to engage in capacity building in the area of prevention and investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the context of children. In March this year the militia leader of the DRC, Thomas Lubanga, was found guilty by the International Criminal Court of conscripting and enlisting children as soldiers. It is a landmark decision in the field of human rights of children and it has been noted that this trial has led to releases of child soldiers in other countries.
The Executive Director has been very successful in advocating UNICEF’s focus on equity, today he has stressed that concentrating on the most vulnerable is the key to achieving sustainable development. We agree with his vision and share the view that the upcoming QCPR this autumn is a possibility to widen the equity focus to the whole UN operational activities.
Despite recent years’ economic setbacks, it is good to acknowledge the increase of UNICEF total income by 1% in 2011. UNICEF has been a key partner for Estonian humanitarian contributions to the most vulnerable in crises situations and natural disasters. We are reaffirming our commitment to UNICEF, its humanitarian focus, as well as the wider humanitarian reform process. The Estonian government has gradually increased its contributions to UNICEF over 14 years. The Estonian Foreign Minister recently confirmed to the Executive Director our continued support also in the future.
Finally, Estonia welcomes the cost savings that UNICEF country offices have achieved in 2011 through common services and procurements with other UN agencies. Efficiency and effectiveness needs to be a norm in the UN system. Yet, the Independent Evaluation of Delivering as One report notes that little progress has been made on efficiency in the pilot countries. This applies also to headquarter level – to our astonishment we were informed recently that one page of document processed in the UN is priced at 2,355 dollars. For instance translation costs of one language pair are 10 times less in Estonia. My delegation urges UNICEF to explore free market options and electronic possibilities in its document management and administration.