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Saturday, 11 May, 2002, 08:34 GMT 09:34 UK
UN sets blueprint for children's future
Two Palestinian children hold up the burnt schoolbag of a Palestinian child killed by an Israeli landmine
The plight of Palestinian children caused controversy
A special United Nations summit in New York has adopted an action plan to improve children's lives in the coming decade.

The summit's final document includes programmes to protect children from poverty, disease and abuse, with specific targets for the coming years.

Summit's action plan
Promote healthy lives
Quality education for all
Protect from exploitation and violence
Combat HIV/Aids

"I am enormously proud and pleased at what has been accomplished this week," said Carol Bellamy, director of the UN Children's Fund Unicef at the summit.

The special session was called to assess progress towards 10-year targets that were adopted at the first world summit on children in 1990, many of which remained unmet.

The new plan set targets for 2010, notably to reduce by at least one third the mortality rates of infants and children under five, and of mothers after childbirth.

Difficult talks

The agreement was hammered out during hours of tough negotiations over the contentious issues of sex education and access to sexual health services, including abortion.

They are mentioned in the document, despite initial opposition from the United States, many Islamic countries and the Vatican, who fought against any reference to abortion.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates
Gates said he would invest $50m in a health programme

Conservatives in the United States contend that "reproductive health services" include abortion. US officials had pressed for a footnote to the document specifically excluding abortion. This was not done, but the final agreement dropped any reference to "services".

The US also complained about a resolution condemning Israel for violence against Palestinian children and the deprivation of their human rights.

It has argued that the UN summit is an inappropriate place to raise such concerns, and the issue was dropped, diplomats said.

On Friday, supporters of the Say Yes for Children campaign announced they had succeeded in getting 95 million people to endorse the campaign and set a Guinness World Record for the largest international pledge campaign.

Unicef launched the campaign in 194 countries in April 2001 and asked individuals to make a pledge to support a 10-point agenda to ensure every child's right to peace, health and security.

Financial support

The past three days has seen almost every aspect of children's lives being discussed, with many governments and individuals offering financial support.

Child delegate
Some 250 children delegates attended the summit

During the conference, Microsoft chief Bill Gates pledged $50m to a five-year scheme to improve the health of children in poor countries by fortifying basic foods with vitamins and minerals.

And Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo told the conference money saved from a 20% cut in military spending would be invested in nutrition, health, education and justice for people living in poverty.

"My own experience as a child and a young man who enjoyed... the benefits of an education fully convinces me of the need to concern myself intensively and systematically with children and adolescents who have been scarred by poverty and social exclusion," he said.

The BBC's Greg Barrow
"Young people have played a central part"

Children report on children's rights

Children in war
Are we doing enough to protect them?
See also:

10 May 02 | Americas
UN faces snags over children's deal
09 May 02 | Africa
UN crackdown on refugee sex abuse
08 May 02 | Americas
Annan plea for world's children
08 May 02 | Americas
Children take centre-stage at UN
08 May 02 | Africa
Profile: Olara Otunnu
28 Aug 01 | Africa
Mandela's mission for children
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