Six dozen kings, presidents and prime ministers have concluded what was billed as history's largest international summit with a pledge to create a healthier, safer and more caring planet for children.
The task is daunting.Organizers estimate that even during the two-day weekend summit, 54,000 children died from preventable illnesses and hunger.
The gathering sought to mobilize governments to save up to 100 million children from death by disease and malnutrition in the 1990s.
The leaders unanimously adopted a 1,700-word declaration to combat poverty, disease, hunger, illiteracy, AIDS and drugs. They also vowed to grant children first claim on Earth's resources in peace or war.
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney of Canada - one of six leaders who 10 months ago proposed the summit - told Sunday's closing session in the U.N. General Assembly chamber that the declaration and its plan of action "represent the promise of world leaders to succeeding generations."
"A better world for children is within our reach but . . . not yet within our grasp . . . success will depend on the deaths we prevent, the number of lives we improve . . . it is time to match our words with action."
Officials at the summit estimated that achieving the declaration's goals would cost billions of dollars - and there was no pledge of funds.
The accord gives no monetary figure and relies on the good will of nations for contributions.
Louis Sullivan, U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, initialed the declaration for the United States, although Bush administration officials last week voiced some reservations.
President Bush, who attended the summit on Sunday, said that this month the U.S. government will announce ambitious new objectives for the year 2000 - reducing infant mortality and low birth weight, increasing immunization and improving the health of mothers and children.
The final declaration, read by six children from around the world, pledges to combat disease and child labor, to promote family planning, universal education and breast feeding.
Its plan of action establishes these goals:
- Reducing child mortality below age 5 by one-third or to 70 per 1,000 births;
- Cutting maternal mortality rates by half;
- Reducing malnutrition among children under 5 by half;
- Assuring universal access to safe drinking water;
- Providing universal access to basic education, with 80 percent of primary students finishing school;
- Cutting adult illiteracy by half;
- Protecting children in times of war.