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1990 World Summit for Children

The UN Special Session on Children is the decade follow-up to the historic 1990 World Summit for Children, which brought together 71 heads of state and official delegations from 88 other nations to agree on a plan of action for improving the survival and well-being of the world's children. The largest gathering of heads of state in history at the time, the World Summit for Children was planned to bring the issues of children to the most important decision-makers in the world, and to ensure the greatest possible political commitment and accountability for its outcome.

Building on the foundation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989, the world leaders at the 1990 Summit pledged their commitment by signing the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children. This document established a set of principles on the importance of ensuring the health and protection of children and a list of the most critical areas needing government commitment.

World Summit goals
Summit leaders also created national and regional strategies and adopted an agenda of 27 specific, ten-year goals for improving both the survival of children and their opportunities for positive growth and development. The overarching goals of this Plan of Action included:

  • Reduction of infant and under-5 child mortality
  • Reduction of maternal mortality
  • Reduction of severe and moderate malnutrition among under-5 children
  • Universal access to safe drinking water, greater food supply and sanitary means of excreta disposal
  • Universal access to basic education and completion of primary education by primary school-age children
  • Reduction of the adult illiteracy rate
  • Improved protection of children in difficult circumstances

> 1990 World Summit for Children Goals

Results of the 1990 World Summit
As a result of the 1990 World Summit and the subsequent international efforts aimed at providing immunization, nutrition and other health needs of children, millions of children's lives have been saved and their families preserved.

The 1990 Summit identified the most critical issues of need for children and the most important areas to direct resources and attention. By setting ambitious targets, summit leaders established a new standard for progress that redefined the possibilities for making a difference in child survival. Perhaps most importantly, the Summit brought the plight of the world's children into view on the world agenda, and engendered a new spirit for making the issues of children a global priority and building for the future.

Even with this success, however, many of the goals that were set at the Summit still have not been achieved and millions of children continue to die from preventable or treatable diseases and malnutrition. As the issues of child survival were reexamined at the UN Special Session on Children in May 2002, world leaders reflected on the lessons that have been learned from the 1990 Summit to determine how to achieve lasting success in the next ten years.

For more information, visit the United Nations Special Session on Children website at

1990 World Summit for Children

Additional information about the 1990 World Summit for Children

The UNICEF website contains additional information about the 1990 World Summit for Children.

To find information about specific topics related to the 1990 Summit, please go to the following links:

1990 World Summit for Children Goals

1990 World Declaration on Survival, Protection and Development of Children

1990 World Summit for Children Plan of Action

The Convention on the Rights of the Child