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UN Special Session on Children Gets Underway

The United Nations for the next three days will host a special meeting to discuss issues affecting the world's children. In a demonstration of support, the Security Council Tuesday held its own special meeting on the eve of the session.

The highlight of the Security Council meeting was the testimony of three children, who sat in the Council chamber at the table normally reserved for diplomats.

They appealed to the international community to take their troubles seriously. They noted they are the lucky ones. They are alive. They survived war.

Wilmot Wungko from Liberia talked about the continuing war in his country. "We are dying everyday," he said. "Our human rights are being abused every day. These human rights abuses, including the recruitment of children, will continue unless the war is brought to an end. Please help stop the war for the sake of the children."

Some 400 children from around the world are attending this week's special session on children. Eliza Kantardzic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, delivered a message to the Security Council on their behalf. "I have brought a message with me from all the children from the Children's Forum," she said. "War and politics have always been an adult's game. But children have always been the losers."

And from East Timor, a newly independent country born out of war and wasted lives, Jose Cabral. Jose noted the rights of children have a long way to go in his country, with many children begging in the streets, exposed to violence every day, with no chance at getting an education.

Jose told diplomats they need to make sure that international laws and treaties on human rights, and the promises they contain, are enforced. "Today," he said, "is my chance to ask you very powerful people, on behalf of all children, not just those of East Timor, to please ensure that our rights are respected. I think we have the laws and conventions, but we are not so good at doing what we say."

Heads of state and government, ministers and special envoys will address the Special Session on Children over the next few days. They are supposed to give progress reports on what their countries are doing to promote the welfare of children in line with goals they set for themselves during a landmark Children's Summit in 1990.

As the children at this meeting seem to be saying, more needs to be done, whether it is in making sure children get an education or are protected from deadly diseases and war.