The post-2015 development agenda must heavily focus on providing opportunities and protecting the rights of vulnerable populations including women, children and persons with disabilities, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of San Marino, Pasquale Valentini told the United Nations General Assembly today.“Today, women are still the victims of discrimination and violence in many parts of the world, also in the most developed countries. In the poorest regions of our planet, maternal mortality remains a challenge,” Mr. Valentini said.“The advancement of women’s rights, the elimination of all barriers to their full participation in the political, economic and social life must be top priorities for the United Nations, along with the promotion of their economic opportunities and equality in all sectors.”Children are also extremely vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation, Mr. Valentini said, noting that in poverty-stricken areas of the world, infant mortality and chronic malnutrition rates are unacceptable.He expressed his hope for universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, its Optional Protocols, and their full implementation. The Convention is a universally agreed set of non-negotiable standards and obligations, providing protection and support for the rights of children. Its three Optional Protocols deal, respectively, with protecting children from trafficking, prostitution and child pornography; prohibiting their recruitment in armed conflict; and allowing children to bring forward their complaints to the UN if their rights are being abused.The international community must also strive to protect persons with disabilities as well as ensure they can fully participate in the life of their community. While important steps have been taken on this front, much remains to be done for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in terms of adopting national policies to advance this issue, Mr. Valentini added.In addition to protecting the rights of minorities, countries must step up efforts to deal with natural disasters. “Member States must do more and give rapid and effective support to populations in emergency situations, both by investing in the most vulnerable regions to build the capacities necessary for preventive actions, and by providing them with the moral and financial backing necessary to cope with disasters,” Mr. Valentini said.He added that peace is an indispensable condition for the achievement of the development agenda, rendering dialogue efforts among nations a vital element for success.