New York, 18 - 21 June 2013
Statement by H. E. Mirsada ČOLAKOVIĆ Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations at the United Nations Children's Fund Executive Board Annual Session 18 - 21 June 2013
Thank you very much for organizing this important meeting in framework of the Executive Board annual session on the occasion of the visit of the Executive Board Bureau to Bosnia and Herzegovina held from 14 to 17 April 2013 with the overall objective to get at first-hand understanding of the UNICEF work in my country.
We welcome cooperation of the UNICEF team with our government institutions on all levels in the country in support of the education, health, social welfare and justice reform processes, revision of the legal frameworks, the development of standards and guidelines for child protection and inclusion. The process of developing capacities to strengthen systems at local level is also of utmost importance for my country. UNICEF active support encourages our institutions on all levels to address the major problems that children are facing today. In this context we wish to underline that even if Bosnia and Herzegovina is a middle income country the UNICEF presence and support are still needed and very much appreciated.
The visit of the UNICEF Executive Board Bureau was a good opportunity to witness good cooperation among UN agencies active in my country, and we call upon these agencies to continue this positive practice. We are sure that the recommendations and assessments reflected in the Bureau Report will additionally guide us toward a successful future collaboration and consistent fulfillment of obligations of Bosnia and Herzegovina - including full implementation of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child and its additional protocols.
At this point I would like to elaborate achievements of my country in this regard:
• The Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted in July 2011 the Action Plan for Children of Bosnia and Herzegovina, defining the necessary priorities and measures during the period 2011- 2014. The Action Plan provided, for its effective implementation, that all stakeholders in their activities find additional opportunities to improve the level of children's rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also, the implementation of the Action plan requires transparent communication with the NGOs and civil society sector, families and individuals. Inclusion of all segments of society entails a multidisciplinary and cross-cuffing approach in the design of actions and measures aiming to improve the situation of each child.
• In relation to institutional care for children we actively work on issues of social inclusion of children and activities related to the most important needs for children in the fields of social and health protection, education, special forms of protection, as well as non-discrimination and ensuring fundamental human rights of children.
• Here, I want to underscore that within the Ministry of Human Rights, in early 2011, for the first time, the State-level expert team to monitor implementation of the Revised Action Plan on the Educational Needs of Roma was established.
• A particularly important among these issues is non-discrimination, notably the prohibition of corporal punishment at home and in institutions, where a stronger public awareness is required. Also, specific activities are foreseen in terms of reporting and monitoring, in order to ensure adequate response to violence against children and their abuse, including domestic violence.
• Aiming to implement the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and in particular the recommendations given by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina took action to fulfill this obligation in due time.
Allow me to conclude by following remarks: it is almost 20 years that Bosnia and Herzegovina signed the peace agreement, and we still carry the legacy of the conflict that befell my country. This legacy in some aspects and in some cases has been left to the children. As you remark in your report we still have "two schools under one roof' which are our reality, in 2003 there were 56 such schools, in 2012 this number reduced to 34.
The survival, protection and development of children are universal development imperatives that are integral to human progress. We are ready to work with UNICEF more closely on our common commitment to ensuring protection for our children, especially for our most disadvantaged children - victims of all forms of violence and exploitation, those with disabilities, Roma children, victims of poverty, social exclusion, divisions and disasters.
Thank you, Mr. President.